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A CLOSER LOOK INTO ALEX FM 89.1

Posted by radio On January - 15 - 2013

By: Boitumelo Mmakou

 

Community radio stations have had difficulties with staying relevant over the years, due to the rise of internet radio, and the competing occupancy of commercial radio fast growing, community radio stations have thus had to come up with much more innovative ways to keep in touch with the community and stay relevant, and more than anything build a huge number of listenership.

 

Image by:Tilo Mokgopo and
Kopano Sibeko-Alex Pioneer.

One such a radio station is Alex FM, “We are a radio station that speaks primarily to the community and create an open platform for the community” says Chris Matlhaku, content manager of the station. The station lives through its motto of being the spirit of the community. Its main purpose has been to serve in the interest of the community and make a difference in each person’s life, “Some of the work that we do, which is listed on the terms of our license is to help the community find missing persons, for unemployed people to find jobs, students who are doing well to get bursaries and advertise local businesses. We are all about community empowerment” states Chris. Thus, the attitude of Alex FM besides providing quality broadcasting is to provide fresh content that will appeal to the community. Alex FM ensures that the 91000 listeners in Alexandra and the surrounding areas such as Sandton, Marlboro, Kempton Park, Limbro Park, Midrand, Tembisa, Edenvale and Germiston know what is happening in and around their neighbourhoods.

 

It is a radio station by the people for the people, presenters at the station work on a volunteer basis. They are people who are based in the community and know their community well. Through the Alex FM internship program, the station is working on empowering young people in the area by providing a window into the world of radio broadcasting. Through the program, the station hopes to help interested community members build a career within the media industry.

 

There are always challenges that come with running a community radio station and according to Chris, finance is a challenge for Alex FM “One of our challenges is finance, because we are a small community radio station, we will always be defined as that, we do not always get the funding that we need. Advertiser would rather invest their money in a station with a larger audience. We rely on government funding and assistance”. The radio station continues to produce content that is not highly influenced by its sponsors, and government funding, and provides objective information, entertainment and music that cater for their audience.

 

Due to lack of funds the station has overcome many hurdles since its establishment in 1994. In 1998 Alex FM renewed a four year license with the Independent Broadcasting Authority, but the change of management during that time, lack of communication between those with the radio station and lack of sponsors, the station failed to renew the contract in 2001.

 

The license issues of Alex FM have also affected the location of the radio station; Alex Sankopano a well known community centre at 12th Avenue was home to Alex FM during 1995 till 2001; however the station relocated to 69  2nd Avenue in Alexandra after the renewal of their license in 2008.  “The relocation of the radio station has affected us as a brand, people who knew the old location are still going to the old address when they need us, we have had to put up bill boards with our new address to create awareness of our new home” says Chris . The full come back of Alex FM in 2008 introduced a new host of presenters, equipment and vibrant energy. Since its return on air, it has been fighting an uphill battle to remain on the air waves.

 

Nonetheless, regardless of all the negative responses, and the struggle to remain a powerful voice for the community of Alexandra Township and its surrounding areas, the station has achieved a lot in the past year, having recently set up a live stream through their website, and continuing  to  play music that listeners enjoy, creating content and shows that will cater for everyone and ensuring that the people of the community know about the station through word of mouth, banners all around the township, social networks and the stations involvement in community projects.

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