[By: Kagiso Mnisi]
Student radio is mostly lauded as the perfect fertile ground to start off at for sake of learning tools of the trade. Widely known personalities such as Gareth Cliff, Metro FM’s Zeal and Nicole da Silva have all had their genesis on campus radio. More even so the network created by TUT, UJFM, UCT Radio, VUT, VoW and host of others also acts as a resource about campus goings on and academic alerts. What is newsworthy though is the awareness by the market to capitalize on the brand consciousness of University students via campus radio. Through activations and social clubs, brands have been able to intervene in student life as innovative proliferation such Puma Social Club, SMACK Republic and Power Play Griffin sessions have suggested. Campus radio has played a substantial role in mobilizing one of the financially care-free segments to take interest in these pop cultural shindigs where opportunity to influence is plenty.
Using the brand narrative of ‘creative rebellion’ brands are able to provide stimulus for the less jaded at heart and naturally students are a sure bet. Student radio stations are ran and operated by active members in this social scene and by default a controlled media space for idea exchange on where the latest exhibition, pop up shop or brand pilot is created. The Power Play Griffin Session as an example had well known Joburg DJ, Kenzhero, part of its activation story. As also a personality on UJFM he fit in effortlessly with the brand’s plot of a ‘hero’ in the city, which mirrored his accomplishments through the years plying his trade.
What gives the student radio network gravitas is its ability to forge an exploratory environment within individual stations. Just as community radio would be organic in format so do campus stations, this with the awareness that it is a myriad of subcultures and inclinations that are being catered for. A rough analytical sweep is likely to chart activity of students paying dues at NGOs, being part of book/ poetry clubs, work in clothing stores, organize gigs and an assortment of other cultural happenings in between lectures. What better way to give their maneuverings prominence on campus radio for an x- factor?
Renegade stations such as Invisible Cities Pirate radio in inner city Joburg have also given expanded space to jocks and producers from stations such as UJFM and VoW. In its affiliation with the city’s burst of subcultures, arterial byways for experimentation are extended whereby the same people at the helm of shows would also be part of an academic community. The melting pot that results has a cross referencing influence on both ends and thus steer the wave of trends in a direction of its own choosing.
Industry has a lot to gain from enclaves such as Varsity Radio Network in that there is plenty to farm in terms of developing concepts. It is where innovation germinates and gets sprouted to the rest of everything else in the ether. The generic perception that campus radio is only good for grooming is fast becoming redundant in the light that there is more happening in that world. A fresh way of thinking lives in it.