By Nyeleti Machovani
On December 29, 2011, Radiobiz made note of Mpower FM’s struggle to increase and retain their listeners, as the Mpumalanga-based radio station dismally sat at the lowest number of listeners in the commercial radio space at 55000 down from 108000 in December, 2010. Their listenership figures were dwindling, and popularity waning. Indeed, the year 2011 was a bad year for Mpower FM.
The Mpumalanga-based commercial radio station, Mpower FM, took to the airwaves in early 2006 on the frequency 94.3FM, after satisfying and securing the ICASA radio license application. According to bizcommunity.com, soon after the stations inception, the then Mpumalanga premier, Thabang Makwetla said he welcomed this new baby into the province and that the Mpumalanga Government looked forward to forming close relations with M-Power FM to assist in communicating with the people of the province.
Success certainly thrives through adversity, because astoundingly, Mpower FM is making a commendable come-back. In the 2012 RAMS, Mpower FM is currently pulling 85 000 listeners as of May, 2012. Radio is a numbers game and mathematicians believe that numbers never lie; invariably, the radio industry is sustained by decimals, as they are the most telling variable of a stations growth and popularity. A 30 000 surge in listenership between five months, not only deserves recognition, but also begs the question: “How did they do it?”
Mpower FM’s Head of Marketing, Jane de Jager credits the stations new charity venture, titled ‘Take a Step for Children’, as one of several reasons behind the success of the station in growing its listenership base. “We are supporting different Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) every week, and we have managed to incorporate that into our radio programming. Every Wednesday, we invite the chosen charity organization in studio and learn about them, while encouraging sponsorships for these organizations”, says de Jager.
What Mpower FM has done differently in comparison to previous years, is to focus primarily on community development. The importance of networking, inter-connectivity, and striving for a common goal between a web of affiliates, has proven to be a successful working formula to gain listeners for the radio station. “As of 2011, we have been in partnership with various community development programmes, and support approximately 44 NGO’s, such as orphanages, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), and Life Line, to name a few”, says de Jager.
The Head of Marketing further explains that the inherent opportunity in this ‘Take a Step for Children’ charity initiative is that, all businesses aligned with these charity organizations, and support structures; such as social networking sites, i.e., Facebook, Websites, Twitter, ensure that everyone is connected. This has shown to increase the traffic of new listeners to the radio station tremendously.
Although the 2012 RAMS indicate a vast improvement from the figures of the previous year, Mpower FM still needs some heavy leg work to bring up their listenership to its former glory. In comparison to the RAMS figures of 2010, in October of that year, Mpower FM reached its highest peak with a listenership base of 120 000. “We have some exciting plans underway to make sure we keep growing our figures. Some of the upcoming projects are focused on rural development, and we will be working closely with schools and businesses in the province”, says de Jager, mindful of not revealing all the stations’ future plans to their competitors.
As June is “Youth Month”, Mpower FM has partnered with Riverside Park in Nelspruit, and organized a 10km Marathon on June 16, 2012, through the Botanical Gardens. In addition, the station has organized for Orphanages to partake in a business-to-business walk, where corporate partners will be donating items such as blankets, to guard against the cold for the under-privileged. These donated items will be hung on a lengthy washing line erected along the marathon route, in support of Youth Day.
In an active bid to successfully recover from their listenership decline in 2011; Mpower FM is continuously conducting surveys to better understand the needs of their listenership market. In doing so, the radio station is analyzing its output and working to meet the needs of their audience. Judging by the steady growth in listenership, Mpower FM definitely seems to have finally found the working formula to ride the ever turbulent radio airwaves. The station will hopefully keep building its portfolio by retaining and growing its market, through strengthening its communication and relationship with the people of the province. Nevertheless, the future certainly looks bright for this resolute Mpumalanga station.
Did you Know?
- Mpower FM is an English music radio station.
- Mpower FM is owned by majority owned by local business consortium Mbombela JV with a 48% stake.
- The other two shareholders are Direng Investment Holdings, 27.1%, and operational shareholders African Media Entertainment Limited (AME), 24.9%.
- No station in Mpumalanga deploys more community events, contesting and marketing than Mpower FM.
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