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Independence Day for SABC commercial

Posted by radio On April - 25 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

[By: Kagiso Mnisi]


Can it be?

Deregulation of banks was cited as one of the major contributors to kickstart the domino effect of financial woes in 2008. When major banks around Europe started their crusade for privatization it was open season for major corporations to wheel and deal in outright gluttony for a couple of slices of the pie. As widely ranted about, the buy in by these majors resulted in careless spending of public’s money through dicey derivatives which were really a high-minded way of saying ‘Indeed it’s your cash we are gambling with, but you’d be stupid not to trust us since we have these degrees in economics’. Now with that kind of extrapolation, can SABC’s commercial radios play a similar game where major interest would come from the private sector? Furthermore can it realistically be an entity on its own without any government interference?


Context, closer to home


The commercial radio landscape has vastly improved in the last years. Gone are the days when old formatting had with it a personality in the morning with sides kicks around them, and money in advertising put behind the show. The years of old also had very safe and scientific play lists, weather and traffic for good measure. The ante has been amped to a proportion where brands want to associate themselves with shows that exude a certain kind of character. This of sort happen stance is theoretically fertile for private parties that would want to have a chunk of interest. Commercial radio stations have also positioned themselves in a way that appeases a technologically savvy market by purveying content through non traditional means such as social media which has had forward thinking planners taking advantage.



What of the relationship between the private, labour and government?


During the recent furore surrounding the announcement of a new SABC interim board, the Communication Workers Union reiterated its support for the dissolution of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board, saying a new board could bring much needed stability to the broadcaster as well as “transparent, independent” oversight. But observation of recent developments, labour is clearly in contention with government based on its apprehension to back of the current administration for the next elections. And it’s long standing position (well at least at face value depending on its public relations drive at a given time), has been to view capitalism as not equally beneficial to all in the country. This tug of pushing and pulling, creates a rather uncomfortable three way and would clearly amass to an uncontainable bruhaha if sights are set on making SABC commercial a sole entity in its own.


Existence as an independent entity, ideally


For a turn in this ambitious direction, plenty of spot checks would have to be comprehensively adhered to. As a body that would be existing in an ever changing world, SABC commercial would have to adapt to the needs of a cross-section of audiences. Planners at hand would have to be aware that a campaign that works for a brand conscious youthful personality won’t necessarily be received with the same enthusiasm by for instance another young person who is avid church goer. Under a hypothetical SABC commercial stable, stations would have to go beyond Radio Audience Measurements (RAMS) and also encompass brand attributes, unique opportunities in alignment with making the entity have a soul of its own.


The array of ‘sister stations’ existing under the stable would have to strike a synergy that wards off any form of brand fragmentation, there would have to be collaborative feats for this to happen. The bottom line for a potential independent entity is thus: there is no perfect example of a radio entity; it is a medium that constantly requires innovation and courage.


Safe to say, privatizing some of the world’s major financial institutions was novel on paper to foster competition and momentum. But in hindsight the collapse came from unethical and risky operations that did not have the interest of the people at heart. Can SABC commercial prove to be a uniquely South African conception that is totally different to the world’s banks in putting audiences first and still be competitive? Yes, when most of us have long gone and this country has new found scruples by a generation of genuine born frees. Those with soul, vision and courage.



Some of the material on this article was sourced from the below:

Idea Engineers (trends) []

Kagiso Media []

Inside job: defaced, documentary on the financial crisis




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Q&A with Kurara FM’s Refilwe Thobega

Posted by radio On April - 23 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

 [By: Kgomotso Moncho]


Refilwe Thobega is not a popular name and you might not even know who it belongs to. But Refilwe is one of many young broadcasters starting out at community radio stations. If all goes well, she might be a popular name in commercial broadcasting some day. You hardly ever get to hear the side of the story of youngsters starting out and so she opens up about the beginning of her radio career.


How long have you been on air?

I started at Kurara FM on 16 June 2012. So on that day I was celebrating youth day, as well as the beginning of my radio career.


What was your first day like?

Nerve-wrecking and exciting. Fortunately, I was co-hosting with a gentleman called Thabang Loeto, who has immense experience in radio. He put me at ease. After the first thirty minutes I simply eased into it.


What are your impressions of radio?

Radio is powerful. It is personal. Radio is volatile. It is very easy to switch channels. So, as a presenter, you don’t want to lose your listeners. You can’t be too relaxed.  I am still trying to choose which beat to follow, because I am so flexible and diverse. At Kurara FM, so far: I have done the Saturday breakfast show (6h00 – 9h00), I also co-hosted a sports show for a while, I then moved to the weekly afternoon drive slot (15h00 -18h00) and I am currently doing weekdays Sunshine Drive (12h00 -15h00). And people say I would be good at talk radio or news. I’m a big fan of Kgopedi wa Namane and Melanie Bala of Metro FM News.


What kind of environment are you working in?

It’s a new and young community radio station with great potential for growth.


What are the challenges?

It does not pay. Most community radio stations do not pay. Presenters get a stipend. This is where passion comes into play.

I have had moments when I was feeling very low and down, but I had no choice but to go behind the mic.

Listeners don’t care what your story is; they just want to be entertained.

There is no right or wrong way. We all have our own styles. The challenge is trying to figure out what makes you, you. I don’t want to sound like anybody else. It takes a while to find your own voice.

In community radio you have to learn to do everything – researching, producing, presenting, and operating the deck – you do everything. In the beginning I was intimidated by the system and the deck and once I was taught, I realised how easy it is.

The other challenge is dealing with different personalities and egos. People want to be territorial and make you feel like you are not “there” yet. They can make you doubt yourself. There are so many times that I could have simply grabbed my handbag and left. I had to focus and remind myself why I am doing this and where I want to see myself.


What did you do to prepare for your chance in radio?

My preparation goes as far back as 2004 when I did a TV presenting course at the SABC.

I used to go to national radio presenter searches, but was never successful.

While working at an organisation in Pretoria, we had a radio unit and I took a keen interest. I always hung around the radio people and my friend, a sound engineer and a radio producer, working in that unit, would regularly teach me things and she also helped me with recording demos.

After landing the Kurara FM gig, I invested in some great courses. Firstly, I did a radio course with On Cue Communications.  It was very hands-on. We went to Primedia at the studios of Radio 702 and Highveld stereo. We went to SABC radio. We had sessions with the likes of Mo-G and Nonn Botha of Kaya FM, Mark Pilgrim of Highveld Stereo, Sizwe Mabena of Metro FM Sports and so forth. We covered all aspects of on-air presenting: talk radio, news, sportsandstudio DJing techniques.

Secondly, I also went for an individual voice training programme at the Voice Clinic. It was a great eye opener and money well spent. 

GiulianaRansic of E! Entertainment said that: if you want a career in radio and/or TV, having a journalism qualification and/or experience sets you apart. So the journalist in me comes in handy.


What have been some of your experiences?

Ever since I started, I grew up a lot emotionally. I had to have some gusto and courage. I learned to act not on emotions. Radio is so real and live. It is not easy. When you smile your listener “hears” that. And they can also tell when you are “not in the mood”.

A listener once called in and said that I was boring. He would call and make nasty remarks and then hang up. I had to hold my head high and do my thing. I stuck it out.

A friend comforted me by reminding me that when DJ Fresh started out at 5fm he experienced a great deal of hate and nastiness from some of the station’s stereotypical audience. And he now he has them eating out the palm of his hands.

The support at home has also been great. It is a blessing that I started out in radio while I was staying at home with my mom and sister. By the time I move on to bigger stations and challenges I’ll be tougher.


What would you like to achieve in the radio industry?

I have always loved radio. As a young girl, I had this pink walky-talky radio, which had aerials on the head phones. And I had to manually search for a station. It was my most prized possession.

We had those old radios called Hi-fis. My late dad would pluck things and connect things up and make me speak on the mic. I could not even talk properly at the time. And he tape-recorded such incidents.

I just want to grow, develop my own voice and my own brand – to know what I stand for and what I’m all about.


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Damon Beard: the man of many talents

Posted by radio On April - 15 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

[By: Kgomotso Moncho]


Damon Beard wears many hats: a presenter, producer, author and motivational speaker and he wears them all stylishly with charm, humility and wit. To his listeners he’s a sweetheart.

He is the executive producer and co-presenter of the afternoon drive show on East Coast Radio; he’s a popular speaker; a regular in the corporate circuit and an author of the best selling book, Powerlunch Riddles. 

His background in travel and journalism add to his profile. Beard is a qualified pilot and journalist and he’s been in radio since 1991.

His story about how he ended up in the industry best exemplifies the notion of being at the right place at the right time and the adage that “you find your destiny on the road you take to avoid it.”


 “I was involved in the travel industry at the time and I was at an event with a friend of mine talking to Grade 12’s about the Pro’s and Con’s of travelling right after finishing school. I was approached and asked to do an audition which I turned down.  When I was asked again, I went along but didn’t really give it my best shot. I remember doing the audition hoping the guy who asked me would stop bugging me to try out for radio. I guess everything happens for a reason though and 22 years down the line, I still love what I do,” he says.


And in that 22 years of experience he has gone on to do some great things, which have made him get under the skin of his followers. He started The Big Favour feature on East Coast Radio 10 years ago when a listener called in and asked him if he could help her with a bus ticket to Cape Town to go see her dying mom. Beard arranged the ticket and this sparked an idea.


“I started thinking, ‘I wonder how many other people I can help.’ That’s how it started and since then, we’ve built people houses, done lifesaving operations and even helped animals. It’s hugely rewarding and every week I marvel at the generosity of people in our province for those in need,” he explains.


His radio ideas also gave birth to his best selling book, Powerlunch Riddles.  He had a feature on his then lunch time show where he’d give a riddle on air and listeners would call in with an answer. This got so popular that he decided to write a book based on the idea. What is at the heart of his motivational speaking is a passion to inspire his audience and help them believe they can be anything they want to be.


“I did my pilot’s license because I had an unbelievable fear of flying. In fact the fear was so bad I couldn’t even go to an airport, so when I’m talking on ‘overcoming your fears’ the content comes from a compassion in my heart, because I know exactly what it’s like to be scared of something,” he reveals.

With all his experience, Beard remains humble, laid back and exudes a sense of being comfortable in his own skin. He has got nothing to prove. You can feel this on his afternoon show on East Coast Radio, where he somewhat leads from the back, letting his team shine.


“I think a presenter who’s true to him/herself and who’s true to their audience is a great asset to a radio station. What’s also very important is a tight, trustworthy, open and honest team. When there’s a ‘vibe’ of any sort, listeners can pick it up immediately,” he points out.


When asked about some of his greatest moments on air, it becomes hard to pick just one. He’s been lucky enough to interview some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, including MC-ing a Celine Dion concert.


“My whole career has been my greatest moment,” he beams.  






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[By: Kgomotso Moncho]

Bruce Hong is the content producer for the 567 Cape Talk Breakfast Show with Kieno Kammies. He is a finalist in the Content Producer for Commercial Radio category in the MTN Radio Awards, along with other producers from 5FM, OFM and 94.7 Highveld Stereo.

This is the first time he’s entered the competition as a producer and the first time he’s made it to the finals. But this is not the first time for the show. It has been entered before when it was presented by Aden Thomas.

Hong studied at Wits University and joined their campus radio, Voice of Wits in 1992. After graduating in 1994, he went to his first job interview which was not successful.  He rang up Radio 702 who took him. After 5 years at 702 he took a break and went to London on a holiday visa where he did some accounting work. He came back to South Africa and settled in Cape Town in 2001 and joined 702’s sister station, 567 Cape Talk. He talks to Radiobiz about the thrill of chasing a story and where his love of radio comes from.

What makes the breakfast show you produce on 567 Cape Talk stand out?


We try to make a difference by either speaking to the most senior people in charge and who are able to effect change, but we also make ourselves available to help out the ordinary person who gets stuck because of red tape and so forth. We believe that if we show people how things can be done, they will take the initiative and be more bold themselves.


What appeals to you about talk radio?


On so many different levels, we can reach people emotionally, and get them to share their thoughts and their stories.


What do you hope to contribute with what you do?


By getting people to talk to each other and share their stories on our show, people will eventually realise how similar we all are underneath our different exterior shells, and we can all get along better that way. On the other hand, we can also share some of the challenges that others face that we might not be aware of ourselves, and this too can lead to better relationships


When I google you, there’s a trending of your Oscar Pistorius bedroom bathroom 3D walkthrough video. Please talk to me about that, and working on that particular story.


 I wasn’t happy with the little facts we had coming out about the shooting and there was so much speculation about what might have happened in the early hours of February 14, and every person was already forming a conclusion in their head. I asked my colleagues in Gauteng to apply to get the design plans of the house (from relevant town planning office) so that we could provide a graphic so that people knew what we were dealing with. I then suggested to them that there is software available that allows one to draw up a 3D mock-up of his house.

They e-mailed me the image presented in court. It wasn’t the whole house, just the main bedroom and bathroom, but it was a start. I got home late from a family dinner and went straight into the project. I probably had the project 95% complete in a few hours and took it to the office the next morning.


In between my duties as producer, I spoke to the online department as to how we could load it up as a video, as the software did not have an export function. We only managed to find some software later that day and it took awhile to get it to a decent level, because the two programs just were not working ideally. I felt the time pressure because Sky News had used the same plans to draw up a static 3D image, and the BBC was planning to do what I did. On Friday morning, I managed to load my video to YouTube before our show started, and then we spread the word via social media. Within 24 hours I had something like 22 000 views and it was also used on other websites such as 2oceansvibe, IOL and Radio Jacaranda!

My next plan is to build a scale model of his bedroom in the spare area we have in Cape Town, so that presenters can walk through it themselves and literally get a sense of distance etc.


What other stories have you enjoyed working on, and which have made an impact on you?


I enjoy the thrill of the chase – I think all producers do – so when we get on big name personalities for the first time, I feel like I’ve achieved something. I remember when the movie Apollo 13 came out, I decided it would be great to track down Jim Lovell, the actual astronaut who was on board that fateful mission. He was impressed that we were interested in his story and obliged!

Then there are the human interest stories that affect our listeners. A few months back, we received a message from a listener that told us a family member’s 3 year old daughter was caught in the cross-fire of gangsters. She had about 6 bullets in her and survived. We try to speak to the mom as often as we can to remind us that this is the sad reality some members of our communities have to live with.


What has your work revealed to you about South Africa?
People think we (in the media) thrive on the doom-and-gloom, and that’s far from the truth. We celebrate the great that is within us all and try to spread this message. Despite the many challenges we face, we need to realise there are others a lot worse off than what we think, and that many of them still cling on the vision that things will get better. If we can take that vision for ourselves, we can get very far. I’m glad to be a part of the process.


What has working on radio taught you?


Resourcefulness!  I come from an era when there was no internet, twitter nor Facebook, and had to use directory-enquiry services locally and internationally to find guests! I often sound like an old-man when I tell new producers how they give up too soon when they can’t locate a guest!


It’s amazing how much knowledge one gains by working on radio that I often have to keep quiet at gatherings for fear of being deemed a know-it-all.



Are there things you’d still like to achieve within the radio industry?


I’d like to mentor more producers and give them lessons in how to work smartly, as they sometimes get frustrated after just a few attempts.



Anything you’d like to add?


I grew up (in the late 70s and early 80’s) with older siblings listening to the radio all the time, and so it was a part of my life as well. I enjoyed the warmth it gave me when listening to quiz shows, comedies, music and such.  My mother, an immigrant from China, had a short wave radio that she would use each afternoon to listen to a Taiwan-based radio station that broadcast in Cantonese for an hour or so each day. It meant so much to her.

There are many people like that still out there, and I feel like  I’m helping them stay in touch with the world with what I do – no matter which show I work with.



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Metro’s revolving door has loyalists in tears

Posted by radio On April - 12 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

[By: Kagiso Mnisi]


When the trumpet wails signaling the end of an era, there is no shortage of weeping that follows. Indicative of this is Metro FM’s latest bolster of its line up where by far the headlining news is of Eddie Zondi vacating the 21:00 – 00:00 slot, The Obsession.


As one of the jocks to have had a staggering a following on the station for years, Zondi crafted a widely recognised brand of serenades and relationship tit bits with his late night ballads. He makes space for Ismail Abrahams who has come a long way since a formidable reign at Gagasi FM (he drew the most listeners albeit not knowing a word of Zulu). Abrahams started making his presence felt at Metro during his mid-morning Saturday shows. If the Station Manager, Martin Vilakazi, is astute in saying “it is important to refresh, strengthen and rotate talent to ensure we receive maximum output”; it has to be conceded that Abrahams is the man for those fuzzy late hours.


A presentation of an award at the Metro’s by the jock was a sure public relations hint of what the station intends on doing with his talents. As always such moves have to be negotiated with the listening ear, this is with the cognisance that the late night urban adult contemporary listener of now feels more at ease with modern sounds than they would with 80s or early 90s new jack swing. This very listener forms part of the microcosm that wields buying power and therefore needs to be appeased starting with the radio personality on board to brands purchasing space during the time of the show. However purists will not be completely left out in the cold since Zondi stands to retain the Romantic Repertoire on Sundays.


Another shape shift is the welcome back of Phat Joe for weekend breakfast. Not one to fall short of courting controversy, his cubicle is a stone’s throw away from a former cadre, Thomas Msengana who also keeps the fires burning at 5FM roundabout the same time. Phat Joe’s glory days (by way of history) are a time travel away to 1997 as the morning jester to youth station, on the show that was known as Live and Dangerous. He made himself a name as agitator, provocateur and everything else rebellious. Hopping from station to station (Metro FM, Kaya FM, Heart FM) as a pariah that just would not toe the line has like relentless voodoo, followed him wherever he has touched a microphone. If deduced, Metro FM spin department has a kit put aside as collateral in case the jester reverts to his old ways and veers off the line of the stations mores.




With these changes, this is what people on the streets had to say about Metro FM’s recent line-up changes.




Other changes on Metro:

Sakina Kamwendo features Kgopedi wa Namane on one of her shows during the week

William and Marian keep their Saturday evening slot with the Pyjama Party, but will have new shows on Sunday morning respectively

Nothemba Madumo’s jazz slot moves to 8pm on Sunday evenings.  Thereafter Carol Ralefeta takes the airwaves to midnight

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[By: Kgomotso Moncho]


Kabelo Molopyane is a finalist in the category Breakfast Presenter from a PBS station in the MTN Radio Awards. He presents the breakfast show, Ragoga Gee on Motsweding FM and this is the first time he’s entering the awards. He feels he’s still new in the Breakfast /morning radio space, as he’s only been presenting the show for nine months. Winning could be instrumental in giving him a confidence booster.


But Molopyane has long earned his stripes as a radio presenter, having hosted all of the other shows on different time slots on Motsweding FM. This makes him one of the popular names at this station, which broadcasts across the country, with special audiences in the North West and Northern Cape provinces.


He hails from Makolokwe, a village in the outskirts of Brits, a small town in the North West. He speaks proudly of his village, saying how it could be a model tourism destination because of its special mountains, game and a selection of wild fruit. This is where it all started for him, where his love for radio was sparked.

“I love music and as a kid I did not have money for cassettes and such, so I listened to the radio. My love of music sparked my love of radio. From as young as 14 years, I knew I wanted to hear my voice on radio,” Molopyane says.


He started in the Drama department of Motsweding FM in 1996. He joined Soshanguve community radio in 1997 to begin his broadcasting training. “Soshanguve gave me the tools to become a presenter,” he says. He went to Radio Mafisa in Rustenburg in 2000 where he specialized in sport.


He was called to Motsweding FM in 2002 where he became an all rounder, starting with the graveyard shift and Saturday evening shows, midday shows to the Afternoon Drive, for which he has become well known.


Now he is adding the Breakfast slot, which is the flagship of any station to his resume.  Talking about Ragoga Gee, the Breakfast show and what makes it stand out, he says, “The aim of the show is to be current. We break the news to our listeners and keep them updated on the news, sports, weather and traffic fronts. The language we broadcast in, which is Setswana, is a big part of what makes us stand out. We have a daily sports quiz, which is popular with the listeners. This was started during the 2010 Soccer world Cup, and we have retained it simply because our audience loves it, we are a sport loving nation. Other popular features include the daily brain teaser and the Golden Oldies music feature, for which we get a lot of calls.”


He adds that Motsweding FM is probably the only PBS station with a DJ mix in the morning, which is kept brief with only about eight minutes of airplay.


His experience has taught him a lot of things, including what it takes to be a good presenter.


“Never broadcast, but communicate with your audience, and talk to one listener who you can picture in your head. It’s important to keep your head on the ground, to read a lot and be alert. Radio has taught me to be better informed, to always know what is happening around me and in the world. I think it is the role of radio to be educational, to give the people messages about HIV/AIDS and other relevant issues. We face a challenge from technology and social media, but radio has always been first in giving information and entertainment to the people. In special cases we have also been taught a thing or two by our listeners,” Molopyane says.


Looking ahead he wants to explore his talents further in the sport arena. He is an experienced sport commentator and bulletin anchor. But for now he hopes to settle in, in the Breakfast slot for a few more years.         

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Changes at 5FM are a rock and a hard place

Posted by radio On April - 10 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

[By: Kagiso Mnisi]


For most radio stations the first and last quarters of the year are often abuzz with schedule reshuffles. Not to have the same ‘turnaround’ strategies as some sectors, radio’s clean up processes have to do with analytical benchmarks from what audiences gravitate towards and generally keeping things fresh.



With the news of 5FM’s ‘rock powernites’ presenter, Jon Savage, vacating the slot which airs at 10pm on weekdays, questions surrounding the station’s attitude towards rock music genre have surfaced. Savage’s three year run at 5FM came with the credibility of being a member of indie rock outfit Cassette, an affiliate to conceptual rock poetry group, The Buck Fever Underground, and recently a serial blogger on the music industry. The station has in the past created a mythology around its rock music presenters, one that positioned them as ‘know it alls’ of the art form in the way they introduce emerging bands to the mainstream and of course trivia associated with it.



The departure of Savage puts the stations vision under the radar in whether its commercial cum Top 40 slinging format is the way to go; and that rock music anchors are are now easily dispensable unlike in the past. Savage’s predecessor, Barney Simon, spent more than eight years as 5FM’s in-house rock fundi and judging by that pattern, the popular opinion was that these presenters have more endurance than most at the station. Clearly things have changed and the devil in the detail sees advertisers converging towards shows that are more widely accessible to the listener.


But as a fairly recognisable rock music presenter, what highlighted Savage’s tenure at the station? From having cross atlantic interviews with musicians such as Seether, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Muse. Metallica and the odd opinion piece in Rollling Stone SA magazine the assumption would be that the jock’s repertoire packed a reasonable punch. Rock powernites also frequently invited household musicians to have performance live in studio where the listener could phone in to ask questions.


On the day that the news of his leaving broke, Jon Savage said, “this is not the end of rock music at the station” and judging by Rolling Stone’s retweet of the statement are, eyes are peeled  on what it all sums up to from here onwards. Not to paint a situation that is all dire, 5FM has also had it bursts of brilliance during its midweek graveyard slot where the local independent rock circuit has had a fair ‘share of the ear.’ This slot has broken alternatives acts such hard metal band Rebuurth and Savage Lucy.


The new line up at the station boasts Capetonian Stephanie B from sister station, Good Hope FM and Ms Cosmo, a female hip-hop DJ previously from YFM. The direction is a clear indicator that the station is on a mission to lure a younger crowd, one that is easily sold ternds. Savage’s bow out will surely leave a few rockers disgruntled since he was the sole custodian of their kind of music on 5FM amidst a flurry of popular sounds.

















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Radio according to Alan Khan

Posted by radio On April - 9 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

[By: Kgomotso Moncho]


Alan Khan is a well known name in radio circles. But more than that, Khan is a reputable media personality, as well as an academic. He is now the Senior Director of Corporate Affairs at the Durban University of Technology and is included in the judging panel of the MTN Radio Awards. He is a former CEO of Jacaranda 94.2; former deputy MD of East Coast Radio and a presenter of the weekday morning show there, called Big Breakfast. His career started at TNT Radio back in 1990. He joined Capital Radio 604 in 1993 and worked there until the station’s last day of broadcast on November 26, 1996. On television Khan presented Powerboating on Supersport in the 90s and co- hosted Am2day, a daily morning national TV show on SABC2. He has written for The Post in Durban as a sports columnist. In 2008 he gave a presentation at the third Annual African Media & Broadcast Congress of his paper on The Future of Radio in a Digital World: Is The Internet an Extinction Level Event For Radio? He always has radio on his mind. He speaks to Radiobiz about that and more.



What has your experience in radio revealed to you about the SA radio industry?  


The South African radio industry is in an interesting position. Whilst the regulator has licensed new commercial broadcasters, the big private media owners still dominate the landscape. This has resulted in shared content with common programming and news strategies and two or three sales houses that control radio advertising. These are not necessarily all negative concepts however, as technology and access to technology improves in South Africa, radio will have to evolve and the way we play the game will need to change.



Are you still actively involved in radio? 

Unfortunately not. After two decades in the industry, I needed a change and wanted to relocate back home to Durban. However, as Senior Director of Corporate Affairs at the Durban University of Technology, I’m often interviewed by radio stations in KZN and I still get excited every time I’m on air. I am now also a client and it’s been interesting sitting on the other side of the table, especially since I have some knowledge of what the media owners and broadcasters are trying to sell. My involvement as a judge in the MTN South African Radio Awards also keeps me close to the medium that I still love.



What does being involved in the MTN Radio Awards do for you? 

Personally, being a member of the judging panel allows me to play a positive role in acknowledging outstanding talent, great ideas, superb storytelling and broadcast innovation. It also gives me the opportunity to track new talent which is being nurtured on campus and community radio. The commercial radio industry will be reliant on this new talent to be original, to be innovative and to ply a significant role to ensure that radio remains relevant to a changing audience with new behaviours.


What observations have you made from the judging?

 I have been impressed by some of the talent on campus and community radio. If they are allowed to flourish and maintain their originality, then many have a successful future ahead. Then again, I have been left a little disappointed by the radio promotions and competitions. Many of these are copies or extensions of concepts from Australia, England or the USA. It would be good to see more original ideas coming through. I would love to see the audience becoming “the stars of the show!”


Which categories do you enjoy? 

 I always go to the campus and community categories first. Then, being a former breakfast and afternoon drive presenter, I’m keen to assess those entries, followed by radio promotions and news/talk/current affairs. I think that it is fantastic that the MTN South African Radio Awards also recognize Hall of Famers and Brightstars. 



How do you think radio is faring in the digital world today? 

They once said that video would kill the radio star! Well, VHS is dead but radio is still here! My gut feel is that the digital revolution will not be an extinction level event for radio. Certainly, it brings new challenges and increases the options for the audience but if radio can remain relevant to its market, continue to deliver local, original, fun and entertaining content, it will still have a fighting chance. South Africa has had unique developments. We are still waiting for the digital signal migration to materialize and once television goes digital, radio should be next, however, that could be some years away. At the end of the day, it’s all about the audience and if radio cannot retain and grow target markets, then there could be trouble ahead. You are already seeing media owners diversify from pure broadcasting. Many have invested in digital platforms, not just for content needs but for revenue generation too. In my opinion, the next 10 years will be a vital phase in the radio evolution.



Do you think there are areas local radio could improve on? 

Yes. I think presenters must be excellent storytellers. The art of delivering a good story in 30 seconds is disappearing. There should also be a renewed focus on original, fun and innovative promotions and concepts. Radio talent should be actively and consistently promoted. There has to be higher profiles for our leading on air talent in South Africa. It’s not just about the station brand. Then, I honestly believe that radio is about connecting people. Let’s be honest, it was one of the first forms of social media. I also love the fact that so many radio stations have a social conscious. The outstanding projects that take place around the country are a credit to the industry. Whether it be blankets, toys, teddy bears, food parcels, schools, rhinos or awareness in the fight against domestic violence, rape and child abuse, radio does its bit. The industry really has the ability to change people’s lives for good! 



It’s often said that the media cannot tell you what to think, but what to think about. What is the sole role of radio to you? 

Someone once said that “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” It’s all about the people! From the audience, to the presenter, the sales executive to the client, the programme manager to the marketing experts. Radio must connect with the consumer and for that to happen, radio needs to have intimate knowledge of their audience. And with that knowledge, radio can start making the relevant connections to satisfy their consumer’s needs. Radio must remember that what people want and what people need is not always the same thing!



What makes good radio? 

Radio has to compete in the battle of the attention economy. As it faces the challenges of a world in evolution, a digital environment and a changing audience – radio has to be relevant, be local, be original, be fun and connect with the consumer. Radio must focus on connecting people. But one thing is certain, increased competition coupled with a changing digital world is forcing radio to up its game and evolve, which can’t be a bad thing.




Anything you’d like to add?  

I would like to congratulate all the winners at the 2013 MTN South African Radio Awards. I am also proud of the Hall of Fame and Brightstar recipients. I would also like to thank Lance, Taryn, Michelle, Jeremy and the entire team at the MTN South African Radio Awards for their passion, commitment, dedication and support of South African radio.



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Matona Sakupwanya on judging radio

Posted by radio On April - 8 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

[By: Kgomotso Moncho]


When it comes to women in radio who have become influential in their work, Matona Sakupwanya is right up there with the rest. But she is not one to let gender define or influence how she works. She much prefers to see herself as an individual passionate about the radio medium.


Known for being station manager of Metro FM from 2006 to 2011, a period during which the station grew exponentially, Matona’s extensive experience in radio has seen her come through the ranks in sales and marketing, before heading up one of South Africa’s biggest commercial radio stations.


After leaving Metro she was appointed General Manager at Primedia Unlimited, heading up a division called Mallworx. She is now General Manger at Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) and is judging the MTN Radio Awards for the first time this year.


Her work at RAB sees her promoting the medium she is passionate about as a primary advertising platform. This is done by improving the level of familiarity and favourability towards radio and enhancing its perception as an effective advertising tool, as well as developing and maintaining relationships within the advertising and marketing industries.


Her vision is to continue to champion the cause of radio by educating and guiding marketers and agencies in the effective use of the medium, thereby growing radio’s revenue share in SA. What she loves about radio is its immediacy, flexibility and ability to move with the ever evolving media landscape. But here’s what she finds exciting about radio right now. “The right station with the right message and the right frequency will yield good returns. Also, as digital media grows, radio is brilliantly positioned as it is the medium that synergises best with digital platforms. Radio compliments the way people are using social media and radio promotions and campaigns can create great content which can be leveraged in social media. All of this takes the client’s message further,” she says.


She feels the growth of the MTN Radio Awards is an indicator of the growth of radio and that its recognition of achievements and talent within the entire broadcast radio industry can only be a good thing for our industry. Having headed up the largest commercial radio station in the country and the second largest in listenership has given her a well-rounded view and capacity to gauge what works and what doesn’t and this, she says, helps her in her judging responsibilities.


“What I personally look for are presenters and shows as well as content that grab attention. This by no means infers being ‘loud’ but rather speaks to content that kept me listening or wanting to hear more. I enjoyed all the categories I judged, but must say that judging Programming Innovation was very exciting,” Matona says. According to her what makes good radio is programming that is in-touch and reflective of its listeners and on-air personalities that are knowledgeable & entertaining.


Talking about her observations from her many years of experience and what the radio industry has revealed to her, Matona says, “Radio is a powerful medium in our country.  It still reaches more than 80% of the population across all LSM groups. It excels at reaching just about everyone – It’s quite frankly the medium for all South Africans. Although this might be the case, the industry hasn’t yet embraced the medium to its full capabilities and this is evident in the revenue figures. This shows that there is a lot of work for us to do to change the latter.”  

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Comfortable Turn At The First Avenue

Posted by radio On April - 4 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

[By: Kagiso Mnisi]


Consider a show that amalgamates one of the personalities to first ever dare play a local hip hop song on national radio. The first to command mass appeal in the youth of his generation from the days of Bop radio and then continue on a more grandiose scale at Metro FM throughout the rest of his career. But then the alchemy just would not measure up if he was not joined by a former  Y-generation star whose run at the regional youth station was representative of the urban bohemia of the early 2000s. Now that is a perfect dose to liven up the dreariest of mornings. 


In bluntness it means that most listeners’ eye cracks are being wiped by Glen Lewis and Unathi Msengana on Metro FM’s breakfast show, The First Avenue, if those calibrations are gotten right. No longer up-starts of years gone by, the two now give a show aimed at the young at heart and career ladder climbing young professionals alike.


Just as any show garnered for a difference in opinion as the two have constantly displayed, a buffer to smooth things out is well needed. This comes byway of the composed Melanie Bala who has evolved plentifold from her 90s stint as a starry eyed host of the music show Studio Mix. Bala acts as mediator and resident news breaker on the show, which if considering market and format, she trumps even some of the trusted voices in news delivery and verification active in the medium.


Glen Lewis’ presence at Metro FM has been a journey of twist and turns, the personality however boasts a tenure that most can only dream of in the radio space. His musical sensibility also reached a zenith whilst being part of the Metro team with the release of various house compilations and a season long appearance on local soapie Muvhango. His role as a lead figure in The First Avenue has marked remnants similar to his route on radio; this is seen in the steady (and now admirable) appeal to the station’s audience which SA Advertising Research Foundation found that it significantly contributed to the overall 5,9million listenership. Not having peaked on the MTN Radio awards roster makes for an interesting debate as to whether the shows needs a of trophy validation to prove that it is doing something right. The answer would be a stark no; The First Avenue plays by rules that apply to a self-fostered attitude.


Teams of three on morning drive shows are a mere song but an addition of another makes them a gospel to abide by during troubled early hours. The forth element in the show comes in the form of sports presenter, Sizwe Mabena who has to hold the stations flag high when competing with other commentators about developing matters on the field.


However the main anchors have had their own fair share of woes career wise, it is a notably remembered lore that Glen Lewis exchanged airwave blows with DJ Fresh during the latter’s YFM era. Their spat was a wave of giggle worthy parodies about each other on who has the bragging rights to alpha maledom when behind the mic. But like two warring rappers would bob and weave against each other through heated slander in the public eye, nobody knows the beginning and end of what is genuinely personal or gimmick for sake upping ratings. In Unathi’s case, a refusal to host a show on Women’s day at the command of her then station manager, Bondo Ntuli, at YFM was laid bare on tabloid pages.



The First Avenue has put the two in a stasis of rejuvenation with the evocation that there is no longer nothing to lose (for now). The show’s features have a healthy mix of structured tone, charisma and where needs be a purposefully whimsical value add for the listeners. A feature such as ‘Today In History’, is one that has been pummeled to death on radio shows across the board, in the wake of the fun fair that is The First Avenue, it is greased with light conversation drivers such an announcement by the team a few odd shows ago that a particular day was commemorated as a ‘No Gossip Day.’ That is the precise dosage that has kept ears listening, one with palatable chemistry. It may have been a slip and slide career for the main anchors but their latest formula renders them comfortable and with no immediate contender depriving them of glorious sleep at night. For in the morning all those who have come full circle are going one way, straight to The First Avenue.


The First Avenue comes alive every morning on weekdays from 06:00 – 09:00

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