20 Years of Community Radio in Mzansi

Posted: 30/12/2013 in Infotainment

Former Community Radio Personalities Phakisi Mokoena, Mojalefa Ntema and Motseki Mabuya.

Former community radio personalities Phakisi Mokoena (now with Lesedi FM) is seen with Vaal Times‘ Executive Team Mojalefa Ntema and Motseki Mabuya.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of community radio since inception back in 1993. The National Executive Committee of the National Community Radio Forum (NCRF) because of this has resolved to dedicate the remaining six months of the year from June to December as a period of activities through-out the country where you find community radio stations. The sector is now accounting for 8.7million listenership across the country which is above 25 percent of the industry.

Vaal Times caught up with local radio personalities, MTN Radio Award winner Motseki Mabuya, retired community radio host Mojalefa Ntema and Lesedi FM’s Phakisi Mokoena to relieve the milestone and share experiences, opinion and knowledge about this fascinating medium.
“Community radio has changed lives and is seen as a feeder for mainstream radio, however the 20 years of community radio existence is a mess and lots of talent has been thrown out of the mainstream, how does one explain the newly launched Power FM opting for retired on-air personalities instead of those groomed by our own community radio stations?

“Internal fighting within community radio stations contribute to its downfall and it so sad that loyal listeners are often left in the dark, optimal training needs to be given to radio presenters on how powerful and influential they can be once behind the microphone.

“We need to host a Vaal community radio indaba which will be developmental and debatable that will facilitate matters such as business models, management and sustaining community radio station,” says the outspoken Ntema.

NCRF now boost of 120 Community Radio Stations as members and have build NCRF Provincial Structures in all the nine provinces of the Republic of South Africa”.

Mabuya fondly known as “Letona la Bacha” said, “We’ve got above 150 community radio stations in the country yet we still expect certain stations to cater for a specific ethnic group, the emergence of
news channels and mainstream stations won’t even give that a second-look. For instance speaking the queen’s language on a community radio may have its consequences despite it being the universal way of communication. Community radio faces another challenge of sense of belonging from presenters and management alike, one need to understand that four or five years in the helm is enough and as such must pave way for others.

“The demise of a station makes one wonder how does its competitor fail to capitalise on that. As presenters we’ve got a tendency of blaming lack of resources for our inability to execute our work. Look, I believe content plays a major role in programming and producing a one hundred percent local content is expensive but then again it’s surprising that we can bring you national and
international news on local platform why don’t we use the same resources and localise content for our target market,” asked Mabuya.

Mokoena, a product of community radio who now plies his trade for a national radio station believes a lot still needs to be done in order to uplift the standard of local radio.

“Hosting a radio show without a producer is a definite no; in most instances you find three co-hosts spending roughly fifteen minutes on-air talking senseless stuff among themselves. Bear in mind that radio is all about information,” lamented Mokoena.

The CEO of Media Development and Diversity Agency, Lumko Mtimde said, “Community radio has grown from where people were not optimistic about its chances of survival. Sustainability in many respect is still a challenge faced by many radio stations and that demand training.”
“To a large extend we have had stations encountering financial problems even at times we don’t give them the funds all at once and that has assisted in making sure that the funds are not used for what they were not meant for,” Mtimde pointed out.

“I would also like to reject the RAMS released last week which are hell-bent to take the Community Radio Stations figures backward. We reject them with the contempt they deserve. We are not sure what are the agendas of attacking our figures. Community Radio Stations are here to stay!” concluded NCRF Chairperson, Sonnyboy Masingi.

Article: As published on Vaal Times (August 2013)

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