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Marketing & Media opinion

Regional radio stations should go back to basics

The troubles at the SABC are well documented. It will be pointless to list them - from board dysfunction to lack of quality programming in both television and radio. One that is rarely spoken about, however, is the role of the broadcaster's regional radio stations.
When this topic is brought up I often hear just 'how many millions listeners UkhoziFm has' and 'how well the station is doing'. Very little is mentioned about what kinds of programming these stations provide to the people of the regions they serve.

Many times when I travel to different provinces I tune in to these stations to hear what is happening in the area and I am often disappointed. It is not that they don't have content; they do... lots of it. However, what I hear being broadcast is not different to what I would hear on SAfm or Radio 2000. The two stations have a national footprint and one expects to hear major stories dominating the national agenda. I personally expect that if I am listening to PhalaPhala FM or Ligwalagwala FM I should predominately hear news from Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

National stories are not enough

It is not enough to just get national stories from Auckland Park and translate it to TshiVenda or Seswati. Investments should be made in local and regional content. There is so much news happening in Limpopo for example, that there can be a split in news and programming between national and regional. I don't think that the SABC established these regional stations to simply report and translate stories that come from Auckland Park. I also don't think that these stations are there to solely provide job opportunities in the regions. What is the point of hearing a news bulletin in TshiVenda or Seswati which is exactly the same as the bulletin on SAfm or Radio 2000?

Investing in local content should be paramount for these stations in order to flourish. Although there are shows like 'Tshiko' on PhalaPhala FM which talks about current affair issues, I don't think there is enough talk show programmes that create space for local content to be included in programming. I am not advocating turning regional stations to be mini-talk stations, but appealing that these stations should be driven by local content.

Competition for listenership is rife

Competition for listenership is rife throughout the country amongst regional, national, commercial and community radio stations and at most people will tune in to those stations which addresses their issues or what is happening around them. I am not going to listen to UkhoziFM for example to find out what is happening in the Northern Cape or Limpopo, but rather when I want to know what's happening in KZN or Johannesburg.

At UNISA Radio we are training young and upcoming journalists who should be dedicated to report stories in their area. It will not serve us any purpose to bring in journalists to the industry whose goal is to chase politicians. Now is the time to be focused to communities.
    
 

About Talifhani Munzhedzi

Talifhani Munzhedzi is a deputy station manager at UNISA Radio. The radio station strives to be amongst the few if not only campus radio stations to provide the talk radio format to students and staff. To listen to UNISA Radio go to http://radio.unisa.ac.za, to contact Tali Munzhedzi email .
    sanele mgaga
    Totally agree, but do remember that most SABC Radio stations are there to talk to people that prefer being spoken to/with in their language of choice, wherever they are throughout the country. Ukhozi FM is not primarily there to focus on events/news that happen in Newcastle, Vryheid, Mtubatuba, etc but is rather there to report news of national and regional importance to its listeners. Community radio stations will then focus on community news and stories, hence their existence.
    Posted on 12 Apr 2013 09:00
    Mu Ngcolosi
    Spot on. That is exactly what our mandate is about. Talifhani is mis informed and just seeking attention. Nobody wants to stay where he is. Why does he not come to mainstream radio. Eish!!
    Posted on 15 Apr 2013 19:45
    Koketso Mashika
    I completely agree with both of you. I do however believe that the gap should be narrowed.
    These platforms could act as a bridge between community and nationall stations, not just translate but strive for a balance between national , regional and community news, content and programming.
    Posted on 12 Apr 2013 12:45
    Mu Ngcolosi
    I might help you, by advising that the translation business is nonsense. There are independent journalist and editors for each platform. There is no translation what so ever.
    Posted on 15 Apr 2013 19:48
    Sipho Phendu
    For as long as medicre DJ's and presenters are appointed or offloaded to these stations, this will always remain a wet dream. I watch Bay TV almost daily and I promise you, they are far better than Umhlobo Wenene in terms of local content, such a pity that most people do not have access to it.
    Posted on 12 Apr 2013 14:27
    Mu Ngcolosi
    Umhlobo is a National Radio station . You might want to rexamine your comparison.
    Posted on 15 Apr 2013 19:51
    Mu Ngcolosi
    Umhlobo Wenene Nissan a National Radio Station. You might relook at your comment, otherwise it looks shallow.
    Posted on 15 Apr 2013 19:53
    Kgaugelo Pule
    I'd like to introduce a term called hyperlocal journalism, the definition of that term is that it refers to coverage of events and topics on an extremely small, local scale. This term is also linked to citizen journalism-this is what the SABC needs to invest in. With the advent of technology it is really easy and affordable to train citizen journalists who will be able to feed into their local stations and produces local programmes. Radio has the ability and power to speak to people in an a non-intrusive manner but I now believe it can be even more influential if it begins to have a hyperlocal strategy. Your SowetoTv, BayTv, MzansiMagic are doing exactly that-radio perhaps need to look over to television and see how things are been done in terms of hyperlocal content.
    Posted on 13 Apr 2013 14:16
    Mu Ngcolosi
    It is disappointing if you find some one choosing to moment in an area that clearly they are not informed in. It is further shocking if the said individualism involved in raising talent or teaching. The comments in this topic are immature and lack factual understanding of what Ukhozi FM stands for. The calcification of regional stations may be correct for others, but not for Ukhozi FM. I also think before we have opinions about next door we should clean our act. I was in the Radio Awards, but did not hear your station being called once, even as a nominee. Maybe you could use your programming insights in your own station, perhaps Tuks may be challenged a bit. I am not even surenif you understand the language we broadcast in. PLEASE, we looking for intelligent contributions not this. What do you know about quality programming. Your answer in Radio Awards achievements. Eish, not even one nomination???? So where do you find authority to write about something even bigger than you? When are you joining mainstream radio. Until then maybe would reserve my comments
    Posted on 15 Apr 2013 19:24
    Mu Ngcolosi
    Mu Ngcolosi

    It is disappointing if you find some one choosing to comment in an area that clearly they are not informed in. It is further shocking if the said individualism is involved in raising talent or teaching. The comments in this topic are immature and lack factual understanding of what Ukhozi FM stands for and clacification. The clacification of Ukhozi FM as a regional stations may be correct for others, but not for Ukhozi FM. I also think before we have opinions about next door we should clean our own act. I was in the Radio Awards, but did not hear your station UNISA RADIO being called once, even as a nominee. Maybe you could use your programming insights in your own station, perhaps Tuks may be challenged a bit. I am not even suren if you understand the language we broadcast in. PLEASE, we looking for intelligent contributions not this cheap and shallow articles. What do you know about quality programming. Your answer should be in Radio Awards achievements. Eish, not even one nomination???? So where do you find subject matter expert authority to write about something that is clearly bigger than you? When are you joining mainstream radio. Until then maybe you should reserve your comments.
    Posted on 15 Apr 2013 19:39
    Thabisho Mocumi
    I counldn't agree with you more Talifhani, you've hit the nail on the head.
    Posted on 19 Apr 2013 14:44
    Owen Rampha
    Some valid points have been raised frame either side of the fence.the facts are that most Sabc ALS stations are in fact national broadcasters . This means that they should reflect national content.
    Posted on 19 Jun 2013 03:34
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