Jozi FM extends reach
Soweto's backyard radio - Jozi Fm - is no longer only available to audiences in the south western townships. At the beginning of August 2008, the station was added to Multichoice's Dstv platform, allowing South Africans throughout the country to listen to one of the biggest community radio stations in the country.
The addition of umsagasi o wu makhelwane wa se Soweto on DStv also means that audiences in countries such as Botswana, DRC, Lesotho and Namibia can now tune in to the station synonymous with Cheaters.
This year also marks the 13th anniversary of the Dube-based community station, which, with a listenership of 533 000 on a seven days period, will be looking at re-branding and changing its identity to attract more listeners and investors.
Jozi FM came into being when two former community stations were merged in 1999. Buwa and Soweto community radio both had to alternate broadcasting times every six months as both stations could only broadcast for 12 hours a day.
The station is still faced with challenges as advertisers do not believe in community stations. “There is still a bad stigma associated with community radio stations,” says Rachel Ndawo, sales and marketing manager for the station.
Not taken seriously
“Media buyers still have doubts about spending money and investing on community radio stations... As a result we are not taken seriously. We are told that it lacks quality [and] the equipment is dodgy. Unfortunately for us they have chosen to ignore the fact that we broadcast quality that is uninterrupted.
“Another thing that we have been told is that they can never trust that we are going to play their adverts. We subscribe to Aircheck, which is a broadcast monitoring service provider that tracks and archives ads played on a daily basis and the overall effectiveness of an execution. The methodology is rapid and reliable,” explains Ndawo.
“With us being on [the] DStv bouquet it means clients will be able to listen to the station from anywhere in the country and will be able to check if their ads have been played on time.”
Media sales houses Media Connection and Motswako's Media M-Point Sales have been tasked to sell on behalf of the station, and help media planners and advertising agencies make knowledgeable decisions concerning community radio.
“Our target audience is LSM 4 - 10 because there are such people in Soweto. Irvin Khoza, the chairperson of Orlando Pirates, Winnie Madikizela Mandela reside in Soweto - just check the types of cars entering the highway from the township every morning and in the afternoon. That tells you the type of people who reside in this township,” she says.
In conclusion, Ndawo says, “We ask the industry to look at us differently: we are sitting at 533 000, we are not like any other community station. We want to break into commercial. Sowetans have money, buying power, can afford expensive cars, own plasma TVs and they have satellite dishes in their shacks.”
In 2007, the station made headlines when the management of the station was accused of misconduct, unfair suspensions and mismanagement of funds. It was also alleged that R3 million went missing from the station's funds and that board members did not have the station's best interest at heart. Three staff members - Mbuyiselo ‘Zulu Boy' Mhlanga, Nolly Gomati and Tshenolo Montshojang - were suspended on full pay without being charged.
According to Ndawo, the station had an in-house investigation and a disciplinary hearing. Then the suspended staff members took the matter to the CCMA and lost their case when arbitration ruled in favour of the station.
About Tshepiso SeopaTshepiso Seopa was a junior journalist at Bizcommunity.com.