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MTN Radio Awards: Joffe responds to Rothschild

I have read with interest Lance Rothschild's four-page response to my opinion piece on the MTN Radio Awards. I appreciate that he took the time but feel my questions have not been answered.
Also, comparing the MTN Radio Awards to the Oscars is a little farfetched - the MTN Radio Awards should be setting its own benchmark.

So, let me address Rothschild's response element by element.

LR: "That MTN gets value out of these awards should not come as a surprise to Joffers."

Indeed, it comes as no surprise but what is a surprise is that you have a title sponsor for an event and it still costs R950 (excluding VAT) for a seat. Can all community and PBS stations afford it and some still have to buy airline tickets to attend the dinner? The individual categories were also sponsored by other corporates - so, it still begs the question - what is MTN paying for?

LR: "The MTN Radio awards is a year-round programme."

Maybe I'm missing something but is a year not a long time to prepare for an awards gala dinner?

But if one year is needed, then this should alleviate the necessity of having 22 judges.

Get five independent judges (with specific expertise) for the year and let them listen to live radio. They don't need to travel, what with most stations now available on streaming audio. A year should give them ample time to sample the best of South African radio.

Listening to six-minute edited clips is not a fair gauge for awards. It needs to be live and I'm almost certain that having a totally independent panel of judges, with no link to any stations, would mean that many of the results would be very different. I won't go down that road for fear of denting some egos!

LR: "The Sandton Convention Centre is a premier venue."

Yes, it is and it's not easy to cater for over a 1000 people at a gala dinner. But I can assure you I'm not the only one who found the service and food to be very average. (Come on, Joffers, stop always worrying about your stomach!)

LR: "In addition, the production of the awards ceremony has to meet certain expectations and has to be a quality production."

Did I miss something here? I don't remember much in the way of any production apart from still graphics on the screen. It would have been nice to hear some radio clips of the finalists and even some comments from the 22 judges; it just felt like nominee after nominee, award after award, and nothing in between to spice it up.

LR: "The MTN Radio Awards is a living and developing programme and there were many awards because the programme included awards for each sector (Commercial, PBS, Community and Campus), and was expanded based on feedback from the industry over the previous awards presentation. We are, after all, recognising achievements and talent in the entire broadcast radio industry."

Adding awards every year will certainly help you grow the numbers but so many of the current categories could be combined into one.

For example, if a station wins "Best Morning Show", does that not include the finance, traffic, sports, producer, innovative packaging and on-air packaging? Yet, these are all separate categories, making for a long night of nominees and nearly 100 awards.

Judges and MCs

In my initial opinion piece, contrary to Rothschild's suggestions, I was neither critical of the judges nor the MCs but I do feel strongly that no judge nor, for that matter the CEO, should have a current tie to any station. It immediately creates an impression whether the judge excludes him or herself from whichever category or not.

In closing, well done to all the winners but I'm already pained by the amount of repeated MTN award-winning promos and self-glorification on some of the stations. Your listeners should be praising you, not you praising yourselves! So, once again, does the MTN Radio Awards actually reward excellence or is it an exercise in self-sponsored self-promotion?

For more:

About Graeme Joffe

Graeme Joffe, a former sports presenter for CNN and 94.7 Highveld Stereo, now hosts his own hard-hitting sports talk show "SportsFire" on Radio Today and is syndicated on West Coast FM in Namibia, 90.3fm in Plettenberg Bay and Knysna FM. He is also a co-founder of Township TV ( Email him and follow @joffersmyboy on Twitter.
Ntsoaki Shoeshoe Qhu
I have now been following this trail of discussion religiously. I must say it gets interesting with each post. I don’t think Mr Rothschild will be able to answer; "So, once again, does the MTN Radio Awards actually reward excellence or is it an exercise in self-sponsored self-promotion?" With that said, it is stated on their website (MTN Radio Awards) that, "It is the intention of the Awards to ensure that radio talent in all areas receives due recognition, and that talented producers and presenters at all radio stations are motivated … that meets the needs of their listener and entrenches the relationship between the station and the listener ".I will not say to what extent the awards achieve this, but as someone coming from the Community Radio sector, with friends in the industry, I think there is a level of motivation for presenters and producers that win or gets even allowed by the station management to nominate themselves for the #MTNRadioAwards. I think part of the reasons the station play the promos is because they are happy with their achievement. Motivation there for me is achieved. Since all this is done for the benefit of the listener and the relationship between the station and the listener, why not add the listener there as a judge. Perhaps #MTNRadioAwards can then pay for the ads to be flight on all the stations that have entered and run a few Ads on print. That will certainly benefit the community radio station- and they can use part of the advertising money to pay for flights or bus travels, accommodation and for the gala dinner. Geoff, I am sure then we can say MTN is actually spending something. :) My question to Mr Rothschild, are the #MTNRadioAwards a commercial event or an initiative by MTN to invest in our Society? I think this will then clarify, certainly to me, on whether MTN wants to spend on the awards or wants to break even, or perhaps even make a profit. Mr Rothchild, I think this is a really great suggestion, consider it for next time, will you. “… It would have been nice to hear some radio clips of the finalists and even some comments from the 22 judges; it just felt like nominee after nominee, award after award, and nothing in between to spice it up.”
Posted on 23 Apr 2012 13:32
Ntsoaki Shoeshoe Qhu
Please forgive me Joffe, I got your name all wrong ;(
Posted on 23 Apr 2012 13:33
Simone Puterman
The RAB is the Radio Advertising Bureau; I do not think it is all that relevant here. Do you perhaps mean the National Association of Broadcasters?
Posted on 23 Apr 2012 17:40
Sylvester Chauke
Your listeners should be praising you, not you praising yourselves!!This is the essence of this whole debacle. Lance should stop defending something so obviously suspect!!
Posted on 23 Apr 2012 20:35