South Africa's first commercial radio station, Springbok Radio, is back on air by popular demand. The Springbok Radio Preservation Society of South Africa, a non-profit organisation based in Johannesburg, resurrected the old radio station by launching a fully fledged Internet radio service earlier this month.
The new station is referred to as The Internet Radio Service of Springbok Radio.com. The streaming service operates from the society's website at www.springbokradio.com
The site was overloaded to a point that it went down on the second day after it launched on Tuesday, 1 July 2008, says John Ferreira, the marketing executive for the Springbok Radio Preservation Society of South Africa. “On our first day on air we had 19 000 people streaming in, on the second day we had 24 000; that demand was [so] big for our system that it crashed. However, we were able to go back on air after nine days using a bigger stream that can cope with an overload.”
Ferreira says the society has been collecting a treasure trove of comedies, drama, suspense horror stories and restoring and archiving all that had been lost over the years. “Over 20 000 original programmes have been found thus far. Comedies, dramas, horror stories spanning over 30 years were only broadcast once and we are of the opinion that those programmes deserve to be heard again.”
All new programmes concentrate on nostalgia and are presented in the old format associated with Radio Springbok. “We operate for 24 hours a day, repeating a six-hour compilation of programmes four times daily to accommodate listeners both home and abroad,” says Ferreira.
The society hasn't made the decision yet to commercialise the station, although there have been inquiries from big corporates wanting to associate with the station.
The history of Springbok Radio
On 1 May 1950, for the first time in the history of this country, Afrikaans- and English-speaking South Africans woke up to the voice of Eric Egan broadcasting for the first time on the wireless that morning.
Before the station could be launched, the SABC spent close to five years investigating how a commercial radio station would supplement its existing English and Afrikaans public service networks. After a consultation with Lord Reith of the BBC and the South African government, Springbok Radio was launched, broadcasting on the AM frequency.
The station migrated to FM after the frequency was launched.
Commercial TV is said to have caused the termination of Springbok Radio when it was launched in 1976. Subsequently, the station was closed down on 31 December 1985.