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THE MADIA JUNE 2018

COMMUNITY RADIO Lance Rothschild Nkopane Maphiri Lloyd Madurai But this has led to the problem of some community stations hiding behind the veil of being a community radio station, while not embracing the true spirit of community radio. “Some stations, revenue-wise are doing exponentially well, but this community banner that they wear is veiled behind a couple of blanket drives, helping the SPCA, and having a charity golf day, where potentially community radio’s essence is supposed to be, in terms of a legacy point of view is not being fulfilled,” explains radio management and programming consultant, Tim Zunckel. Experienced talent Another factor contributing to the success of community stations is the influx of experienced talent, particularly presenters. Milosevich believes they are drawn by the nature of community radio. “Commercial is very strict with what you can say, what you can play and what you can do on air. Community is like bringing radio back to its roots,” she says. However, it is important to note that higher listener numbers doesn’t necessarily mean advertising revenue will follow. “The audience numbers may be there for a station, many are punching above their weight, but if they are not in nodal economic hubs, they may not have the advertising resources necessary to excel,” explains Nkopane Maphiri, CEO of The Media Connection. Conversely, a station may have advertising revenue generating abilities, but due to a saturation of choice in the market, may not have high listener numbers. The other end of the spectrum While it is positive to look at the success stories in South African community radio, both Zunckel and Maphiri stress that it’s equally important to recognise the vast majority of community stations that are struggling. Zunckel estimates that only 10% of community stations are sitting at a commercial level, while Nkopane pegs the maximum number of commercially viable community stations at 23%, a worrying figure for the South African radio industry. “ICASA has not been as thorough as it should have been in the licensing process over the past five years. The economic analysis of the sustainability of the stations has not been done properly, so the stations don’t have the tools to sustain themselves,” Maphiri explains. He re-emphasises that only those in nodal economic hubs have the advertising resources necessary to excel. While some community stations are shooting the lights out, the vast majority in the country are struggling, something which ICASA and the radio industry in general needs to pay attention to. But commercial stations also need to pay attention, otherwise a community one may come along and eat their lunch. • Michael Bratt is a multimedia journalist for Wag the Dog. He previously worked at several high profile media houses including CNBC Africa and Times Media Group. He obtained a Bachelor of Journalism Degree with Honours from Rhodes University. The Media | wagthedog.co.za P 17


THE MADIA JUNE 2018
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