Teamvuvu’s Liesl Frankson spent part of her winter break at the annual Joburg Radio Days Conference hosted by the Wits Radio Academy. This is her account of the experience.  


Joburg Radio Days ended on a high note today with the conference continuing to trend on twitter.

Professor Franz Kruger, Director of Wits Radio Academy, encouraged everyone in attendance to “tweet early, tweet often” – a strategy that proved useful in getting the conference to trend on twitter at various times over the last three days.

The three day long conference aimed at radio practitioners, managers and researchers among others was held at the Wits Club in Johannesburg. The event hosted a variety of speakers from the radio industry around the world and attracted participants from 12 countries.

However it wasn’t Prof Kruger’s strategy alone that made the conference a twitter sensation, it was the volume of good information that just had to be shared!

Off the back of my mid-year radio course, Joburg Radio Days was possibly the best place to really get the inside scoop on developments and hopes for the future of radio.

One of the most important things I’ve taken away with me is that radio is not dead. There was a lot of talk about the threat of online music streaming programs like iRadio & Pandora, but guest speakers like Gillian Ezra from Simfy, definitely put those fears to rest.

“There’s something magic about radio, it’s about interactivity and streaming won’t replace the relationships with presenters, the competitions and the magic of being on air.”

Radio has a special place in the world, it’s immediate, and as Wits vice-chancellor Prof Adam Habib said: “Radio is fundamental to a democratic society.”

These words stuck with me throughout the conference particularly during discussions around the radio landscape in countries like Zimbabwe, Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Radio in these countries with ongoing political upheaval is sometimes all that people have for receiving crucial information. Trying to run an independent operation in some of these environments is incredibly difficult.

[pullquote align=”right”]We all want the same things from radio[/pullquote]

Radio enables communication and ongoing conversations which circulate more ideas. This results in increased empowerment across all parts of society, which is obviously a problem if you’re the government in some of these places

My head is still reeling with the wealth of information I’ve acquired over the last three days not only in the radio sphere but in general, there was much to learn about countries, politics, business but mostly people.

The bottom line is no matter where we are and how different we are, we all want the same things from radio, to be informed, entertained, educated and also heard. We want to hear our voices and our stories, the things we can relate to from our radio stations.