Fluff is not all that young people want from radio

Generation Y: Panelists at Joburg Radio Day discussed ways of keeping the youth tuned in. Photo: Luca Kotton.

Generation Y: Panelists at Joburg Radio Day discussed ways of keeping the youth tuned in. Photo: Luca Kotton.

The Joburg Radio Days conference ended today with a focus on the youth segment of radio consumers. Rofhiwa Madzena weighs in on the debate.

The Debate

Radio today does not focus enough on the youth , according to one of the speakers on this morning’s opening panel on the final day of the 2014 Joburg Radio Days conference at Wits University. Speakers on this panel tried to outline their various approaches to attracting and servicing the youth market.

Lerato Makate, programming manager at Voice of Wits said: “VowFM radio is more than just an on-air party.” She added that the perception that young people do not like talk and intellectual content on radio station needs to be changed. Makate said radio needs to focus on a combination of talk and music which is something “not many campus radio stations do.”

J.P Schlueter, formerly of German youth station Dasding, was also a part of the panel. He emphasised that even the staff of youth stations need constant reevaluation especially as they cease to be young people. “It’s important for young people to make programming for young people,” Schleuter said and added that systems in Germany are not favourable to youth development.

Schlueter argued that for success in youth radio, stations need to be radical and consistent but at the same time regularly make changes that keep up with the youth.

The CEO of Yfm, Kanthan Pillay countered the call for more intellectual content on radio stations whose target market is young people. After a comment from that the audience that “youth radio is filled with mindless fluff … it sidelines intellectual programming to an hour,” Pillay said the more serious content on youth radio needs to be “broken down into bite-size chunks” and integrated into everyday radio so that listeners can have continue to have interest.

Pillay did say that having a great physical presence in society appeals to the young people. This thought was shared by Makate who added that being on the ground allows young people accessibility to bring and discuss issues that affect them.

My thoughts

A great deal of the conversation that took place today was great in the sense that it stressed the importance of the inclusion of young people into all forms of broadcast media.

Generation Y (or is it X?) as we are known is the future and it is essential that the previous generation of broadcast media pioneers consider our relevance in an increasingly digital society, one which we understand and can navigate through better.

While there is the understanding that there needs to be a greater presence of youth radio in society, there seems to be a disconnect in the ways that this could be established. “Mindless fluff” works just fine for many young people and some radio stations capitalise on this but I think that in doing so, they have ignorantly chosen to look past other, more relevant issues and ideas relevant to young people.

It’s a challenging process to integrate the new with the old but it is something that needs to happen.

Even though there are some disparities in the way this process is supposed to occur it is encouraging to see that there are debates and efforts towards this end.

SABC COO calls for more media regulation

UNDER FIRE : Hlaudi Motsoeneng, SABC COO listens to questions from audience members at Johannesburg Radio Days conference.

UNDER FIRE : Hlaudi Motsoeneng, SABC COO, listens to questions from audience members during a heated discussion at the morning session of the Joburg Radio Days conference. Photo: Luca Kotton

“We need to regulate media generally,” said  Hlaudi Motsoeneng during  a heated discussion about the SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation), at this morning’s opening session of the Joburg’s Radio Days conference at Wits University.

The SABC acting COO (Chief Operations Office), added that “if you are a journalist and you don’t have ethics and you mislead […] we need to take your license.”

Motsoeneng was part of panel of speakers that included Prof Anton Harber, head of Wits Journalism and SOS Support Public Broadcasting coordinator Sekoetlane Phamodi.

The session was titled “20 years of democratic public radio” but quickly shifted focus to the SABC and its mandate as a public broadcaster.

Harber set the tone for the discussion by reflecting on the ideal-typical role of a public broadcaster in a democracy. In reference to South Africa’s public broadcaster he said, “Why does the SABC seldom produce good journalism and not set a high bar for quality journalism?”

Phamodi spoke about maladministration at executive levels of the SABC and said, “What happens right at the top of the SABC really does filter down the value chain of the SABC and into our homes.”

Motsoeneng, clearly upset by some of the comments of his fellow panelists, referred to Harber and Phamodi as “people who talk about what they think and not what they know.”

Listen to some of Motsoeneng’s comments here.

Motsoeneng said the SABC is one of the best run organisations in the country and said that he will continue to insist on 70% of good news at the SABC.

“Let me tell what we have done, and you don’t need a degree to do this, you need a brain … You need to be a visionary, you need to have a strategy.”

Motsoeneng said that in order to undo the “brainwashing” that journalism students undergo at university-based journalism schools, the SABC will establish a school to train its own journalists.


Follow our live blog of the conference here.




Investigative journalism on radio

This article first appeared on Jocoza.

Peter Horung stressed the importance of investigative research for radio stations, at the opening day of the Radio Days Conference at Wits University yesterday. 

Andy Carvin 2

Andy Carvin describes how NPR makes use of twitter. Photo: Prelene Singh

Radio can and should be creating news agendas and engaging in investigative research.

This is what NDRs Peter Hornung emphasised in a session about radio news at the fourth Joburg Radio Conference in Johannesburg. NDR is a German broadcaster and their team has won national awards for their investigative work.

Hornung said radio stations should invest in investigative research, especially because competition is getting harder, and there is a need for quality radio.

[pullquote]Investigative research on radio can be better than TV[/pullquote]
“Radio needs to be creating its own news agenda. Strengthening journalistic profiles, credibility and social relevance,” said Hornung.

“Investigative research on radio can be better than TV and better than newspapers and magazines,” said Hornung

In another room at the same time, former KayaFM station manger Charlene Deacon, shared her experiences about how she turned the ailing station around a few years ago.

Deacon became part of the station when it was only three years old but she was the ninth manager and it was already R25 million in debt. Now the station is one of the biggest talk radio stations in Johannesburg:”I knew my strategy was working when everyone said that KayaFM was a friendly station.”

Deacon also shared some leadership tips: “In running a station, say what you mean and mean what you say. Understand that the people are your power. While you’re being thick-skinned you need to be kind.”  Deacon said that one of the challenges she faced was with the staff: Removing incompetent staff- recruiting the right quality … easier said than done.


Sam Cavanagh, producer of the Andy&Hamish show talks about social media and radio. Photo: Dinesh Balliah

Skills development in radio

Skills development and challenges around training is what Lanni Smith and Charlton Philiso addressed in yet another breakaway session. Smith is a Director of Development in the Asia-Pasific Audiovisuel Exterieur de la France while Philiso is a Senior Manager at MICT SETA (Media, Information and Communications Technology Sector Education and Training Authority.

Peter Malebye

MTN’S General Manager Peter Malebye of Ecosystem Development and Innovation talks social media devices. Photo: Prelene Singh

“Skills development is a key success factor in any business. The same applies for community radios,” said Philiso. He said that one of the challenges they face is retaining skilled people once they have been trained.

Smith spoke about some of the work Planet Radio does in terms of providing training to community radios and other parts of the world.

The conference continues today. Visit the conference site for regular updates or follow @jhbradiodays on Twitter.

Wits News: Joburg Radio Days 3-5 July


[Information taken from Wits News. Email wits.news@wits.ac.za for more information.]

The annual Joburg Radio Days international conference will take place from 3 – 5 July 2013 and the programme promises to be bigger and better than before, with top South African and overseas speakers.

If you’re in radio, you can’t afford to miss this important event on the radio calendar. Hosted by the Wits Radio Academy the conference is the only one of its kind in Africa.

There are sessions of interest to commercial radio, public and community radio; to producers, managers, marketers, editors, DJs; veterans and newbies – anybody with a passion for radio.

Come to a morning, a day or the whole conference.  Applications to attend the conference are now available online. Click here for more information on the topics and registration.   

Date: 3 – 5 July 2013

Venue: Wits Club, West Campus, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

For enquiries, registration and costs, contact radiodays@journalism.co.za