VoW set to make big waves in 2015

VoW is re-branding itself during O-Week, with a new look and wider reach. Photo: Dinesh Balliah

VoW is re-branding itself during O-Week, with a new look and wider reach. Photo: Dinesh Balliah

Voice of Wits (VoW FM) is heading for bigger and better things in 2015, as the campus radio station prepares to expand its reach across Johannesburg.

The radio station, now in its fifth year since re-launching in 2011, will soon be broadcast for a 10km radius around its Braamfontein headquarters.

“Previously we had about a 2km range,” said station manager Mike Smurthwaite. This included the whole campus, with the exception of Parktown residence Junction, where the frequency experienced problems.

“But now we’re going to cover the whole of campus, Junction and even further into Braamfontein.” This, he explained, is what’s called “very high frequency” and means that more listeners will be able to tune in, from further away.

With plans to re-launch and promote with a fresh, new brand during O-Week, Smurthwaite and the team have a big task ahead of them. A new logo, more recording facilities and space, and plans to “invade public spaces without people even knowing it’s going to happen” are just some of what students and the Braamfontein community have to look forward to.

According to Smurthwaite, there are almost no spare radio frequencies available in Johannesburg, so when VoW was offered one, they jumped at the opportunity to improve their sound and reach.

“Our team worked all through the holidays to make this happen,” he said.

VoW increases power

STUDENTS who have not been able to listen to campus radio station VoWFM from the comfort of their own homes may be able to do so very soon.

Currently, The  Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is  conducting trials at VoW to look  into changing the current licence they have registered and to investigate solutions to a clash in frequency with Rippel FM in Pretoria.

“The licence we have currently is a low-power licence with a one-watt transmitter.

“What this means is that we can reach areas with a 3,75km radius from the station without interference [from buildings, mountains etc.] we would be able to reach 5-20km but this is impossible in Joburg,” said VoW station manager Michael Smurthwaite.

Smurthwaite said the problem with Rippel is that both stations share the same 90.5 FM frequency. He said the Rippel licence had a much larger transmission reach which resulted in some areas hearing Rippel when they should be receiving VoW.

“As part of our broadcaster mandate there are certain areas that we are supposed to reach, such as Junction in Parktown and Hillbrow as some of our students live there. We would also like to have students listen to us as they commute from their homes in Johannesburg,” Smurthwaite said.

ICASA conducted their first trial on Friday and VoW was heard from as far as Randburg.

“We have been dealing with ICASA for the past two years now with regards to this matter.

“During that time Tuks FM’s footprint was increased to reach Joburg which makes no sense because their university isn’t even here. Yet our matter remained unresolved. We put pressure on them to look into a solution,” said Smurthwaite.

Smurthwaite said if the clash with Rippel is not resolved then VoW may have to migrate to a different frequency.

He said they are already aware, however, that there are no frequencies available.

“I just want an increase in power so people can actually hear us,” Smurthwaite said.