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.

Hunt looks to the youth for his team’s success


THE BOSS: Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt credits “fantastic” Witsies for filling the home stadium and creating a great atmosphere for the Clever Boys.                                  Photo: Luke Matthews

THE BOSS: Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt credits “fantastic” Witsies for filling the home stadium and creating a great atmosphere for the Clever Boys. Photo: Luke Matthews

The players of Bidvest Wits have been on a winning streak, having won three matches in a row this year. This can, in part, be attributed to the amazing support students’ shower on their team, according to the team’s dynamic and experienced coach.

“The students have been fantastic,” Gavin Hunt, the 49-year-old Bidvest Wits head coach who praised the students of the university for filling up stadiums with enthusiasm.

This helped to create a great atmosphere for recent home matches.

In an interview with Wits Vuvuzela on Tuesday, the six-foot tall coach praised Wits students for their support.

This, he felt, contributed to the form of the players. The team is now placed third on the log, with a game in hand. Saturday saw a 3-1 victory over fellow league chasers, Mamelodi Sundowns. The game was highlighted by an impressive debut by 18-year-old Tebogo Moerane.

However, Hunt still believes there is a lot of work to be done and football changes will happen slowly but surely in a controlled manner. Despite the attractive football played this season, Hunt said, “I have a way I like to play and it will take a little bit of time”.

Varsity Cup Football

When asked about Varsity Cup football, Hunt said it is a good vehicle for talent identification and promoting the game on campus. He added, “I feel the varsity team should be closer linked to Bidvest Wits”.

[pullquote]Bidvest Wits has one of the strongest youth development programs in the country.[/pullquote]

Hunt will be watching the Varsity Cup tournament looking to potential talent to invite to training. It is clear from his Supersport United days, where he won three consecutive Premier Soccer League (PSL) titles, that Hunt is passionate about youth development. Bidvest Wits has one of the strongest youth development programs  in the country and when asked, Hunt said that bigger clubs don’t produce academy players because of their financial muscle to buy players.

However, he said, “clubs like ours; we have to do it through the youth”. Hunt said he sees the PSL as more of a development league and a good platform to give young players the opportunities to play. Witsies can look forward to their team doing well in the Nedbank Cup, says Hunt. Regarding the Clever Boys’ league aspirations, Hunt said, “Chiefs are going to have to explode, if anyone stands a chance, which I don’t see happening but anything is possible in football”.

Bidvest Wits’ next game is scheduled for the ninth of March, after the international break. The team will be looking to continue their three-match winning streak in an away game against Polokwane City.

Hunt, the man

Hunt seems to be ideally placed to lead Bidvest Wits, describing his life thus: “Football, football and sport.”

Sport is his passion, when he is not soccer coaching, he is playing golf off  his two handicap. The member of the Modderfontein Golf Club, also likes to read widely on a variety of topics.