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Jozi Fm's amazing rise

By unknown | Jan 02, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Patience Bambalele

Patience Bambalele

As we get into the mood of the new year, it is probably the right time to look at the history of one of the most successful, and yet troubled radio stations, Jozi Fm - one of the best community radio stations in Africa.

Formed 12 years ago, the station, despite the scarcity of resources, defied all odds and shot straight to the top.

When Jozi Fm started, it battled to secure listenership but good quality programming carried the day. It was not given a long bill of life but it thrived despite criticism.

Everyone was surprised when its ratings hit rocket high faster than expected.

Like all stations, it had its ups and downs, firing deejays in droves and changing station managers like underwear.

Based at Khaya Centre in Dube, Soweto, when Jozi Fm started in 1995 it was known as Soweto Community Radio.

In 2000, Soweto Community Radio and Buwa Radio merged to form Jozi Fm. Broadcasting in isiZulu, isiXhosa, English, Sesotho, Sepedi, Setswana and Xhintsonga, the station has unearthed amazing talent.

Among the DJs who launched their careers at the station are the late Fana Khaba, Penny Lebyane, Zanele Magoso-Luhabe, Mapaseka Makoti, Phindi Gule, Patrick Guma, Khanyi Mkhonza, Vusi Langa, Hlengiwe Mabaso, Nyakalo Leine, Christ Matshaba, Owatile Jacobs, Siphiwe Mtshali, Papa Moalusi and Khumbuzile Thabethe.

About 80 percent spread their wings and joined bigger stations such as Kaya Fm, Metro Fm, Motsweding Fm, Lesedi Fm, SAFm and Y-Fm and East Coast Radio.

Those who remained, such as Dudu Gama, Andrew Tshaka and Rich Twala, are successful in their own right.

It did not end there. The station has acted as the main DJ feeder for many radio stations in Gauteng, North West and Free State.

Jozi Fm targets working-class multi-cultural communities in Soweto and surrounding areas.

The station's radio format comprises 50 percent music and 50 percent discussion. It covers Soweto, Kagiso, Lenasia, Krugersdorp, Randfontien, Kempton Park, Germiston and Alberton.

Launching the station, the then manager, Tshepo Mahange, said: "Soweto has been written off because of the exodus of inhabitants to the northern suburbs. Soweto has a mass of talent. When people started to move out of the townships they quickly forgot what Soweto is all about.

"Radio is a forum by which the youth of this township can change the course of life in Soweto. They are the ones who will bring back the pride of Soweto by their role in broadcasting."

When the station started, its aim was to create stars of tomorrow. However, lately it has attracted bad publicity.

Recently, Jozi Fm was embroiled in a controversy over control of the radio station by various groups, challenging the legitimacy of the current management and the board.

The issue of contracts became a huge problem each and every year. Lack of communication is among the factors that have benefited to the sinking ship.

Programme managers have often been accused of nepotism.

Some of the station's achievement includes reaching 500 000 listenership.


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