World Radio Day: Campus radio, shaping the future of the radio industry
By: Mxolisi Ndongeni & Dumile Mlambo – 13 February 2024
Annually, 13 February marks World Radio Day – an opportunity to celebrate radio as a medium. It is a day to promote international cooperation between radio broadcasters, to encourage major networks and local radio stations to foster access to information and freedom of expression.
World Radio Day has a number of objectives, namely: to raise awareness among the general public and the media about the value of public service audio; to encourage decision makers to promote free, independent, pluralistic radio and to strengthen networking and international cooperation between broadcasters.
This is a historic day for South Africa’s radio business because of how rapidly it has risen in recent years. Given how far the industry has progressed, it is fascinating to notice that radio has now moved closer to the listener, even in terms of proximity. In the past, public radios and commercial stations were the only platforms open to the public. Now, the radio station space has expanded enormously to the point where radio stations are located closer to communities, radio stations that are primarily regional and district-based, and even in institutions.
That said, from VUT FM, it would be remiss not to take a moment to reflect on the on the vital role of campus radio and the future of radio. Over and above their critical work of providing reliable information and edutainment to their listeners and the broader communities in and around the Vaal, campus radio stations remain an important communication and marketing tool for the universities which they represent. VUT FM is no exception – it is a brand vehicle of the Vaal University of Technology.
From a student life perspective, campus radio stations in effect, help to enhance the quality of life of a university community – just as it is the case at VUT.
Notably, over the years, campus radio stations have become incubators of talent so much so that in SA, several radio presenters who are now in mainstream media and some moved onto build successful music careers, have cut their teeth at campus radio stations. In a nutshell, these stations provide a learning environment for students and individuals in the community who are interested in media and broadcasting production. Safe to say, the future of the radio industry not only in SA but across the globe, is in the hands of campus radio.
At VUT FM, we occasionally stand out as competitors for the same listenership that larger stations seek, such as the student market pool and young people in the surrounding areas. Some stations, rather than viewing us as competitors, prefer to collaborate with us so that talent from campus stations may be easily identified. This is obvious in the number of talents identified by campus stations and now working for larger stations. This is fantastic for the profiles of such campus stations, having talent found on campus and now working for big media.
To brag and boast a bit, might I mention some of big names industry names that are associated with VUT FM, including Phakisi Mokoena (Lesedi FM), Zelda Nkambule (Lesedi FM), Lenny T Legodi (Thobela FM), Jay Matli (Capricorn FM), and Lerato Hoffele (947). On other university media, we have Anele Mdoda, who started at Tuks FM and now works at 947, and Uncle Taps, who started at UJ FM and moved to YFM, to mention.
Campus Media is no longer just a radio station on campus, but also has a presence in nearby communities, cities, and businesses. Because of its nature, which is tied to a university, it is seen as most reliable for information, education, accurate news reporting, and entertainment as it targets the youth, particularly from universities. As we are approaching election time, campaigns such as the voter education are also broadcast for the benefit of the listeners.
To make sure that information is conveyed to the listeners effectively, a great deal of work is done behind the scenes. Indeed, content offices are available at campus stations to guarantee this. This is an additional option that is rarely spoken in radio; it is the effort that goes on behind the scenes to give a show its distinctive tone.
In VUT FM, the University has a platform to readily engage with its students, staff, and the public, as well as to promote its programme offerings, activities in the university calendar that are covered internally including graduations, seminars, and other official activities.
To celebrate World radio Day, VUT FM will be hosting an award ceremony on 28 February 2024 to honour on-air personalities, producers, newsreaders and trailblazers who have been nominated to several prestigious awards.
About the authors:
*Mxolisi Ndongeni is the Campus Radio Station Manager: VUT FM
*Dumile Mlambo is the HOD: Corporate Communication at Vaal University of Technology (VUT)