When I was the evening presenter on East Coast Radio many many years ago, I had the honour of having the most black listeners on the station. It was something that that managers bragged about. Remember that that was many years ago when radio stations were just starting to target black listeners. Okay, I admit, it’ very easy getting a black market in the evening. At that time there were issues with television ownership and electricity. But I am still proud of the fact that black listeners listen to me. Even today, my sport show has a massive black following and we certainly do not focus on any race group. Sure, we have football until it comes out of our pores, but it is the most popular sport in the world.
Despite this, station management, across the radio spectrum in South Africa, think that black people only listen to black people and white people only listen to white people. What a load of rubbish. People of both race groups don’t give a shit what race the presenter of a radio station is. As long as the presenter is well-spoken, intelligent and knows his or her topics, then why should a listener care what race that presenter is?
Are we still so racist in South Africa that we only listen to presenters of our own colour? A presenter and his/her producer’s job is to gain as many listeners as possible. Is station management saying that because you are black, pick up black listeners?
I love the fact that a station like ECR has an all male, all white, daytime line up. They have told the radio establishment to get stuffed and have put genuine talent on the air. (Not counting Darren of course from his Midrand studio.) The station knows that music is their core product and that the presenters can adapt and present a show that people of all race groups enjoy. They also realise that there is competition in the market and they target a certain race group. So they work around it. Very Clever.
Then there is a station like 5fm in the SABC stable. Moving DJ Fresh from Yfm to 5fm seemed like an inspired idea. Until you switch on the radio. Is there a ‘fresh’ idea, thought, comedy, anything on his show? Who is actually running the show? His traffic girl?
Why are there no white presenters on traditionally black stations? As black people spread their cultures and ideas across the airwaves and help white people understand them, shy are there no white presenters doing the same on the black stations?
Why do we still refer to stations as black and white? Is Kaya Fm a black station or do they just target a lower LSM than Highveld?
These new stations that have been given licenses over the last few months are all employing some new up and coming black talent in the hope that these men and women will pick up listeners. Who is training them? That is another debate for another day.
I wish I had the answers to my questions. I think I do but I just cannot implement them. I am just a lowly freelancer.