Social Media following causes a stir in South African radio


In South African terms, the month of April is the new radio calendar month for Mzansi radio industry, where a number of radio stations change and reshuffle their lineups in order to beef up and strengthen the quality of their offering for their audiences. One has to mention this though, these changes come up with a number of casualties where a number of radio personalities fall on the wayside, while some don’t know what the future holds for them in terms of their job prospects.

Part of the shift in the radio business is caused by the social media following phenomenon where a number of good radio presenters such as Alfie K of Motsweding FM and Just Ice Ramohlola of Radio 2000 are taken off the air due to lack of big social media following on their respective social media platforms.

To prove my point on Alfie K, the listeners of the radio station Motsweding FM organised themselves and took it to the street against the brother for being taken off air. it’s sad to see a legend like Alfie leave radio because of the internet and new media with 20 plus years of radio experience.

We live in an era whereby social media influence is becoming a currency to stay on or keep your radio job. If your an old radio head or planning a radio career in the near future, do yourself a favour and start growing your social media numbers. If you don’t have the numbers, sorry next time.

The reason most radio stations want celebrities to join their lineup is that they want to grow their numbers. We all know that apart from news, music and entertainment, radio is all about advertising and appealing to brands. Advertisers now understand the power of influencers. The truth is, there are no bigger influencers than radio presenters. Many radio presenters have larger social media following than those of the stations they work for, this is according to Ultimate Media, a radio research company.

Unfortunately, many commercial radio stations misinterpreted the rise and rise of social media, and saw this as an opportunity to drop trained broadcasters for the likes of influencers and celebrities to try to draw in and keep their listeners with no guarantee that those numbers would turn into an appointment with listening culture, writes Rhodé Marshall of Channel24.

In South Africa, there’s only one radio station that I know which it doesn’t look at the social media numbers in order for a radio personality to get a job, they focus only on pure talent and the love of radio. That radio station is Hot919, a community radio station based in Northriding, Randburg. Some of the station’s radio presenters include Treasure Shabalala, Tony Murrell and Jeremy Mansfield. Hot919 has been on the air for almost 5 years and is doing well. The station runs a number of radio campaigns within their community, surrounding areas around Johannesburg and there’s a radio ad after each song.

My question to anyone who’s reading this article, when it comes to on-air radio talent or radio personalities should it be about the talent or a number of followings, and what happened to the radio being a theatre of the mind or now it’s all about keeping social media timelines busy with feeds?


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