Ukhozi fires salvo in battle of the airwaves

2009-08-22 09:21

DURBAN-based Ukhozi FM is heating up the dial in the battle for Gauteng’s

airwaves. The latest Radio Audience Measurement figures reveal that Ukhozi was

Gauteng’s sixth favourite radio station between March and July this year. The station now has 465 000 listeners in the province after gaining 120 000 new listeners during the five-month period. Metro FM has not grown.

The stations have 606 000 and 579 000 listeners respectively.

Some argue that producers are the engines driving success while others say station managers matter more. Ukhozi FM station manager Bongi Magudulela says the station’s success was a

team effort.

“The most important thing for us is that we are growing in the province. It’s

not so much about the ranking,” Magudulela says with glee.

Nationally, the station is leading the pack with a whopping 4.6 million


“Gauteng is where the money is. We’re number one in the country so why can we

not grow in Gauteng?”

Ukhozi’s war chest for Gauteng includes an aggressive road show. It runs

outside broadcasts across the province to meet new listeners personally.

A few years ago it roped in big names like DJ Sbu whom it hoped would help

crack the Gauteng market.

He has since left the station but Magudulela says his stint also boosted

Ukhozi’s profile. During the DJ Sbu era, the station managed a number four

ranking for a while.

Highveld tops the Gauteng tables with 626 000 listeners, followed by Metro and then Kaya. Metro Matona Sakupwanya says they are not shaken by the

decline in Gauteng. The station has lost about 33 600 listeners, says Sakupwanya

who believes this is in line with their strategy to move up the listener income


She says the stations three-year strategy was drawn up with this potential

loss in mind. “Our strategy is on track and we are losing where we intended to

in terms of LSM breakdown,” she says.

Sakupwanya says the drop could be attributed to the Confederations Cup, the election period and school holidays, which all took place during the research period. Four months ago Metro refreshed its line-up. Some of the weekday changes included replacing breakfast show host Thomas Msengana with Kenny Maistry and adding Leko Ngcobo to Penny Lebyane’s show. “The line-up is on track and we can only make a call on whether or not certain shows are yielding the desired results after at least four diaries (audience measures),” he says. Kaya FM station manager Greg Maloka says it has secured a loyal following

through the years. Kaya, largely seen as old school, is also about to introduce

some changes.

Maloka says its playlist has changed dramatically over the last eight months,

with certain genres replaced by ‘newer’ classics.

“The 16 000 loss of listeners was statistically insignificant. We increased

our LSM 9 and became third favourite station, we were previously at number five.

“The key for us is more on improving the quality of the audience, which might result in some losses.” Radio presenter Thabiso Sikwane will join Kaya FM next month as host of a new

talk show, says Maloka.

Kaya did not make any line-up changes this year.

“There was no need at the time, the station was stable and I needed to

immerse myself in what the audience had been exposed to, what they like and

where we should be based on real audience needs as opposed to reshuffling for

the sake of it.”

He says reshuffled line-ups work if executed to match audience needs and

expectations, and that the changes fulfil business imperatives.

“We offer a sanctuary through our music, we offer nostalgic entertainment, a

helping and guiding hand through shows like our business show which is

unsurpassed when compared to most with the same target market. Our talk shows focus on issues that matter to our audience and are delivered with sincerity and by well-respected hosts. “Kaya is all inclusive, so family life in the 21st century is pivotal to us. We offer a shared purpose when concerned with aspects affecting our listeners.”

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