Master of the airwaves

2017-07-25 14:02
Jerry Jones in the studio at KZN Capital 104 FM.

Jerry Jones in the studio at KZN Capital 104 FM. (Ian Carbutt)

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Jerry “The Captain” Jones continues to cement his name in the community radio industry.

“My relationship with radio dates back to the 70s when I was still growing up in Sobantu. I was an entertainer from an early age. It must have been hereditary ... both my parents were singers. I loved entertaining people and had stints as a deejay at weddings and parties. With the money I made I bought an amplifier and microphone to record myself,” he said.

Jones said after completing his matric, a family friend who recognised his talent enrolled him for a marketing and sound engineering course. “I returned from Johannesburg and started ‘taxi radio’. I recorded myself broadcasting and distributed cassettes to taxi drivers to play for commuters.

“Taxi radio was a hit and I realised then that there was a gap for a community radio station in the city.”

Jones said it took him 20 years to get approval for a licence to open a radio station. “I applied numerous times with the then Independent Broadcasting Authority and was unsuccessful. It was rejection after rejection but I persevered. Meanwhile, I gained all the expertise I needed about the radio industry.”

In 1994 Jones and Dave Hotchkiss, former technical manager at Vuma FM, managed to get a licence for Radio Maritzburg under the Radio Maritzburg Trust.

“On 1 March 1994 we made history. The first community radio in Pietermaritzburg started operating. We trained the likes of Linda Sibiya, the late Mandla Ngcobo and Zanele Mbokazi to name a few. People loved the radio station, it spoke to them directly.”

On August 29, 1995 Jones was involved in a car accident that left him bedridden for five months.

“After my accident things at the radio station went downhill. Staff members were poached by bigger radio stations. Eventually the station had to close down.”

In 2014, Jones’ love for the airwaves propelled him to apply for another licence to open KZN Capital 104 FM. “KZN Capital 104 FM has been operational for three years. For me opening up this station was a continuation of the work I started at Radio Maritzburg.

“Radio is a critical point of communication. I see it as being critical for every city to have its own radio station. Community radio also serves as a stepladder for budding radio hosts.

“When you are in the spotlight you attract both positive and negative statements. Budding radio hosts need to understand that community radio is a stepping stone.

“We are not funded therefore money is insufficient. We give people a platform to grow. Getting paid should not be a priority.”

KZN Capital 104 FM is currently sitting at just above 30 000 listeners and Jones said this number is growing rapidly.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  pmb people

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