For the past five years, the dream of seeing a radio station for Mitchell’s Plain was in the making, and as of 06:00 today, that dream has been realised.
This as YOH Radio has officially taken to the airwaves, bringing a great mix of “all the Cape Flats loves” in a community radio station for Mitchell’s Plain.
The brainchild of radio veteran, Gavin Arends, the station is brought to you in partnership with the Cape Flats YMCA with one goal in mind: uplift the communities of Mitchell’s Plain and the wider Cape Flats, and through facilitated action, improve their overall life experiences.
“I grew up in Mitchell’s Plain so I have a very personal attachment to the area. I am a data analyst by nature and I have done my own research on the radio landscape over the last 20 years. What is standing out is that the closer, smaller and more defined a radio station is, in terms of geographical location, the better they tend to do,” says Arends to People’s Post.
“There are around 1million people – if not more – living in a compact area. That gives you a really good scale to start with. Also it is the second largest township in South Africa and it hasn’t had a radio station since the advent of our democracy which to me did not add up. It was a no brainer to do this for Mitchell’s Plain.” They will be broadcasting on an event permit, as Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) are not issuing full radio licensing at this time. Their current frequency, which could change is 90.7fm. In order to be fully registered, they must have been a registered NPO for the past two years, as they only recently registered, they did not meet the criteria and therefore partnered with the Cape Flats YMCA, says Arends.Ricardo De Reuck, Director of Cape Flats YMCA said in a statement: “We needed a vehicle to reach more young people, and with YOH Radio, we are able to do that. The Cape Flats YMCA exists to empower young people, and what better way to do that, than through a medium like radio.”“Through the partnership, YOH Radio and the Cape Flats YMCA aim to counter the effects of the issues plaguing our communities – such as gender inequality, domestic violence, child abuse, gang violence, HIV/Aids, unemployment, and more. We also want to develop a renewed sense of pride from within these communities and look for ways to encourage all citizens to be active, in some way or another, in uplifting ourselves, and taking our communities forward,” said De Reuck in the statement. The conditions of their current licence is that they must partner with an event, and for this reason, they have decided on a safety focus, with the majority of their content centering around safety issues for the residents of Mitchell’s Plain and surrounds.“This licence allows us to broadcast for 45 days. Coupled with this there is a moratorium on licensing by Icasa,” says Arends. “By us going live now, we are building a track record that will assist us in applying for permanent licensing next year.”“As part of our licence, we have to partner with an event and the event that the YMCA has created is a blanket Mitchell’s Plain Safety
Initiative. The radio station supports this as a marketing arm for anything that is safety related. If you have a beach safety drive, you bring it in as part of the Mitchell’s Plain Safety Initiative and the sation will partner with you and be the mouth piece for the initiative. It is really about promoting and driving safety around Mitchell’s Plain,” says Arends.
According to the statement, both Arends and De Reuck agree, the two organisations have a number of synergies in their shared values and goals, and both are optimistic that this partnership is able to bring tangible, far-reaching value for Mitchell’s Plain communities and the wider Cape Flats.
They will broadcast from the YMCA premises in Portland and already have a wealth of knowledge backing the station. Arendse, a radio veteran has also been in the business for more than 20 years and has left his job at another radio station to dedicate his time fully to YOH Radio.
They will broadcast predominantly in English, with around 27% Afrikaans and 2-3% isiXhosa.
“We went for this split because Radio Zibonele is in close proximity and we did not want the two stations to get in each other’s way. They do cover Mitchell’s Plain in terms of Xhosa broadcasting but we felt we have Xhosa speakers in Mitchell’s Plain and we did not want to exclude it altogether,” says Arends. The format will be split evenly between talk and music.“As part of the safety initiative, around 30% of the station’s talk will focus on safety and then we will also have music. Our music principal is playing all the songs the Western Cape loves, all the Cape Flats familiar favourites,” says Arends.While there will be drive toward safety, there will be the conventional set up with various shows.
“DevDonDidIt will also be part of the breakfast show along with me,” says Arends.
“There is a wealth of knowledge. We did not just want to create another radio station with people saying ‘they tried and failed’. In my view community radio has not taken off as it should of and I am very focused, not only on quality of content, but also on quality of delivery and engagement with our community. What we are trying to do in these 45 days is also to start a new model for community radio.”
The radio frequency will reach beyond the borders of Mitchell’s Plain, says Arends.
“Our defined service area is Mitchell’s Plain but our signal will reach into the Cape Flats. Our positioning statement is ‘everything the Cape Flats loves’. We deliberately said this to reach far into the Cape Flats. The socio-economic conditions and issues that are relevant to Mitchell’s Plain are also relevant to other areas around Mitchell’s Plain. Yes we focus here but a solution that works here, could also work in Delft, Athlone or Belhar. We are defined for Mitchell’s Plain but our reach will be all over the Cape Flats,” he says.
“Yoh”, was chosen as the name of the radio station as it resonates with many in Cape Town as an emotive term, acceptable in many circumstances, says Arends.
“When you see a gorgeous guy at high school, the first thing you say is ‘Yoh! What a hunk’. Similarly, when you see a politician that you don’t agree with, you say ‘Yoh, not again’. It stands for nothing, but it means everything. It is an expression of emotion and it really is every and any emotion and appropriate at anytime,” says Arends. “This is what we hope to do with YOH Radio, connect with our audiences on an emotional level because our people, and especially in Mitchell’s Plain are an emotional people. Hence the name YOH Radio, but the idea is that when someone says the word ‘Yoh’, it will trigger something back to the station.”