Alternative voices are important

This article was first published on www.journalism.co.za

Hand made radio's were presented at the entrance to the conference to show. Photo: Prelene Singh

Hand made radio’s were presented at the entrance to the conference to show. Photo: Prelene Singh

The vital role of an alternative voice in radio broadcasting was bought to the surface of debates on the second day of the Radio Days Conference, at Wits University.

The need for community radio stations and the need for alternative voices in South Africa was stressed today by various speakers at the conference.

Licensing in Zimbabwe is a significant issue and not easily attainable especially for private stations. Media freedom activist Rashweat Mukundu, said broadcasters and media activists need to campaign for media transparency and democratic processes. An audience member from the forum commented that Zimbabwe is 20 years too late in terms of media reform. Mukundu said: “There is a positive development with Zfm and Star fm, which opened up spaces for voices which are not used in radio.”

VoW fm broadcasted live from the conference on all three days during lunch. Samkele Kaase a presenter for Vow fm seen in the picture hostings his lunchtime slot. Photo: Prelene Singh

VoW fm broadcasted live from the conference on all three days during lunch. Samkele Kaase a presenter for Vow fm seen in the picture hostings his lunchtime slot. Photo: Prelene Singh

Radio shapes a society and plays a key role in relaying information to the public. Jacques Kokonyange, station manager for Radio Muugano in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) tried to shine some light on how important radio broadcasting is in war zones.

Kokonyange explained that radio in the DRC operates in security zones, but yet 500 people were still kidnapped, showing the lack of safety in the country. Radio Muugano provides a platform for police and other authorities for informative reasons. “The government has no choice than to let us broadcast because it is a voice which is needed in the country in active war,” said Kokonyange.

Along with this Kokonyange said that they rarely broadcast live and information relayed on air has to be linked up to credible sources in order to dodge threats from rebels.

It was clear that radio works best in an environment of diversity. Station manager of the newly launched Power fm, Ferdinand Mabalane explained that the radio station is not for the black population but for South African’s who are concerned with where the country is going. This choice of topical broadcasting can be attributed to the success of Power fm thus far.

Xoli Matomela the host of the Law Focus show at VoW fm. Photo: Prelene Singh

Xoli Matomela the host of the Law Focus show at VoW fm. Photo: Prelene Singh

The day ended off with ‘law focus’ which is a weekly show hosted by Xoli Matomela and Paul McNally at the Wits Radio Academy. Field reporters at the academy are sent out to bring in stories which deal with the law, and issues that are rarely dealt with on any other radio platform. Matomela played a sound package for the forum about female miners and how they are treated as sex workers rather than mine workers.

The conference proved that for a country to be fully democratic and push progression and movement there has to be alternative voices within the radio landscape.

The conference comes to an end tomorrow. Visit the website for more information or follow @jhbradiodays on twitter.

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