5FM, Good Hope FM’s new business manager Mdingane brings a flair for creativity and engagement to radio

Masixole Mdingane has been appointed the Business Manager for SABC’s radio stations, 5FM and GoodHope FM. Photo: Supplied

Masixole Mdingane has been appointed the Business Manager for SABC’s radio stations, 5FM and GoodHope FM. Photo: Supplied

Published May 29, 2024


Masixole Mdingane recently was appointed as Business Manager of SABC’s 5FM and Good Hope FM in the PC Combo.

SABC calls these units the PCS Combo aimed at the youthful, chic, hip and upwardly mobile 16–34 target market. The reach of this audience is roughly 8 152 000, with 21.9% listeners.

Mdingane takes the reins at a time the SABC is trying to turn its ship around after posting a massive R1.13 billion loss for the 2022/23 Annual Report period.


Larkin: Hi, Mdingane, congratulations on your new appointment. Are you excited by this opportunity?

Mdingane: I am extremely excited and truly honoured to join the PC Combo, which is made up by 5FM, which is a national youth station, and Good Hope FM, a Western Cape-based commercial radio station. When I joined the SABC, I started at 5FM in 2012. So it’s come full circle, coming back home, but now with an additional station, Good Hope FM.

Larkin: Are there any business principles you hold dear or front of mind as a manager?

Mdingane: The principles that come to mind are: a more customer-centric approach into how we conduct business, trust and integrity, with all the engagements that you have, and also to strive for excellence in all aspects of the business.

Larkin: How would you describe your leadership style?

Mdingane: Transformative and consultative. As a leader you also need to consult and take other people’s opinions into consideration. And working in a creative space also requires one to create an environment that is receptive to creativity and input from the rest of the team. So the consultative effort is quite crucial. And I think that’s always been my approach.

Larkin: Is it challenging taking on the role as we head to elections?

Mdingane: For us it is not as hectic as talk stations. It is challenging as we are music stations, but we can’t ignore what is happening all around the country with these highly contested elections. We have to find creative ways to bring in those election conversations that are happening.

Obviously we will also have your first-time voters in our audience. You will also have the youth group, which is most of the time seen as not interested in voting. So we have to find creative ways to incorporate these conversations around what these elections mean and bring to our audiences.

For instance, we are going to increase our number of bulletins for the duration of the elections from election day to up until the elections running from 5am to 10pm. That gives us a little bit more time to keep our audiences up to date with what is happening.

From a Cape Town perspective, we’ll have some of our team members go to the different voting stations. No one knows what will happen after the elections. There might be changes of government, there might be coalitions, there might be all sorts of things, so we just need to keep that conversation going.

Larkin: What type of music do you play on election day?

Mdingane: We’ve got what we call a symmetrical approach to programming. This is 30 years of democracy. So you look into everything that has happened in the past 30 years… all those types of things that come to mind that cater to cultural and social cohesion.

For instance, and some of the key milestones from just before we attained democracy: changing South Africa’s national anthem; changing our flag; adopting a Constitution for the country; and from a sports perspective also key milestones, such as the World Cup and so on. What are people feeling on a particular day? What could certain songs mean for people as we celebrate democracy?

Larkin: Can we expect any new innovations under your leadership?

Mdingane: We want to bring in more creativity to the station and creative activations.

Larkin: Recently, the unemployment figures showed a growth in youth unemployment, 5FM’s audience. How does that factor into your stations’ strategy?

Mdingane: It requires us to find creative ways to, for example, say, How do you find a side hustle? From a skills perspective, which skills are in demand? How can you better yourself as a young person moving forward and also keep it positive in the midst of all these challenging times and negative periods that you’re going through?

Let’s say, at its media exams, what’s that one thing that’s going to give you the energy to even study further? I think it’s listening to stations, like 5FM and Good Hope FM, that will give you that positivity and an energy to soldier on and move forward.

I think psychologically music is absolutely essential and it’s very important in a country like South Africa, with immense socio-economic challenges.

Mdingane biography:

Mdingane is a broadcast enthusiast with 20 years’ experience in the broadcast industry.

In the interview with Business Report, Mdingane said: “I was a student in my first year of studying when I tried campus radio and community radio. I learnt on the job. In those three to five years I learnt a lot about the industry what it was that I actually wanted to do. I started off as a presenter, and then years later, I realised I was a more behind-the-scenes kind of person.”

– Before the current appointment he was the Programmes Manager at Umhlobo Wenene FM.

– In 2012, he joined 5FM as a Music Compiler.

– In 2015, he was appointed as a Programmes Manager at trufm, a youth radio station. During his tenure, the station received 22 nominations and won nine awards.

– In 2018, he was seconded to act as Station Manager.

– In 2018, he was listed in The Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans under the Film and Media category.

– In 2021, he was appointed as the Programme Manager for Umhlobo Wenene FM.

– Business Manager of SABC’s 5FM and Good Hope FM in the PC Combo.

Mdingane's description of a business manager: A business primarily provides the strategic direction for the station and that it is managed in a cost-effective manner. To also make sure that the station is compliant with its licence conditions.

Under you one has one’s programme manager and marketing manager. Both have a team of people such as presenters, producers, social media, contributors and so on.

We have to make sure that the station makes money in consultation with the sales team. We have to also make sure that the stations are reaching their targets: growing listenership figures.