Radio station YFM has raised the chance of getting a national licence and with that a huge increase in listenership with currently just over 1.3m listeners a week.
There are about 15.4 million radio sets in South Africa, with more than 30m listeners tuning in to a variety of programming from hip urban music to community news and information in the deepest of rural areas.
The South African youth contribute to more than a third of this percentage, with the three leading radio stations in Gauteng all competing for listenership, thereby resulting in rivalry for the youth radio market.
These three stations are SABC’s Metro FM (previously known as Radio Metro) which started broadcasting in October 1986, just six months from the planning stages and then competing with now- defunct Radio Bop. The station has done well for itself while also launching many prominent South African radio personas including Bob Mabena.
5FM (formerly known as Radio 5), was developed from a commercial station, LM Radio, which at the time operated from Maputo, Mozambique. Radio 5 first went on the air on October 13, 1975 after Mozambique gained its independence. The station, which was rebranded 5FM in 1992, caters for the pop music audience and the name also indicated the SABC’s fifth radio station.
In 1997, eight commercial radio licences were granted for broadcasting in three major cities – Durban, Joburg and Cape Town. One of these licences went out to Gauteng’s leading “youth” radio station, YFM (99.2FM) based in Joburg. The station, primarily created for the black youth, owes its achievements to the success of kwaito in the late 1990s. YFM plays mostly urban music genres with a minority of its airtime dedicated to talk shows. As Oskido once said: “YFM made the artists – the artists, in turn, made them”.
Metro and 5FM broadcast throughout South Africa’s metro-politan cities and have an average listenership of 6.5 million a week combined, with the majority belonging to Metro.