YOU FM enters SA radio landscape, hopes to break even in five years
You FM took over the broadcasting licence from North West FM, which had run into financial woes and was on occasion off-air as a result.
Tebogo Pooe, chairman of black-owned Motswako Media Group (MMG), the new owners of the radio station, said MMG had invested extensive financial resources to fund research, reorganisation, and rebrand the station as You FM for the discerning urban listener.
Pooe, who is chief executive and head of the radio station, owing to his well over two decades of experience in media and radio broadcasting, said You FM will be listener-led to create a strong radio brand.
He said the core target market of the radio station was the age band 24-44 years.
The station’s non-core market is the 19-24 age band, “a market brought up by our core target market”.
You FM, said Pooe, was focused mainly on the urban and well-educated middle-class, broadcast “70% in English” yet also in all other official languages of the nation.
Pooe said research by MMG indicated that the North West was not 100% but 58% majority Tswana-speaking.
He said it showed that since the advent of democracy, the previously rustic North West has evolved into a more cosmopolitan living space.
“The North West is home to a melting pot of people from within the country and from all over the African continent. We must satisfy their needs and demands. It’s all there in our tag line ‘In Tune With You’ that we are You FM because the station is about you,” said Pooe.
Pooe said he was not worried social media would render MMG’s investment in You FM futile.
“I don’t see radio being threatened by new media. We have a fair sense of radio analytics. Radio has a future,” said Pooe.
You FM, Pooe said, will break even in “about three to five years”. The current source of revenue for the station is advertising, he said. The programming at the 24-hour commercial radio station is music, talk and news and broadcasts on 89.9 You FM, and is focused, said Pooe, on a “predominantly black” audience in the North West and other parts of SA.
He said listeners in the West Rand and Pretoria in Gauteng, Lephalale in Limpopo and Kimberley in the Northern Cape have said the station reaches them.
“We have a newsroom that reports news every hour from 5am to 10pm. Most newsrooms close at 6pm. Though we are not profitable because we just started this month, we are going to change radio again. We consider ourselves at You FM as a rebel with a cause,” said Pooe.
Pooe was one of the lodestars of community radio in the late 1990s who engineered the merger of BUA Community Radio and Soweto Community Radio into Jozi FM, a leading community radio station in the country. At You FM, he said MMG plans to repeat the success at Soweto-based Jozi FM, hence, his positioning at the helm of You FM.
“I have insisted that we build organic value for the long-term sustainability of the radio station,” said Pooe.
“I want to be the Jomo Sono of radio,” said Pooe.
By this he said he meant he wants to be known for searching out in obscure townships and distant countryside communities, the talent which he will then groom into national and international gems, as Jomo Sono has done with soccer talent.
Pooe said, “What really matters is to build a value system you share. Once people are willing to protect and build that value, then you’ve created wealth, if you invest in people.” He said female empowerment will be the pivot of success at the radio station.
“Our head of programming is a woman,” he said.
Bonolo “Bee Sting” Molosiwa, a female on-air presenter at You FM, and whose shows feature music (R&B, soul and jazz) as well as human interest content on personal finance, mothering, agriculture and tourism, said most of the shows at the station have “You” in their title, because the station is about the listener.
She said, “Radio is not about you as the presenter, but about the listener, you.”
Molosiwa said, “Radio should let people talk about issues.”
At You FM she said they aim to do what others are not doing.
“I am a rebel, of course,” said Molosiwa.