Radio Still ALIVE!!!

Transformation is fundamental in all aspects of the media landscape. It is impossible to stay in the same place as you are and not allow any change to happen.

Radio journalism is one of the oldest ways of getting information, quick and easily. ‘Radio Broadcast Journalists identify news stories, they research and present news stories for a wide range of audiences. They are expected to present news bulletins, record interviews, and voice news items or longer features. The only exception is that they can do so from pieces originated from various other sources.’ [Denton, P; n.d]


Survey reports show that half the population turns to radio as it was, still is and will always be a principal source of information in an emergency. When the power goes out and the telephone wires are down, portable radios link us to information we need. As we have load shedding a bunch of times, we need radio now more than ever. When usual communications are cut, radio remains our most reliable means of keeping in touch with the outside world. Like for communities where technology is not so advanced, radio is the best way to get latest music and news, whenever and wherever we go.

In 2015, a debate on Hectic nine 9, about radio being a dying medium, because of social media and technology advancing, and people THINKING radio is not needed anymore, captured my attention. Watch Video Here

images.jpgMany people say that radio has been around so long and has become such a familiar feature on the media landscape that we no longer pay much attention to it. That is why I say if radio would ever die out, people will definitely realize that it is not around, because even if it would die out it will always find a way to come back. If we look at things that is making its way back, from what has been a trend and becoming something again, like fashion trends; as the baggy pants, high cut skirts and the retro hairstyles becoming a must have once again, which was part of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, making its way back to the 21st century, only in a more reformed way.  It is the same with radio broadcasting, when we say that radio will always be part of this world. In the early days it was expected that television would replace radio, but after how many years? Radio is still slow to die. Social media is what is currently flourishing in this world, but radio is working with the transformation of becoming more digitally advanced.


Radio we see is fast, effective, easy to use and news being a key component to radio; radio has the ability to get the essential and breaking news out to the public fast, when it happens and when they need it. Africa Melane once said, in a class lectures that ‘Radio Journalists sometimes forget what an important role they play in informing the public of what is happening in the country and all around the world. He also says that ‘we as radio journalists have the responsibility, to go beyond the basics of what the listener needs to know – our job is to make listeners who do not have the education, understanding or the skills to caption, analyse news and information, as well as the reporting skills you have as a journalist, to understand what they see or listen to.”

downloadNina Callaghan assistant director of an organisation called Children’s Radio Foundation, believes that “Radio builds community, where radios are often the heartbeat of communities across Africa. It reflects the concerns of the day, and speaks to local realities. It is a dialogue starter, and an information hub. Radio paints a picture in your mind; it creates stories and teaches a lot of people about what is happening in the world.” Organisations, like the Children’s Radio Foundation is making radio stronger, by helping in creating a space for especially young reporters to voice their opinions and establishing a platform where communities can interact with their radio station on a more intimate level. This just proves once more that radio broadcasting is acknowledged and people are making sure that it keeps its place in the media landscape.

PRIMEDIA broadcasting CEO Terry Volkwyn noted that radio was upping its game to communicate in different ways with its audience, becoming more interactive and encouraging citizen journalism through online and social networks. “This technological revolution is a game changer for all traditional media, including radio” and another notable trend in 2012-2013 he touched on was radio’s ability to provide a variety of content on different platforms – on air, online and via cell phones – bringing more interactivity with listeners. In addition, there was a growth of podcasts, linked to the more widespread use of the Internet.’ [State of the newsroom, 2013] this is a way of realizing that transformation is already showing.

Even now, people are listening to more radio, when driving to work and coming home from work as well. Community radio is definitely making their mark, with providing information in a variety of languages, more and more people choose to listen to radio, where they would understand things better. Personally speaking, you understand things better when you can relate to something or when you can interact in a personal way. ‘In urban areas, a small percentage turned off from their usual stations, while those tuning into community radio stations rose. It shows that the large community-radio sector has much potential. According to a document in The Healthy Community Radio Station (2013), the stations are considered as critical vehicles for advancing community participation and access to information, particularly among communities that are not acknowledged in mainstream media.’ [State of the newsroom, 2013]

Being a broadcast journalist in modern times are actually harder now, Rich Lodewyk, NDSU broadcast journalism lecturer said “Students need to know how to tell a television story better than any other media journalist, they need to be able to shoot proper video, edit properly and write proper broadcast scripts. Students also need to do everything themselves when it comes to doing video projects, because people want their news now and fast.” [The Bison Times, 2013] So to keep their listeners entertained, and to give the listener what they want, every radio journalist needs to know what they doing.

Another challenge radio journalist for a community radio station, Clement Trussel said, was that “the hardest part is to get the story fast and before everyone else. As well as to be on your toes, keep your eyes and ears open at all times; always striving for what your next story going to be about, but the best part still remains the feedback you get after doing the hard work.”

The question that remains is, does radio have a future in this country?

I agree with the statement that radio journalism is currently flourishing in South Africa. Radio I see as a surviving medium instead of a dying medium. The world of technology has indeed changed, but radio will always have its place. As long as we still have voices, radio will never be a dying medium.

images (1).jpgLynne Arendse, a radio journalist for the SABC agrees 100% with me. She said that without any facts or figures behind her answer, she still strongly believes that radio reaches more people and that radio will always have a place in this country – in the world – simply because it caters for more than one ear. She also adds that “What makes being a radio journalist worth it, knowing that people’s stories are being told; whether it is the story of a mother who lost a child during a shooting in Mitchell’s Plain or two moms from Mannenberg who got their recipes published in a cookbook. A story told on radio has the ability to paint a picture to the person listening. Creativity is important here. In addition to making sound rich stories, you get to describe what you are seeing – in my radio journalism class, my lecturer always told me to tell the story like you are telling it to a blind person, description is key. Radio has so much potential; it reaches further than any other news medium ever could, even if news tends to be more bad than good. I have had the opportunity to interview people from all walks of life because of radio and bring their stories to others. That is what makes radio journalism or even journalism itself worth it.”

What Africa Melane also said was that “Using something that happened, and reporting on it, but contextualising info for the public to understand” made me realize what role we as radio journalists play. Some of us might not always want to be radio journalists; but as soon as it happens, a whole new world opens up, and amazing things happen.





  1. The Bison Times, A look into new media in the industry, Changing but not dying, the future of broadcast journalism; February 6, 2013. Viewed on 1 September 2016
  2. Paul Denton, Broadcast Journalist- Job Profile viewed on 1 September 2016
  3. State of the Newsroom South Africa 2013, Disruptions and Transitions. viewed on 3 September 2016
  4. Class guest lecturers
  5. Radio journalists: Clement Trussel and Lynne Arendse

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