22nd Mar2012

Topics in Media and Cultural Studies Roundtable: 28 March 2012

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The Department of Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand invites you to its third roundtable this semester in the Topics in Media and Cultural Studies series. Please join us Wednesday 28 March 2012 from 2-4pm in the Committee Room, Faculty of Humanities, South-West Engineering Building, Wits East Campus. Full details on the speakers are below.

21st Oct2011

Topics in Media and Cultural Studies Roundtable: 26 October 2011

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The Department of Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand invites you to the last roundtable this academic year in the Topics in Media and Cultural Studies series. Please join us this Wednesday 26 October 2011 between 14.15-16.00 hrs in CB8 (Central Block, Wits East Campus).

The following speakers will give papers:

Last Moyo

Participation, Citizenship and Pirate Radio as Empowerment: The Case of Radio Dialogue in Zimbabwe

Ashleigh Tim

Gaming Ideologies: The Representation of the American/Al-Qaeda and Iraqi Conflict in Army of Two

Enquiries: janeske.botes@wits.ac.za or 011 717 4161

31st Mar2011

The annual radio reshuffling exercise

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The South African radio landscape will be experiencing its annual radio changes or reshufflings in the month of April, starting from tomorrow. It will be interesting to see what changes these radio stations will effect in pursuit of more audience ratings and advertisers. The radio shuffling phenomenon sees radio hosts being fired, hired, shifted within the particular radio station, and new formats or programmes being adopted to achieve the above. It is like a President getting rid of Ministers, deploying some to other departments and hiring new ones, as reflected recently by South African president Jacob Zuma.

Wits University’s very own community radio station Voice of Wits FM (VoW FM 90.5) will not be reshuffling. This is because the station is only less than a year old since it re-launched in 2010. However, the station manager promised to effect changes just after the June examinations. The station currently has over 11,000 listeners in just under a year as compared to its competitor down the road, UJ FM, which stands at 3,000 listeners.

Looking at the public service broadcaster SABC, it remains to be seen how they will maintain their dominance within the South African radio industry. When I asked 5 FM’s drive time host on Twitter if he will retain his spot, he jokingly responded by saying: “5 FM aint broke, so nada to fix”. The morning host Gareth Cliff is doing fairly well in breakfast radio and is both popular and controversial so it will be interesting to see what they have in store for their listeners.

The most interesting radio station to watch closely is Metro FM. The station just recently got rid of its station manager Matona Ntshona who has been doing well since taking office five years ago. He elevated the station to a staggering 5.5 million listeners. Furthermore, reports came out that the station’s veteran breakfast host Kenny Maistry is losing his touch and has suffered a decline in popularity and listenership. To add to this, controversial and yet flamboyant musician, businessman and TV host, Sbusiso Leope, was roped into the station. DJ Sbu, as he is affectionately known, currently hosts a show on Saturdays between 3 and 6 pm. The popular DJ has a colourful history of hosting drive time shows at the peak of his radio career. His appointment to Metro FM was reportedly in order to take over a breakfast show come April 2011.

Popular youth radio station Y FM is another station to watch. This is because over four years ago, the radio station had a listenership of over 4 million. It currently stands at just over 1 million. It will be intriguing to see how they will improve their standard because they have been surrounded by controversy. Y FM expelled two popular DJs who were pulling audience ratings: Mac G and Mpho Maboi. In addition, their drive time host Dineo Ranaka has been mired in controversy in the Sunday tabloids. I am not sure if it was a publicity gimmick, and if it was, I am appalled by the lack of innovation. The current line up needs a serious improvement if the station would like to increase its audience ratings and attract more advertisers. Y FM’s new line up will be revealed on the 4th of April 2011.

Other radio stations, including Ukhozi FM, continue to lead with popularity as it goes home with just over 6 million listeners. Regional station, Khaya FM, has also recently introduced a house music show hosted by popular DJ Black Coffee, hereby slightly breaking away from their market offering of urban contemporary music. We have to see what trick they can pull out of the speakers. Other radio stations do not hold enough substance and interest to be mentioned here.

Lwazi – Mr Skhokho – Mhlongo is a third year student in Media Studies. He can be contacted via skhokhogp@gmail.com

15th Mar2011

Radio, convergence and development in Southern Africa

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A new regional research project in the Department of Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand investigates the way in which the Internet and mobile phones are changing the face of radio in Southern Africa.

Southern African countries are still caught up in a complex web of social, political, and economic challenges. While the independence of South Africa in 1994 symbolised the end of colonialism in the region, the twenty-first century has been largely characterised by the intertwined challenges of development and democratisation. Decolonisation was not an end in itself but a means to developing participatory democracy and development systems that are not only characterised by popular participation, but also stronger notions of citizenship and human rights.

As the most widespread medium in Southern Africa, radio has the potential of galvanising the development and democratisation processes by becoming a participatory platform for citizens, an engine for progressive social change, and a watchdog against the abuse of resources by those in power. Radio in Southern Africa is slowly being transformed in terms of its form, content, distribution, and consumption by new information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as the Internet and mobile phones which have rapidly gained ground in the region in the past decade. New digital opportunities are emerging in the way radio is produced and disseminated, and it is argued that ICTs have offered citizens more opportunities to participate in radio content production.

A new regional research project within the Department of Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand will investigate how public, private, and community radio stations in Southern Africa are using ICTs to promote bottom-up, interactive, and participatory communication. Specific areas of investigation include, among others, how radio stations and audiences use mobile phones in terms of texting, voice calls, mobile radio, online audio streaming, podcasts, blogs and chat forums.

The project researches these issues in four specific case studies in the region: Malawi (Dr Last Moyo), South Africa (Dr Dina Ligaga and Dr Sarah Chiumbu), Zambia (Dr Wendy Willems) and Zimbabwe (Dr Dumisani Moyo and Dr Last Moyo). It is led by Dr Last Moyo and is part of a larger project on radio, convergence and development in Africa coordinated by the Centre for Media and Transitional Societies (CMTS) at Carleton University in Canada and funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Canada.

Some of the research findings will be published in a special journal issue of Telematics and Informatics on ‘Radio and new participatory journalisms around the world: Understanding convergence in news cultures’. The guest editor, Dr Last Moyo, is currently inviting interested scholars to submit abstracts for additional contributions by 30 April 2011. A full call for papers is available for download here.

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