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Radio station hits the sweet spot

A community radio station in Tzaneen, in the northeastern province of Limpopo, has become the pride of the town. It not only addresses their needs, but provides employment to local youth as well. The Greater Tzaneen Radio Station, or GTFM 104.8 FM, broadcasts from the Cascades Building on the periphery of the central business district of Greater Tzaneen Municipality.

30 November 2011

GTFM station manager Tebatso MaapolaGTFM station manager Tebatso Maapola

GTFM was awarded a five-year broadcasting licence in February 2011 by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) after the idea was mooted by the chief executive of the Greater Tzaneen Economic Development Agency (Gteda), Kwena Maphoto.

The agency was established with help from the Industrial Development Corporation to drive local economic development in the area. Among other things, its mandate is to develop business skills, attract investment and create sustainable employment in Greater Tzaneen Municipality.

Funding to start up the station came from several sources: the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) contributed R2-million and the Limpopo Premier's Office chipped in with R50 000. "The radio station is development-oriented, looking at addressing issues of community concern and issues of economic development in Greater Tzaneen Municipality and Mopani District at large," explains Maphoto.

Since start up, it has created 26 jobs, a key achievement for such a young radio station, according to Maphoto. "The station broadcasts in English, Afrikaans, Sepedi and Tsonga. Because of a large migrant population from Zimbabwe in the area, we are planning on introducing Shona in the near future."

The station broadcasts 18 hours a day, seven days a week and its programmes include talk, educational, informative and entertainment shows. "Our news coverage includes local and international news, with music taking a smaller chuck of programming."

According to station manager Tebatso Maapola, the station covers a 50km radius and broadcasts to an audience of about 27 000 listeners a week. However, there are plans to transfer the radio transmitter, at the moment positioned in the Cascades Building, to much higher ground. "This will give us a greater transmission radius [and] we will be able to reach between 80 000 and 100 000 people."

The station was received with wonderful appreciation by residents of Tzaneen and beyond, and participation in programming is encouraging, he adds. "We are looking forward to becoming one of the best radio stations as soon as the brand becomes popular within Mopani District."

The station covers Greater Tzaneen, Greater Letaba, Giyani, Maruleng, and Ba-Phalaborwa municipalities. Its target audience is youth between the ages of 10 and 35 years. "But older people are also catered for in our programmes," says Maphoto.

And its future looks bright too, despite the young station battling "talent poaching" by commercial radio station in the region, he explains.


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