RA­DIO’S FUTURE IS ONLINE

By tar­get­ing taxi com­muters, DJ Sbu hopes his ini­tia­tive will add di­ver­sity to the dig­i­tal ra­dio space by at­tract­ing new lis­ten­ers

CityPress - - Front Page - NTOMBIZODWA MAKHOBA ntombizodwa@city­press.co.za

DJ Sbu has joined his coun­ter­parts, Thabo “Tbo Touch” Molefe and Gareth Cliff, who are pioneering the future of online ra­dio with their long-es­tab­lished com­mer­cial coun­ter­parts.

The two, whose real names are Sibu­siso Leope and Thabo Molefe, re­spec­tively, used to work for Metro FM and are now tar­get­ing dif­fer­ent lis­ten­ers. Leope is woo­ing the work­ing class with his online brand Mas­sivMetro, while Molefe is go­ing for mid­dle class ur­ban­ites with his dig­i­tal sta­tion, Touch HD.

Mas­sivMetro, which goes live on Easter Mon­day, has been a three-year project – from even be­fore Metro FM fired Leope in Oc­to­ber 2015 for shame­lessly pro­mot­ing his en­ergy drink at the sta­tion’s mu­sic awards that year.

“I had to get out of my com­fort zone, so I cre­ated the DJ Sbu break­fast show. I pitched it to Times Me­dia Group and they un­der­stood my vi­sion. That is how it all be­gan,” he said.

Mas­sivMetro is co-owned by Leope’s com­pany, Lead­er­ship2020, and Mas­siv Me­dia.

Leope left this week for the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy in Bos­ton, US, where he was in­vited to speak about how tech­nol­ogy is ad­vanc­ing life in Africa.

Leope said his break­fast show was a syn­di­cated prod­uct which would be broad­cast on three online sta­tions – Mas­sivMetro, Rise FM and Vuma FM – as well as on Bloem­fontein com­mu­nity ra­dio sta­tion Cut FM by month-end.

Cur­rently, his Rise FM show has just short of 500 000 lis­ten­ers, but Leope is con­fi­dent that this num­ber will in­crease be­cause “in June we will also be syn­di­cat­ing to nine other com­mu­nity ra­dio sta­tions”.

Leope, who has also worked on Ukhozi FM and YFM, says Mas­sivMetro’s af­ter­noon drive show, The Five Hour Drive, will be hosted by Bonginkosi “Zola 7” Dlamini, ac­tress Thembi Seete and come­di­enne Ce­leste Ntuli. These, he says, are the only main­stream dee­jays em­ployed at Mas­sivMetro be­cause he does not have a big budget for big names. “I be­lieve in young, new tal­ent. I re­cruited peo­ple who would res­onate with or­di­nary South Africans,” he said. What dif­fer­en­ti­ates Leope’s online ini­tia­tive from other dig­i­tal ra­dio play­ers such as Cliff Cen­tral, owned by Gareth Cliff, and Touch HD is that his is an ur­ban met­ro­pol­i­tan ra­dio sta­tion tar­get­ing town­ship res­i­dents. “My ra­dio sta­tion is unique. I am giv­ing free Wi-Fi to taxis at all the Gaut­eng taxi ranks. We are cur­rently in­stalling routers in taxis. “We have started with 1 000 taxis. In the next six months, we are hop­ing to have in­stalled routers in at least 3 000 taxis around Gaut­eng.” He added that com­muters would get free in­ter­net and be able to down­load the Mas­sivMetro app while on the taxi. And since one taxi takes 14 pas­sen­gers, 1 000 taxis can score him at least 14 000 lis­ten­ers a day. Leope says his app has 20 000 sub­scribers.

“What is beau­ti­ful is that Tbo Touch, Gareth and I are prov­ing it can be done. We are not com­pet­ing but tar­get­ing dif­fer­ent au­di­ences. We all have dif­fer­ent tar­get mar­kets,” said Leope.

“The online space is go­ing to keep grow­ing ev­ery year. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how far our ra­dio sta­tions will be in five years’ time. I guar­an­tee you, they will have more than tripled their lis­ten­er­ship.”

Leope said his sta­tion was a com­bi­na­tion of Ukhozi FM and Metro FM. “We play maskandi, mbaqanga and gospel mu­sic. The sta­tion is di­verse; there is a bit of ev­ery­thing.

“At my age I do not start com­pa­nies to fail. That’s why I start small, not big. I have a three-year plan. I have spread the small budget over the next three years, and we as a sta­tion are giv­ing our­selves three years for this to work.”

PHOTO: JAB­U­LANI LANGA

DJ Sbu is tar­get­ing taxi com­muters

Bonginkosi Dlamini

Ce­leste Ntuli

Thembi Seete

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