Rural community radio opens to fanfare and hope
Engcobo FM to serve Chris Hani district
The community of Ngcobo in the Chris Hani district of Eastern Cape finally has its own radio station that serves as an information platform and adds value to residents’ lives.
Engcobo FM 96.6 MHz recently received state-of-the-art broadcast studios from the minister in the presidency, Mondli Gungubele. The studios were sponsored by the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA).
Speaking at the launch, Gungubele said the residents of Ngcobo would now be able to consume news from their own locality, in the language of their choice and about people they know.
“If people believe in their communities, they are able to work together, develop themselves and be prosperous. To do all of this, they need information and Engcobo FM is the source that can release this positive energy needed to lift Ngcobo to greater heights,” said Gungubele.
Station manager Lusindiso Tantsi said the radio station will not only benefit Ngcobo, but exists to link all the Chris Hani district communities.
“This radio station was started by a community group in 2017, but could not take it any further [due to various challenges]. They then approached me to assist them with getting a licence from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa and to set the business up, and I was happy to be involved.”
After numerous delays, the station went on air officially in July. It broadcasts 95% in Xhosa and 5% in English.
Because the station is still new, Tantsi says the Broadcast Research Council of SA, which does research into radio stations’ listenership, has not yet included it in the radio audience measurement survey.
However, the Engcobo FM caters for listeners of all ages and has already gained more than 8,000 followers on Facebook.
“We have 18 employees at the station so far. Our radio station is run professionally and will ensure that our clients from the private sector and government receive the best service,” Tantsi promised.
The MDDA also unveiled new studios at the Barberton Community Radio 104.1 in Mpumalanga, Aganang FM 90.0 in Potchefstroom in the North West, and Kasie FM 97.1 in Katlehong in Gauteng.