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Dear Radio: The return of the annual South African radio awards

by Paulo Dias (@therealptp) After a brief hiatus, the annual South African radio awards made a much-welcome return this year, this time as the Liberty Radio Awards — an encouraging commitment from a major brand to the medium of radio.

Over the years, the awards have encouraged radio excellence across all disciplines from on-air to behind-the-scenes and have recognised equally the contributions of commercial, campus, community and PBS to the rich framework of local radio.

Mean more than let on

Only once you strip out the sometimes outwardly cynical and blasé reaction of the commercial stations — although, inwardly, the awards mean more to them than they let on — do you truly get to the essence of what such a large-scale awards show and initiative is about.

Working predominantly with commercial stations as I do, you tend to get wrapped up in their world of numbers, sales targets to hit, and listeners to attract and maintain. Doing both can be a very formulaic and scientific affair. Regurgitating proven methods to keep you those few decimal points ahead of the competition.

On nights such as Saturday, 22 April 2017, when sitting in a room surrounded by the good and great, the known and unknown of radio, you get to appreciate what this medium is about and I was personally reinvigorated by a few things that I saw.

Attract the best talent

There’s often a question of hunger and talent drain in the radio game, as sexier media attract the best talent; radio may sometimes be regarded as the poor cousin, with the top talent giving radio a wide berth and those sitting in stations simply serving time until they’re summoned to the dot-coms and insta-whatsits of their dreams. Thoughts like those are blown out the water when you see what winning an award means for recipients from the community and campus stations.

These people are hungry, literally and figuratively (one imagines), to carve their way in a medium that their contribution ensures stays in safe hands. Whether it’s the slick and polished, veteran-filled Hot 919 blowing up all around Fourways or the upstart MFM rocking the University of Stellenbosch, hungry, talented, radio-loving people are thriving when given their chance behind the mic.

With so much talent in the lower leagues, it’s disappointing that the big commercials don’t take a chance as often as they should on the young blood. Young blood who, if they have a career half as good as John Robbie’s — recipient of the Lifetime Achiever Award — will count themselves blessed.

Truly gifted

No matter how many times I’ve been privileged to hear Robbie talk in public and off-mic, I still hang on to every word he says — the sign of a truly gifted and legendary broadcaster.

So, sitting in the middle of this generation, those with it all to prove and those who have forgotten more than some will ever learn, are our current radio landscape and decision-makers, and I hope they left the Sandton Convention Centre that evening with the same feeling I had: up your game because there are young guns out there and they’re after your microphone.

The Liberty Radio Awards of 2017 should set an interesting marker, as the winners and nominees were drawn from a very different landscape to what they will face in 2018, with every major player shaking up their formats, lineups and audiences.

Well done to all of you; let’s see you raise the game next year.

All the winners




Campus (& community)


2017 My Station Award (Most Loyal Listeners) MIX 93.8 FM
2017 My Station Award (Most Votes) Radio 2000
Afternoon drive presenter Martin Bester, Jacaranda FM Dumisa “DJ Shabbisto” Mavuso – Ligwalagwala FM DJ Keyez, Vow FM Simon Parkinson, Hot 91.9
Afternoon drive show POWER Drive, Power FM Tru Afternoon, Tru FM The Lift Club, Vow FM Your World Today, Radio Islam
Breakfast presenter Ryan O’Connor, KFM Nkgadimeng Kekana, Thobela FM Duane van Wyk, Tuks FM Darren Scott, Hot 91.9 FM
Breakfast show The Complimentary Breakfast, Jacaranda FM Vuka Mzansi Breakfast Show, Ukhozi FM MFM Campus Breakfast Show, MFM 92.6 Joburgs Hottest Breakfast Show, Hot 91.9 FM
Business & finance show Money Show, 702 and Cape Talk
Community project 947 gets Baby Caylum to Boston , 947 Ex-Convicts Empowerment, Thobela FM A House In 67 Minutes In Honour of Madiba, Hot 91.9 FM
Content producer POWER Update, Neo Leeuw, Power FM Mpumelelo Mali, Umhlobo Wenene FM John Walland, Hot 91.9 FM
Daytime show Power Talk, Power FM SJL (Sijik’ ilanga), Umhlobo Wenene FM PUKfm International Top 40, PUKfm 93.6 Corruption Busters, 101.9 ChaiFM
Drama programme Bloedlyn, RSG
Field news reporter Tunicia Phillips, KayaFM95.9
Lifetime achiever of 2017 John Robbie
Multi channel promotion Launching the Algoa FM App , Algoa FM
Music show The Coca-Cola Top40SA, KFM and 947 Ikwayala Eziphambili, Umhlobo Wenene FM RooiwynSondag, PUKfm 93.6 The Best Music In The World Ever, Hot 91.9 FM
News & actuality show Power Update, Power FM Walk the Talk with Alan Khan, Lotus FM Izwe Nezalo, Inanda 88.4 FM
News reader Tara Penny , EWN Nomsa Mdhluli, SA FM Katleho Sekhotho, Vow FM Gladys Sithole , Hot 91.9 FM
Nighttime show House Party with Jazzy D, Jacaranda FM Talk on 2000, Radio 2000 Alt La Femme, Tuks FM Rev It Up, Radio Islam
Promotion stunt/event Launching the Algoa FM App, Algoa FM *AND* Huawei KDay Bus, KFM Vuka Mzansi Breakfast Show, Ukhozi FM #SKOOLMETDIEBESTEGEES, GROOTfm 90.5
Radio documentary Through The Cracks, The Untold Story of Mbuyisa Makhubu, EWN
Radio innovation The East Coast Radio Fugitive, East Coast Radio
Sports presenter Sandile van Heerden –  Kaya FM
Sports show POWER SportExtra, Power FM Disappointment for Blitzboks in Rio, SABC/SAfm Joburg PM with David O’Sullivan, Hot 91.9 FM
Station imaging Power FM Umhlobo Wenene FM Hot 919
Station of the year KAYA FM Umhlobo Wenene FM MFM 92.6 HOT 91.9 FM
Traffic presenter Ms Cosmo, 5FM
Weekend radio show The Coca-Cola Top40SA, KFM and 947 Ibuzwa Kwabaphambili, Umhlobo Wenene FM RooiwynSondag, PUKfm 93.6 Raise Your Voice, Emalahleni FM
Bright stars Charonike Nel, Puk FM; Herman Human, East Rand Stereo; Katlego Mahlangu, Vow FM; Keneilwe Mohapi, Capricorn FM; Lwazi Mpofu, TruFM; Mbalenhle Shandu, Nqubeko FM; Nonjabulo “Njabs” Zwane, Gagasi FM; Sthabiso Nyaba, Inanda FM
Hall of fame Fakir Hassen; Jeremy Maggs; Lynn Joffe; Rev Nomathamsanqa Rweqana; Tony Sanderson; Zola Yeye

Paulo Dias (@therealptp) is the head of creative integration at Ultimate Media. He works closely with the programming teams at leading radio stations to help implement commercial messaging into their existing formats. He contributes the regular column, “Dear Radio”, looking at the changing radio landscape in South Africa, to

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Dear Radio: The return of the annual South African radio awards


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