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Herculean task for new radio Skyz FM

16 Sep 2016 at 10:14hrs | Views
BULAWAYO's new radio station Skyz FM is now live. But the station faces more than just the burden of looking for advertisers and revenue to sustain its operations.

After nearly 18-months of waiting, anxiety among the people of Matabeleland is likely to have succumbed to natural death, but this week, the station's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Qhubani Moyo torched a new era of excitement amongst the radio's prospective followers when he announced that the station was now live and ready to broadcast.

"Bulawayo's radio station is finally on air. History has been made," Moyo announced Sunday, in a Facebook post which was showered with congratulatory messages by the station's well-wishers.

Although the radio took longer than expected to go on air, to the constituency of Matabeleland - which often feels disenfranchised by the State-run media, the station's final leap into the air is a dream come true.

But to the station the expectation by the Matabeleland populace might be too huge to handle – or at least satisfy without towing the station's editorial policy.

"There has been media before radio and the has been media after radio, especially the novel internet platforms; but radio still remains the most important medium in terms of accessibility. It therefore becomes important that people from this region use the platform provided by Skyz FM to ensure that their agenda becomes part of the national agenda," Khanyile Mlotshwa, a journalist-cum-media scholar reasoned.  

Besides the State-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation whose signal hardly reaches rural areas, the Matabeleland region has never tasted any independent radio station which carries its communities' aspirations. It is against this milieu that Skyz FM is seen as the ultimate response to this longtime need.

"They (people from the region) can push their desired agendas through the phone ins, suggesting programmes and programme content, and even staying in touch with content producers and pointing them to possible sources of new content," Mlotshwa asserted.

Although Moyo the station's CEO has quashed malicious rumors that the station was awarded the broadcasting license to prop up the agenda of the ruling elite,

the content of the station will be the litmus paper to disapprove the speculation.

"I am not sure of the corporate or class interests of Skyz FM," Benny Moyo a pro-devolution activist claimed.

"My skepticism emanates from the fact that as a people the station will genuinely reflect our views or that of the funders. I am not not sure whether it will address issues of our being victims of, for instance the Gukurahundi genocide. Until that happens our celebration should be muted or premature."

But Mlotshwa differed. "Participation is key to radical politics and people should participate which ever way. That is fundamental. And the powers that be, will pay attention. Bulawayo and Matabeleland have a history of confounding and problematizing the system but this radio station provides an opportunity," he argued.

The station which broadcasts in the previously marginalized Kalanga and Suthu languages in addition to Ndebele, Shona and English, has since been unequivocal in its pre-broadcasting teasers and jingles that it stands for the "needs and aspirations of the Bulawayo community" yet this might be taken as a gimmick until the station proves sceptics with content which is in sync with its conceptual identity.

"It (Skyz FM) is a welcome initiative since it will give a voice to the downtrodden, Dumisani Nkomo, a local pro-democracy civil society leader said. His notion was supported by rights activist Mbuso Fuzwayo who asserted that the radio is a good initiative because "we now have an independent voice outside government."

While every media house has its own editorial thrust, will Skyz FM bow down to its over-expecting constituency?

Moyo, the station's boss who has been on cloud nine since the radio went on air had this to say:

"The issue of expecting is not a linear thinking. It entails expectations in terms of the promotion of language and culture of the region and the promotion of local artistes amongst many other  issues," Moyo explained.

"We respect the diversity of the region hence we will make Skyz FM a platform for divergent views. Whatever the political thinking, the radio shall be a platform for the cross-pollination of ideas that are oriented to the development of the region regardless of political jackets that people may wear," Moyo said emphatically though sounding diplomatic about the subject.

Source - Divine Dube
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