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May best radio station win licence for Bulawayo

29 Jun 2014 at 09:12hrs | Views
NEWS of the opening of the airwaves with Bulawayo's public getting a chance to meet and interrogate the three radio stations that are vying for the sole licence to operate a commercial radio station in the city on a date to be advised were long overdue. We hope the postponement of the dates by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe will not be forever.

We are told the station will be able to cover Bulawayo and those in the surrounding 40km radius.

The operative phrase for most of us who have been hungry for an alternative voice to the national stations for years is "quality service." We are hoping that the station that finally gets the licence will definitely bring quality and entertainment back into our homes.

The three short-listed stations offer interesting options. There is Skyz Metro, fronted by Cont Mhlanga and Qhubani Moyo. There is also Skyz FM owned by Trevor Ncube and Skies FM fronted by veteran broadcaster Ezra "Tshisa" Sibanda and bankrolled (we are told) by Minister Obert Mpofu. The near similarity of the station's names tells us of their wishes to be identified with the city. Everyone who has lived in Bulawayo knows the city as Skies/Skyz - the spelling doesn't matter.

More importantly all the people associated with the stations are people we know - people that have pushed the image of Bulawayo in their different fields. We all know what Cont Mhlanga has done for the arts, not only for Bulawayo but Zimbabwe as a whole. The same can be said for Qhubani Moyo - he is a known politician, academic and was one of the founders of Radio Dialogue. Ezra Sibanda needs no introduction in Bulawayo - especially where radio is concerned. Trevor Ncube is one of the success stories from Bulawayo as far as business is concerned. So far so good. Our only minor concern is the absence of Radio Dialogue on that list. We would have loved to see Radio Dialogue on that list and fighting for that sole licence. We say so because for years Radio Dialogue has been the voice of community radio - we know them for advocating for the freeing of airwaves and the setting up of a community radio station in Bulawayo. At one point we really believed that Radio Dialogue was going to be the first institution to get a radio licence in Bulawayo. Sadly, it won't be the case. But their absence does not take away the strengths and merits of the short-listed three. It also does not take away the excitement associated with the finally opening up of airwaves. Not at all!

The coming of community radio stations - commercially motivated or not – must be applauded and celebrated. At last the airwaves have begun to open! These are exciting times for the city and the country. For ordinary "Bulawayans" the hope is that the new radio station ushers to the centre stage local issues. There have been incessant complaints about local issues being side-lined by all national stations. With the new station more local people will get to hear themselves everyday. The issues covered will resonate with them more. The hope is that the station will become our voice. The people's voice. The new station will also come with new employment opportunities for young graduates who have been studying journalism, mass communication, theatre arts and other related programmes.

This development is also more exciting to local artistes and the arts sector in general. More than 50 percent of radio content comes from the arts. Music, drama, poetry, interview and whatever entertainment you can think of. The new station will come with new opportunities for airplay and by extension more visibility. The coming of the new station must be sweet music to artistes from this region. Local artistes have been complaining about marginalisation. This is about to change as the community station is meant to understand these artistes better. So as the airwaves open up all we can say to fellow artistes is making sure you have good content and products ready for "our" station.

As we await the announcement of the new dates for the public hearings, all we can say is may the best station win the licence!

Source - Sunday News
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