Phalaphala fm celebrating 52 years in broadcasting
Phalaphala FM Turns 52 in February
Jim Rohn aptly puts it that if one is not willing to risk the unusual; one will have to settle for the ordinary. This rings true for Phalaphala FM, which, amid persistent competition from traditional and non platforms, had to grapple with the notion of trying something new or settling for the ordinary, thereby risking being left behind and remaining irrelevant.
As the Station turns 52 this February, one cannot help but look back with nostalgia the road travelled, amid turbulences, victories, challenges and celebrations. At this age, the Station should be considered to be in its maturity stages and should be in a position to reap without apology and not complain when things don’t go well. With over a Million potential audiences, the Station will always strive to a strike a balance amongst its diverse audience, young and old, particularly because there has been a paradigm shift in terms of how audiences access information. It has been indeed a long walk for the erstwhile Radio Bantu, which has seen it transform into a reputable Radio Station carrying out the Public Broadcaster’s mandate of steadfastly inspiring the Nation.
The Station has, over the years, managed to build an emotional bond with its listeners as demonstrated by their continuous support of “Phalaphala FM to the Rescue” projects such as “Shoe Donation, Build a House, Sanitary Towels donations, and any other CSI project which seeks to address poverty alleviation or respond to those who are in dire straits. This has been achieved by ensuring that our listeners are part of the Station by encouraging them to send continuous comments, feedback on how they believe we can do things better, qualitative research and conducting Public Feedback sessions quarterly. Phalaphala FM has been able to donate schools shoes and sanitary towels to needy learners across Limpopo and Gauteng, and has committed to continuously assist in an effort to restore dignity and build confidence. Although the station could not deliver on its signature projects such as Traditional Dance Competitions and Tshivenda Music Awards due to budget constraints and lack of sponsorships, there has been commitment from stakeholders on ensuring that these two properties are supported moving forward.
Since the birth of the Station 52 years ago, Phalaphala FM has changed its corporate identity three times, changing from “Tshititshi tsha Khwine” to “Hu bvuma Yone Fhedzi” and now recently, in 2016, to “Ri na ‘nwi Misi Yothe.” The corporate identity change was compromised by the relocation project and the rollout of the new CI has not been aggressive enough due to budgetary constraints; nevertheless, most audiences have warmed up to the new corporate identity and the station will endeavor to ensure that it eventually is top of the mind in the market. Phalaphala FM continues to work on the relocation project, pending the reconfiguration of the offices once Water Affairs Department has moved out by end of March 2017, however, due to the haste with which the new studios were put up, seamless broadcast has been compromised, however, the team is working hard to restore the situation to a level of professionalism suitable for a mature broadcaster that Phalaphala FM strived to be over the years.
They say dynamites come in small packages, and Phalaphala FM has demonstrated that this notion is not a fallacy by achieving what critics may view as a farfetched dream for a Station which struggled to reach a million listeners since it hit the airwaves way back in 1965. The Station achieved the milestone by amassing 1, 02 million listeners for the first time in 2010, this despite the fact that the target population was said to be 1, 2 million! The Station is also on its 24th year of organizing the annual overseas tour for its listeners, which was and is still, meant to demonstrate the audience’s financial muscle to the advertisers, needless to say that others learnt from the best, no wonder the market is now saturated with organizers of similar tours! Phalaphala FM has visited Zimbabwe, Egypt, Mauritius, France, Argentina, Dubai, India, China, Turkey, Brazil, just to mention but a few; and by popular demand, this year the listeners will be off to Israel. The Station enjoys competition, and needless to say, prides itself on the fact that in all its overseas tours, no listener has been left behind, what listeners are promised is exactly what they get and the experience of the tour is just out of this world!
The Station also boosts young and vibrant personnel who relate well to the listeners and are continuously reminded of practicing emotional intelligence to ensure that the bond between the Station and its audience grows stronger. That is why the Station is able to move with times through interaction with listeners through social media. As for the 52nd birthday, Phalaphala FM will celebrate this milestone by first visiting King Tony Mphephu Ramabulana and thereafter visit Vho Thovhele on a month to month basis. The Station will also partner with Municipalities that are continuously committing to support this milestone. Despite budgetary constraints, Phalaphala FM will do everything thing that it continues to touch lives, visit communities, assist wherever possible in order to demonstrate that “Ri na ‘nwi misi yothe”!