Community radio stations get R10m for digital transformation

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 11 Feb 2021
Phil Molefe, Fabrik head of business development and strategy.
Phil Molefe, Fabrik head of business development and strategy.

Durban-based tech company immedia has invested R10 million in an initiative to help community radio stations around SA and the rest the continent to digitally transform.

The 25-year-old company, which has the financial backing of Microsoft and the Industrial Development Corporation, is inviting community radio stations to apply to be considered for a share of the support, which forms part of the Digital Leap programme.

The newly-launched initiative seeks to help support media companies through the use of Fabrik, a set of cloud-enabled digital tools that empower media entities to live-stream shows, set up a mobile app, grow and engage digitally with audiences around the world, and benefit financially by monetising their audiences.

As part of the programme, immedia says it will give its platform free of charge to qualifying media entrepreneurs across Africa for a year. This includes consultation, training and support to help monetise the technology.

Fabrik is being used by 15 commercial clients, including radio stations Gagasi FM, Smile 90.4FM and YFM.

Phil Molefe, a veteran broadcaster in SA and Fabrik’s head of business development and strategy, says the programme was key to the company’s vision to spearhead media transformation.

He notes the uptake of Fabrik by entrepreneurs at community radio stations around SA demonstrates how empowering the suite of digital tools has been.

“The programme enables them to deepen their relationship with their audience and monetise it sustainably because the quality of their engagement with listeners becomes more meaningful.”

Molefe points out that while community media is often under-resourced and struggles to retain skills, case studies have shown it is possible for them to thrive when maximising the use of digital.

By shifting to a cloud-based platform, radio stations get access to archival and backup that is compliant with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa and Independent Communications Authority of South Africa.

In addition, detailed listener analytics provided by Fabrik gives stations the data they need to convince advertisers and marketers of the value of promoting their products and services through the station’s app, helping bring in much-needed revenue, notes the company.

The Fabrik team says it has made some interesting observations based on the experiences of early adopters of the technology, including within community radio, where many advertisers and business decision-makers are often dismissive of the audience. “For example, one of our clients is a station with an audience in the LSM 4-6 range. That audience is typically regarded as ‘too poor’ or too marginalised to go digital, and yet our clients are proving they are taking to it like ducks to water,” Molefe adds.