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Radio News brings Elections 2016 to the people

Radio journalists have a great love for immediacy. They work tirelessly to ensure that news reaches their listeners with accuracy.

As much as SABC Television News is out in full force, Radio News plays even more integral part in covering the Local Government Elections due to its strong and wide reach. Anybody with a radio is able to access news in any one of the 11 official languages. Not only that, each radio station streams their content online.

Angie Kapelianis, Editor for Current Affairs Radio News, explains that they have 14 teams deployed for these elections. 10 of the teams are based at the Results Operation Centre (ROC) in Pretoria and four teams in the different provinces. These include full blown teams who have two or three correspondents for each current affairs show, who in turn also look after the different languages.

“It’s a massive operation for us. We may all not be here (ROC) as we’re also based on the ground in the provinces but the difference with radio, unlike TV, is that it is very decentralised, so we generally go out into the field doing what we have to do.”

Kapelianis has been with the SABC for 24 years and explains that Radio News is extremely powerful due to its immediacy and reach, “It’s very powerful in a very anonymous way, so people don’t know who you are, you do your work, you get on with it and there’s no instant fame. There’s a lot of hard work behind the scenes but I think it’s also the power of the voice and how that voice and message can travel if you have very good intentions and generally radio people don’t have egos, we all have egos but most of us have the ability to put the ego in the pocket, like in a cage.”

“I think my love for radio is having grown up with radio, listening to stories and then just realising how powerful it is. It can go into anyone’s home, anyone’s car, and it doesn’t cost a lot of money and is very mobile and portable. If it’s done well, it creates memories that linger beyond the image; it feeds into the brain and the heart and emotions, if done well.”

Executive Producer for SAfm Current Affairs, Krivani Pillay, says that preparations to cover the Local Government Elections actually started last year, when teams got together to put forward ideas on how they wanted to cover the elections.

”At SAFM we focus mostly on the content and we highlight areas around the country that need coverage. We have reporters deployed, so we can tap into them at any given time, so we actually really do have a hands on approach, on what’s going on across the country. So if you want to know what’s going on, you can send us a SMS, we would then either broadcast it, or retweet what’s going on in that region or even do an interview live on air.”

Pillay further explains that they have access to a range of resources including analysts to include varied opinions and views on the result data sets available to SABC News platforms so as the numbers start coming in from voting stations, they are able to keep listeners up to speed.

“My love for radio is the immediacy, you turn on any radio and all you need is a battery, you don’t need a power cable and you have access to the radio. Today, you can access information with your smart device, as long you have Wi-Fi, enough reception and good service, but it’s the immediacy, it’s the fact that South Africans can access information literally at the tips of their fingers.”

Ukhozi FM is the biggest radio station in South Africa, attracting an average of 7.5 million listeners per week. Executive Producer for Ukhozi FM Current Affairs, Dumisani Ndimande, says that they are looking forward to an exciting week and that they will make sure to supply as much information possible to their listeners.

“We cater for almost 2 million listeners a day, so we have a huge task ahead of us to actually make sure that in every hour we supply them with the exact information about what is going on around the country.”

“Radio is part of my life because I like it, I like asking questions, I like using my voice, it makes me feel great and besides with radio you are able to talk to millions of people, it’s part of educating the nation in particular when it comes to elections, that’s when you talk about how people should vote, in terms of what is expected of them and why should they vote.”

Senior Producer for RSG Current Affairs, Hendrik Martin, explains that they will be updating listeners on the hour from early morning to late evening about what’s happening in the elections in addition to their normal shows. After months of intense preparation they are ready to keep their listeners up to date with all the news surrounding elections.

“I kind of grew up in it, I started off by producing programmes for radio, at the time it was programmes for the foreign market and it was fascinating. In time I got to know TV, I never actually worked for TV but I reguarly went out with their reporters and at some point I realised it’s way too involved, it takes too long and too much effort to get something on the air. With radio it’s very quick, very immediate and people’s voices to me are the most important thing.”

For Ndimande, it’s also about giving voice to communities, who otherwise wouldn’t have a channel to voice their issues.

“One other issue that has taken a lot of my attention is the killings of Albinos, people living with Albinism, I’ve interacted with those people, I’ve heard their views, I’ve interacted with them, it’s very interesting because their voice has never been heard and through radio we’ve been able to touch many lives and that’s what keeps me going, and makes me want to do more.”

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