RedRadio programme manager Thomas Hele. Supplied image.
RedRadio programme manager Thomas Hele. Supplied image.

Student station RedRadio provides assistance to ravaged Alex FM

By Karishma Dipa Time of article published Jul 24, 2021

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Johannesburg - Radio is a vital broadcasting platform, particularly in a democratic nation such as South Africa where the dissemination of information is vital.

This is particularly the case for community radio stations where scores of people from all walks of life rely on it for information, education and entertainment.

But Alex FM, one of Gauteng’s most popular community radio stations, was unable to perform these vital functions when civil unrest movements led to their premises being ransacked during violents scenes of looting last week, forcing the station to close indefinitely.

In a bid to get the community radio station in Alexandra back on air, neighbouring station RedRadio has jumped to their aid.

The Sandton-based student run station, which is situated at Redhill school in Morningside, has since pledged R5 000 to Alex FM, with the aim of providing further financial assistance soon.

“In the future, we have a couple of fund-raising ideas that we would like to donate to Alex FM,” RedRadio programme manager Thomas Hele told The Saturday Star this week.

He explained that while they were in a fortunate position to avoid last week’s unrest, RadRadio was determined to assist Alex FM to get back on air.

“There is no doubt that RedRadio is privileged in the community that supports us and with that, comes great responsibility.

“Alex FM, similarly to RedRadio, plays a pivotal role in building skill and experience in a cut-throat industry.”

Hele described Alex FM as a “pillar in the broadcasting industry” and said that it was important for them to continue the important work they do.

“It is a privilege that we have been able to help out in a small way and we hope to provide further assistance in the near future.”

While the Sandton student radio station has provided assistance to neighbouring Alex FM, they are no strangers to assisting the Joburg broadcasting community at large.

Their recent partnership with the Johannesburg Junior Council (JCC) has resulted in the creation of bi-weekly podcasts which stream on RedRadio’s platform.

“The podcast is unique because it gives perspective from youth from all over Johannesburg from many different perspectives which is so vital for our audience to receive,” said Hele.

RedRadio has also been involved in helping the Brescia House School in Bryanston, Sandton, with initiating their own podcast channel.

Hele and those at the student radio station are passionate about lending a helping hand to the community because they too required assistance from the likes of Hot 91.9 and 702 in terms of training and internships.

“Both radio stations have been life-changing for RedRadio,” said Hele.

“When we initially set up RedRadio, we had no idea about the broadcasting industry – we figured it out as we went along but my experience at Primedia gave me a real insight into commercial radio stations broadcasting to very different audiences,” the RedRadio programme manager said.

“At 702, the incredibly precision and clockwork manner in which they work felicitated our journey to bring informed and accurate information to our listeners, especially in our news team.”

He added that Hot 919 (now Hot 1027) will also forever be cemented in the success of RedRadio.

“Sam Cowen, former breakfast show co-host, gave Christopher Blignaut (former RedRadio station manager) and myself hands-on experience about community radio and how serving communities and organisations that make a difference is instrumental.

“‘Without a doubt, the Hot Radio Training Academy influenced everything on our station from programming to presenting to news to socials – the course was packed with lessons from industry giants that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”

Hele hopes that RedRadio, Alex FM and other radio stations of its kind continue the valuable work they do, despite the many challenges broadcasters face.

“Community radio has the power to inform opinions and mobilise change for the better which is our fundamental aim,” Hele believes.

“RedRadio doesn’t care for profits and revenue generation, our aim is to create sustainable relationships with our partners and give an accurate experience of the broadcasting industry.”

The Saturday Star

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