Wed, 23 Jun 2021 / Published in LATEST NEWS, OFM

 If one could sum up the job of a journalist, it mostly comes down to telling stories. Not our own, but those of other people. This might sound simple, but the work that goes into writing and broadcasting or publishing a story can take days. 

Journalists are thus considered people who have a wealth of information on the widest variety of topics. Now, taking this into consideration, who would ever think we would live in times where we would have to report on something unknown, invisible, so foreign, never experienced in modern times, and only learning the (mutating) facts as we write? 

That’s Covid-19 for you. It can certainly be considered a watershed moment in the media industry globally. One day the OFM News team was chasing a story about a church gathering with international guests in Bloemfontein with possible Covid-19 positive cases, the next the whole country had been shut down – lock, stock and barrel – cut-off from the rest of the world. I remember telling a colleague, who responded very calmly, “Not to worry, so is the rest of the world”. 

The newsroom was abuzz with more questions than answers. Information overload was the order of the day. The team was in daily brainstorming sessions to figure out ways to tell the story differently. We had to make sure we were double-checking and questioning ourselves all the time. Are we giving enough information? Should we give more? Are we maintaining the correct balance of warning without causing panic? What should we do differently? 

But still, the ink from our pens could not dry. We had to learn and inform. And then learn more and inform more. We epitomised the Confucius quote: “The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life”. 

It was clear that it did not matter what happened, the basic test of journalism – whether a story is considered news or not – still applied. If you do not know the answer to a question, chances are about ten of your friends or family members do not know it either and that is enough people who will be interested in the story. 

Another foolproof strategy in journalism – especially when you run out of angles for news articles – is to tell the story through someone’s eyes. To try and make it more human and to tell the story using someone else’s words. But as time went on, we realised that hundreds and thousands of people were testing positive and a frightening number of them were succumbing to the pandemic. 

As is the case with any news department worth its salt, the OFM News team sets the news agenda for listeners and readers in Central South Africa. Our ability to keep people informed has been tested in so many ways with the coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Although listeners and readers were glued to their radios and screens during hard lockdown, they became overwhelmed within a few months, and news and pandemic fatigue set in. I do, however, believe that never before have the South African public and the government understood the importance of the news industry as well as they do now. 

The OFM News team strives to keep listeners in Central South Africa informed and up to date. More than a year later and the country is now experiencing the third wave. At provincial level, the vaccination programme is in full swing. As the pandemic continues to change our lives in a million different ways, we, the news writers, will continue to learn along with our listeners and readers, and, most importantly, report on it. 

For more info, please contact Lindiwe Mtwentula on 051 5050 900, 082 416 1665, or lindiwe@ofm.co.za. 

Mon, 15 Mar 2021 / Published in LATEST NEWS, OFM

 While it is hard to absorb any learnings from the year that was 2020, any chance to learn something should be met with an open mind if we are to unlock any opportunity for the future. While 2020 was simply dubbed ‘stifling’, there was a silver lining amidst the dark cloud of COVID-19 for media and, most especially, for radio. 

So, what did we learn? 

We learned that while everything was falling apart and credible news was hard to come by, among its audience, OFM was one of the few brands that could be relied upon for accurate and credible information related to the Coronavirus. 

We learned that, in general, radio listening was up by 30% (Kantar) by May 2020 and that 71% of Central South Africans listened to more radio than usual, during the then lockdown, across all of OFM’s available platforms – radio, mobile and desktop apps. 

 The absence the BRC (Broadcast Research Council of South Africa) RAMS (Radio Audience Measure) meant that OFM had to further inform itself about its audience and media consumption habits. The last reading pinned OFM’s 7-day cume at 315 000 listeners. BrandMapp (who independently track economically active South African’s online activity) pinned OFM’s listenership at 479 000. Thus, while the pandemic had a limiting effect overall, this forced the brand’s hand to be more insights-driven than ever before. These independent research studies and insights paved the way for more agile products that met a demand that otherwise would have not necessarily have been discovered, such as OFM LIVE LINK and BrandMAX. 

But radio is more than an extended aerial with a tuner and speaker. The modern age has given radio the opportunity to expand and meet its audience in cyberspace. 

OFM spent much of the last three years aggressively investing in and developing adjacent offerings, like various digital platforms, including social media, desktop and mobile apps, as well as a revamped website and streaming service, OFM Stasie2. OFM’s online users have increased almost 2% year on year to 1.745-million online users by December 2020 and a further 260 000 unique online streams. All of the above excludes the ambitious podcasting planned for 2021, which includes an association with leading podcast publisher – Wondery. 

What does this all mean? 

OFM is creating an ecosystem. A place where the brand and listeners can find and access each other across various and different platforms. Discoveries fast-tracked by the Coronavirus. 

So, what do we know now? 

We know that in 2021, OFM listeners indicated that they are likely to listen to more radio, and streamed audio services, than they did in 2020. Of the little over 1 100 respondents: 

  • 54% of OFM listeners indicated that they are likely to consume more radio;
  • 65% indicated that they already listen to more radio between 06:00 and 09:00 and that many kept their radio tuned onto OFM from 6am, in the car, at home and at work. An insight, revealed time and time again from the BRC RAMs, is that OFM has one of the highest instances of time spent listening over 7 days – 20.97 hours;
  • and 16% indicated that they are likely to consume more streamed audio offerings. 

“The study indicates the absolute strength of radio and audio consumption, listener engagement, and the loyalty OFM listeners have toward OFM. In 2021, OFM turn 35 years young and the station can be proud that radio and audio consumption is getting stronger,” – Nick Efstathiou, CEO of the Central Media Group, holding company of OFM. 

This translates to the absolute value of audio. Where there is engagement, there is a prospective solution, and radio sits at the table of this digital revolution. Audio remains inescapable and OFM intends to build on the legacy of its last 35 years in audio. 

For more info, please contact Lindiwe Mtwentula on 051 5050 900, 082 416 1665, or lindiwe@ofm.co.za.