Wed, 21 Jul 2021 / Published in AME, LATEST NEWS

In July of last year, Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams published a policy direction asking ICASA to fast track the licensing of digital radio broadcasting services in South Africa. Radio insiders were encouraged to see DAB+ mentioned specifically as an integral component of her digital radio standards plan.

A year on, the question of whether DAB+ is a viable opportunity in a country like ours — where radio is a huge medium for people to consume information, news, and entertainment every day — still lingers. One thing remains clear; although internet connectivity is improving around the country, there simply isn’t enough access or bandwidth for everyone to move from FM onto streaming. We need something else and DAB+ is a viable candidate that shows great promise. But what kind of impact could DAB+ have on the South African radio broadcasting landscape as a whole?

DAB+: A digital radio technology standard

Back in the late 1980’s, a digital radio technology standard was defined as part of a European research project. It laid the foundations for the creation of what we now know as DAB+ (digital audio broadcasting plus), a global radio standard that sets out to be a viable digital alternative to traditional AM/FM broadcasting. DAB+ is topical in South Africa because it was recently advertised in the Government Gazette — an encouraging sign that suggests forward motion and a goal to make it widely available to everyone in the long run.

Global integration

In the same way that the country has been slow on the uptake of digital terrestrial TV, there is an argument that DAB+ is nearly two decades late in South Africa. This is more evident when you consider that over 470 million people around the world can already receive DAB broadcasts.

Even though DAB is widely available elsewhere, widespread integration has been a challenge. Finland is one of the rare countries where DAB+ has been totally integrated and is the only choice for people to listen to alongside online streaming. Ireland is on the opposite end of the spectrum. The country switched off all DAB services in March of this year, citing cost effectiveness and low market penetration as some of the reasons for abandonment.

Access to receivers and the cost barrier

The examples of challenges elsewhere might indicate possible integration challenges in South Africa too. A key problem faced in many markets is that existing FM units are not able to pick up DAB+. They can’t even receive transmissions from DAB, its predecessor. Even radios that can receive DAB won’t be able to receive DAB+. Only DAB+ sets are backwards compatible, so all citizens will need these to gain access transmissions to begin with.

Because access to physical receivers is so limited, there would need to be conversations with companies who are able to manufacture and distribute these at low cost. With a base cost of roughly R300 for a bottom end DAB+ receiver there is a lot of ground to be covered before it becomes as popular as FM.   More advanced receivers that show pictures and streaming text are vastly more expensive. Although some new vehicles and cellphones have DAB+ capability built in, there is a long way to go to get mass coverage.

How DAB+ could change the face of radio in South Africa

If there was widespread access to receivers, and the cost barrier was removed, DAB+ could be a real game changer in South Africa. On a traditional transmitter, where you have one FM frequency, you have access to a single radio station. On a DAB mux (or multiplex), one “frequency” has around twenty different options to listen to, depending on the quality the broadcaster decides to stream. This gives broadcasters the opportunity to access multiple channels, to reach more audiences, and there is a major knock-on effect from there.

DAB+ would potentially create an additional layer of audio opportunity for radio stations in new markets that they wouldn’t have been able to reach through traditional AM or FM stations. Take Gqeberha based Algoa FM, for example. They could apply for a DAB frequency because they want to provide a service to audiences in Cape Town and Durban alongside their existing FM listener base. It would turn them into a national radio station overnight, without the worry of having to migrate shows to a streaming environment that won’t be able to handle the bandwidth load presented by their audience.  A group of established streaming stations could also apply for a DAB+ mux together and offer their existing on-line music and content services to a bigger audience.

An opportunity to serve the underserved

DAB+ could also allow stations like these to reach places that were truly unreachable before for the first time. It creates an opportunity for underserved (rural) communities to have access to broadcasts where traditional FM frequencies struggle to, can’t or haven’t been legally licensed to reach previously underserved communities. This creates a variety of engagement opportunities based on geography, religion, sport and even education. Consider an educational radio station with several DAB+ frequencies, broadcasting simultaneously across the entire country. It could target high school students during exam time, quite literally becoming the “William Smith” of radio and reaching millions of scholars in the process.

Opening a door to new brand synergies

The amplified broadcasting opportunities would also naturally open new opportunities for innovative brand synergies as well. Radio groups like the National Community Radio Forum or some of the existing commercial radio players could create DAB muxes where they have blended programming from several of their stations in territories where there aren’t FM receivers.

This is an advertiser’s dream, granting brands access to new markets through a vehicle that they know well and trust already. Consider campaigns that target people who speak a certain language but have never been able to listen to a station on traditional radio due to geographical constraints and the language barrier. With multiple streaming avenues and targeted campaigns, stations and brands could finally begin to reach similar audiences in their native tongue for the very first time.

The DAB+ content opportunity

We can’t talk about the potential of DAB+ without mentioning the content creation opportunity. Whereas the content presented on traditional radio has an audience ceiling (and is limited to the amount of FM frequencies available), DAB+ is essentially an unlimited opportunity. As more channels become available, the content opportunity grows, and more people (jobs) will be needed to populate that content. As has been seen in the upswing of podcasting, this allows brands to invest in people who are creating interesting, topical, and engaging content. DAB+ essentially becomes the new home of exciting, high quality content that is widely available for listeners to consume, purely based on their own personal interests and preferences.

An optimistic outlook for DAB+

Despite that it has taken a long time — as well as technical challenges and a cost barrier that will need to be dealt with — DAB+ shows real promise and opportunity in South Africa.

It has the potential to create an additional layer for broadcasters to work with, it exposes audiences previously kept in the dark to existing and niche programming, and it gives brands the opportunity to amplify their efforts while speaking directly to their target market in the process. Content creators will also have additional platforms and scope to create and express themselves on.

A blended approach seems the most logical approach as we look for ways to utilise (and monetise) the DAB+ spectrum. At AME we have always loved audio and the connection it makes with people. Our two radio stations (OFM and Algoa FM) are well positioned to create new listening opportunities for audiences outside their traditional FM reach. Our Team at the Central Media Group hold an ENCS license as our first step to leveraging the DAB+. Additional platforms and technology are good for the entire broadcast business from platform owners, technical suppliers, content creators and ultimately the audience. It is however in our hands as the industry to drive the process.

Mon, 12 Jul 2021 / Published in LATEST NEWS, OFM

This winter, Central South Africa feasted with a goal on Thursdays as OFM and Round Table Southern Africa joined forces to fight the freeze – with vetkoek!

Die Groot Vet Kombers Proe-jek challenged listeners to support a wide range of charities. OFM visited towns and cities in their broadcast region, where vetkoek with Beefmaster mince was sold at R35 each, but listeners were encouraged to make larger donations to charities in their region. In some cases, donations up to R10 000 were received!

Every Vetkoek Thursday, The Joyride team broadcast their show live from the charity drive to update the rest of Central South Africa on the project.

Purchases were made using a secure drive-through system, in line with Covid-19 regulations.

The project began on Thursday, 10 June, in Vryburg at Mams Megastop, where R68 522 was raised for Adrian Losper Soup Kitchen and Rusoord Old Age Home, in association with Round Table 72 Vryburg.

July 17 was Potchefstroom’s turn. Eastvaal Toyota hosted the team and R126 856 was raised for the Potchefstroom Dienssentrum vir Bejaardes, in association with Round Table 49 Potchefstroom.

On 24 June, vetkoek was sold at AgriMark Upington. R107 555 was raised for Leer & Leef Community Project, in association with Round Table 79 Upington.

Finally, on 1 July, OFM was at Empire Square SUPERSPAR, where R147 067 was collected for Engo’s Welriedal Boys and Girls Home, Merafong Children’s Home and Welkom Youth Care Centre, in association with Round Table 40 Welkom.

OFM and Round Table Southern Africa raised a total of R450 000 for charity!

According to Lindiwe Mtwentula, OFM Marketing Manager, “We as OFM are very proud to have been able to assist those in need this winter with this project. Our goal is to uplift the communities we broadcast to – in everything we do. This project showed immense love from our listeners and stakeholders and coming together to give back. Thank you.”

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

Tue, 06 Jul 2021 / Published in LATEST NEWS, OFM

 OFM, celebrating 35 years of the sound of your life, is offering listeners a chance to win big with the OFM Secret Song competition, on air from 2 to 30 July 2021! 

July has been earmarked as OFM’s ‘official’ birthday month, with special on-air birthday programming planned for Thursday, 1 July. From Friday, 2 July, listeners will be enticed with the exciting ‘Secret Song’ competition, where one lucky listener stands to win R35 000 cash for correctly guessing the title as well as the artist performing the song in question. 

OFM has selected a ‘secret song’, which was released roundabout 1986. A short clip of this song will be played on air throughout the month and listeners will be asked to guess what it is. 

To enter, listeners need to SMS the keyword ‘secret’ to 36636 (R1.50/SMS) with the full title of the song, as well as the artist. They also need to include their name and surname, and from where they are listening. Only entries that include all of the required information will be eligible. 

From 12 to 29 July 2021, OFM will select 35 finalists, who will be announced on air. Their names and song selections will be published on ofm.co.za. 

Once a song has been guessed, the finalist announced and the name displayed on the website, it is no longer in contention. Another song choice can then be guessed. Selected finalists’ choices are final, and they cannot enter another song choice. 

Clues as to what the song is can be obtained by SMSing ‘clue’ to 36636 (R1.50/SMS) from 2 July 2021. These clues will change from time to time. Keep an ear out as presenters will notify listeners of new clues being released. 

Says OFM Programme Manager, Tim Thabethe: “The ‘Secret Song’ concept is a tried and tested and fun competition mechanic that talks to OFM’s biggest product offering, which is music. 

“The R35 000 prize is a life-changing sum of money. OFM is driven to surprise and delight the listener and July presents one of three campaigns in 2021 that celebrate OFM’s 35th birthday. 

“The suspense of the Secret Song should create a lot of talkability among OFM’s listening audience,” concludes Thabethe. 

In the spirit of giving, OFM will waiver our 60 day winning rule, meaning that should you have won anything on OFM’s platforms on the last 60 days, you will still be eligible to enter the Secret Song competition. Other general competition rules will still apply and can be found on OFM’s website. 

Although there is only one grand prize of R35 000 cash, all finalists will receive limited edition retro OFM memorabilia in celebration of our 35th birthday year. 

The grand prize winner will be announced on OFM on 30 July 2021, during the Good Morning Breakfast, between 06:00 and 09:00. 

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

Mon, 28 Jun 2021 / Published in LATEST NEWS, OFM

Hi, I trust this letter finds you well.

On Thursday 01 July 2021, OFM will officially celebrate 35 years as the leading commercial radio station in Central South Africa. This is a famous moment for a radio station that has been the voice of the region for many years.

On the day OFM will feature some of it’s most famous voices. They include but not limited to Rian van Heerden, Christie Hansen, Laurika Rauch and Koos Kombuis for colour. The day will be dedicated to our loyal listeners and business partners. We look forward to celebrating with you, and trust you will enjoy listening with us.

Be Safe! Stay Safe!

Regards, Nick Efstathiou, CEO – Central Media Group t/a OFM

Fri, 25 Jun 2021 / Published in LATEST NEWS, OFM

OFM, Central South Africa’s media powerhouse for more than three decades, is proud to announce that the Sound of Your Life has signed up to once again be the exclusive electronic media sponsor of the Toyota Cheetahs.

The radio station, through its on-air and online platforms, will not only keep fans updated on the blow-by-blow action throughout the Carling Currie Cup season, which has just commenced, but also check in regularly with the squad to track their progress and build ‘gees’ amongst supporters so that although they’re playing to empty stadiums, they take their home ground advantage on the road with them to the field.

According to Nick Efstathiou, CEO of Central Media Group, Cheetah rugby is the heart and soul of rugby in Central South Africa.

“Not to mention that it’s everyone’s second-favourite team, but our number one! We’re looking forward this Currie Cup season as the media sponsor, partner, supporter and sponsor of the Cheetahs. I think the team has a fantastic opportunity to reclaim the Currie Cup. They have a great squad, great backing and great leadership. We wish the team well,” concludes Efstathiou.

Says Kobus le Roux, General Manager Commercial of the Toyota Cheetahs: “The Toyota Cheetahs are proud to have taken hands yet again with the Central Media Group, and specifically OFM. A proudly Central South African company like OFM is now yet again the official media partner of the Toyota Cheetahs. The Toyota Cheetahs thank OFM and Central Media Group for their unwavering support over the years and look forward to making you proud this Currie Cup Season.”

More exciting news is that for some of these fixtures, OFM will stream full, live match commentary online from veteran announcer Pieter Möller via its OFM Extra stream that can be accessed on ofm.co.za, our free mobile and desktop apps as well as iono.fm.

Read more here.

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

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. 

Fri, 07 May 2021 / Published in LATEST NEWS, OFM

From laid-back lounges to bustling traffic; from tiny corner shops to majestic malls – OFM resounds across Central South Africa with dials turned up, not only to amplify the great music on offer but whenever there’s a chance to win.

When considering OFM as an acronym, the ‘F’ can certainly come to represent ‘fun’ and ‘frequency.

OFM has put our money where our mouth is when it comes to our competition tagline “For the competitions of your life!”

Over the past three-and-a-half decades, the radio station has given away millions of rand in prizes – ranging from life-changing experiences, overseas holidays and watching global icons live in concert, to vehicles, a house, copious amounts of cash and even brilliant gag prizes like bags of bragging rights and an air guitar played with a branded OFM pick.

OFM listeners know that tuning in affords them daily chances to win with our headline shows’ benchmark popular quizzes known as The Money for Nothing Quiz (Good Morning Breakfast, weekdays, 06:00 – 09:00) and The Time Trap (The Joyride, weekdays, 15:00 – 18:00).

An extremely popular competition is the OFM Cash Call. Around 3 000 listeners participate in this bi-weekly promotion by listening out for certain ‘trigger’ songs and then entering for a share of R10 000.

Recently, to launch OFM’s 35th birthday celebrations held throughout 2021, OFM presented the ‘Spot the Yellow Fleet’ competition which offered listeners a chance to win a share of R35 000 by spotting any of OFM’s fleet vehicles, taking a selfie and uploading it to social media.

During the campaign, which spanned six weeks across February and March, more than 1 300 entries were received from the two dozen towns OFM visited during the time. On social media, this competition garnered more than 657 000 reach and 35 000 interaction. This competition also gave presenters and staff the opportunity to engage with listeners to build brand love.

Another, extremely successful multi-platform campaign run in 2020, requested recipes from our audience, which were collated in Central SA’s very own cookbook to showcase the region. One lucky home cook received an R30 000 grocery voucher.

OFM’s most popular competition throughout the years, however, remains ‘The Safe’. Here listeners are afforded the opportunity to choose between a number of ‘vaults’, each containing a cash prize or booby trap. Listeners continue to play until they opt-out, keeping their winnings, or hit a booby trap and lose it all. This competition has received over 100 000 entries during a two-week campaign.

Dubbed the ultimate ‘theatre of the mind’, radio has always led the charge when it comes to contests and promotions. For instance, it’s not only ‘soap operas’ that were first presented on the radio that later found a popular home on television and the web, globally renowned game show ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’ also has its roots in radio.

Creative competitions not only create a ‘buzz’ in the marketplace but also leverage the power of incentive to drive an active response. While the audience is engaged and excited, a radio competition creates a direct point of access for consumers and a brand through a trusted platform.

Even though not all listeners enter the competition, they will often remain tuned in to hear the outcome – to find out who wins or what was the correct answer to the question or riddle.

While certain mechanics have become outdated over the years, certain staples stood the test of time. These include: guess the ‘secret sound’, find the ‘bandit’, pay your bills, win your dream (insert ‘big item’ here – house, car, vacation, wedding etc), minute-to-win-it, ‘when you hear’, choose a number, and beat the clock. All these traditional radio competitions have undergone countless permutations but are all still essentially the highly popular radio competitions audiences love and offer brands optimal exposure.

Over the years, OFM has learned that our audience, although comprising various demographics across four provinces, respond best when the following is present in a competition: the music they love, an opportunity to be right, and of course a nice cash prize. Thus, a music quiz or game always remains a winning promotion.

Also, the number of entries expected is directly proportional to the ease with which the competition can be entered as well as the incentive. Don’t expect your target to run around and jump through hoops for an R100, start adding some zeros and you might get them to jump through a couple. Overly complex mechanics are never recommended as these will not garner the required response.

Furthermore, aside from the hype and brand love that could result from a radio competition, technology now affords insights into the audience. It is possible to accurately track and even poll, with their consent, of course, entrants on their preferences and behaviour, invaluable insights for brands.

When an on-air endorsement is coupled with the insights that online provide, a radio competition, utilising its digital platforms as well, is a sure-fire promotion offering the biggest amount of exposure in the shortest amount of time.

All of OFM’s competitions are tailored to ensure that they not only offer entertainment to the audience but also reach the desired outcome for the advertiser. OFM highly values the statement that we not only offer a platform for your next winning promotion but that we are your media partner when it comes to growing your business.

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.