Fri, 30 Jul 2021 / Published in AlgoaFM, LATEST NEWS

Algoa FM’s financial director Kevin Reed is retiring after 35 years in the media industry – and a job interview during which he was dressed “in lumo green shorts, a white T-shirt and white flip-flops”.

There is an explanation – having started a financial consulting business in 2000, he thought he had been invited for a studio interview.

Fortunately for all, Algoa FM is the place where “fun is a serious business” and following the February 2000 interview he was hired as the financial manager. Within three years he had been appointed financial director and deputy managing director.

It sometimes comes as a surprise to people who know the outgoing and extroverted side of Reed to find out that, once behind his computer, he has a totally different approach to life.

“Accounting is the most exact science. Debits always equal credits and don’t try to reinvent the abacus.

“The accounting team must never lose sight of the fact that accurate, timeous and meaningful financial and analytical information empowers management, the board and the group, to make informed strategic decisions that benefit all stakeholders,” he says.

Reed’s introduction to the media was with the then EP Newspapers, as financial accountant between 1985 and late 1998.

After joining Algoa FM, he gained an in-depth knowledge of radio by attending international conventions such as the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Dallas, Texas, and spending time at various radio stations in London, including the iconic Capital Radio and Virgin.

He has also worked with NRSmedia in Sydney, Australia, to develop new advertising packages and approaches for Algoa FM’s clients.

Radio is now firmly in his blood, and Reed believes that it is now the most powerful communication medium for companies wanting to connect with their customers in a defined broadcast area.

“In an evolving media landscape Algoa FM is best positioned to partner with clients to help them promote their brand from the Garden Route to the Wild Coast and through the Karoo,” he says.

Looking back, the professional achievements of which he is most proud are 21 years of clean audits at Algoa FM and building a strong team, which will now be headed by Desiré Killian.

“The small finance team is well equipped to take care of the financial and statutory obligations. I have to thank them for their commitment and professionalism, which allows me to retire knowing that the finances of Algoa FM are in very competent hands,” he says.

Then there is the fun aspect – through Algoa FM, Reed has met “in person” a number of superstars, including Shaggy, Belinda Carlisle, James Blunt, Will Young, Josh Groban, Celine Dion and Sting (with his family).

“In the media, we often take for granted how fortunate we are to share our working environment with champions who have diverse talents, creativity and passion. Media houses are a hotbed of human capital and intellectual property”.

The outgoing financial director is the epitome of the lifestyle of the typical Algoa FM listener – “my passions are food, travel and aircraft. Food and travel I believe are the greatest ways to appreciate and try new things and experience cultural diversity,” he says.

Thanks to Covid, travel plans are on the back-burner.

“I will be letting the corporate spring unwind and spend time with the way too many people I need to catch up with. I have worked for almost 50 years, starting as a packer at the first Pick n Pay at Lynwood in Pretoria, so it is now time to chill.

“I look forward to making awesome meals and travelling with my hubby. If that’s not physically possible, I can be found checking out planes at the airport or using an app to follow flights around the world”.

His advice to a younger Kevin: “Do not take time for granted. It goes by in the blink of an eye, especially when you are working hard and having fun at the same time.

“Start saving as soon as you can, but ensure you balance your life’s journey with treats and spoils.

“Surround yourself with the best people, for the right reason. But, mostly, ensure that your life is made up of a sequence of entertaining and engaging stories”.

Media Release for Algoa FM by Siyathetha Communications

Algoa FM: Lesley Geyer: 072 372 1900 / Lesley.G@algoafm.co.za

Siyathetha: Ed Richardson: 083 656 9757 / ed@siyathetha.com

Mon, 26 Jul 2021 / Published in LATEST NEWS, United Stations

Has anyone else noticed how conversations with agencies and clients are different now, especially about radio?

Ordinarily, these conversations focused on the radio station’s listenership stats and how much audience could be bought for how little. The cut and thrust of radio sales, I guess?

I am just not seeing that anymore. Advertisers are just not that interested in a station’s listenership as much as they are in a stations impact and connection with its audience. They are also not that interested in rates anymore (rate cards have become irrelevant anyway). Advertisers now need business solutions, not media plans.

The agency mantra of “how much for how little” is also being replaced by “results before reach”. Smaller media owners and their agility, hunger and innovation is competing (quite nicely in fact) with the larger stations who (and good for them) could always rely on a massive audience and historical momentum.

OK, so why is this? Well, maybe it’s because radio listening has changed too, certainly since lockdown. Where previously there was a clamour for space in the morning and afternoon drives, now the listening patterns are more evenly spread, and not as reliant on commuters pushing up the numbers.

People working from home (our clients included) are realising that you can’t work and watch TV, or work and read a newspaper, or work and browse the internet, or work and see a billboard. But you can work and listen to the radio, or a podcast even. In fact, radio has become so much more powerful now that many mainstream media are less relevant. Of course, this will not be forever, but the love affair with radio will last long after the pandemic becomes history. Radio needed a refresh, a rethink and a renewal, and I think we may have just got it.

I think I like it this way.

Written by Greg Norgrab, Creative Director at United Stations.

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.

Fri, 02 Jul 2021 / Published in LATEST NEWS, Moneyweb

SAfm Market Update with Moneyweb welcomes Fifi Peters as its new host.

Peters is an alumnus of the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa Financial Journalism training programme and holds a degree in economics and journalism from Rhodes University, including qualifications from the SA Institute of Financial Journalism and London School of Economics.

“Fifi is an award-winning journalist and brings a wealth of financial journalism experience and tons of energy to the SAfm Market Update studio,” says Moneyweb editor Ryk van Niekerk. “She is an excellent addition to the Moneyweb team.”

Her career in business journalism spans 10 years, having worked for the likes of Business Day and Financial Mail. She currently hosts CNBC Africa’s flagship market shows Power Lunch and Closing Bell. She has a special interest in African financial markets, and is also a seasoned MC and moderator.

“I’m extremely excited to be joining such a respected and trusted source of news in South Africa,” says Peters.

“It’s an honour to be taking over from Nompu Siziba, whose work I have great admiration for as a journalist. I look forward to meeting South Africans via the airwaves and driving through all the factors moving markets, the economy and business.”

Peters assumes the role on Monday, July 5.

This article was first published on Moneyweb.co.za here.

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

Written by Chris Borain ( Head of Digital: United Stations)

AUDIO STREAM – the live stream of radio station programming via the station’s website, iono.fm or other streaming platforms

In 2019, The Infinite Dial report measured online digital audio listening and found that 44% of South Africans listened to radio on a non-radio device*.

In other words, 44% of South Africans streamed their favourite radio station at home as opposed to listening on a traditional terrestrial radio. With the high (88%) smart phone penetration in South Africa, it’s no wonder the mobile phone is the device of choice when it comes to audio streaming. The digital audio audience is also diverse, with a 50/50 gender split and 71% under the age of 54.

Significant is that this research was done before the world turned upside down with the Covid19 pandemic.

2020 proved to be a watershed year for audio streaming in South Africa, with no signs that the trend is slowing down in 2021. United Stations saw its available streaming audience grow by 100% to 1million streams per month across its network of radio stations and websites since the start of the pandemic.

In line with the growth seen in local digital audio, United Stations bolstered its offering by concluding an agreement to be the exclusive local commercial partner for Wondery – the world’s largest independent podcast producer. Wondery’s expertise in maximizing ROI and innovation in digital audio along with the breadth of their South African audience, added another dimension to the US network.

In traditional radio, marketers can only roll out blanket campaigns – with limited ability to target specific demographics. With online streaming however, marketers can now measure and target ads in the audio domain. Combined with a DMP (Data Management Platform), proprietary first party data is used to build a targeted digital audio campaign. To be blunt, for the first time a traditional 30 second radio spot can now be used to target the right audience, at the right time, in the right place.

The obvious benefits advertisers get with the inclusion of digital audio ads in their strategies are stunning engagement and listen-through rates.

Because linear digital audio ads are not easily skippable – digital audio is not subject to the “five second skip” phase of digital video ads –  the brand enjoys the full attention of the audience. Nielsen Media Lab claims audio ads have a 24% higher recall rate than traditional display ads.

In spite of the pandemic, digital advertising grew by 18% in 2020, as opposed to a 27% reduction in the total advertising market. (IAB-SA Internet Advertising Report 2020)

Now is the ideal time to use your brands digital budget to bolster the performance of your traditional radio campaign with a targeted digital campaign.

The best opportunities in targeted digital audio.

United Stations mix of local podcasts, live audio streams and our catch-up radio offering, are now boosted with podcasts from Wondery, the world’s largest independent podcast producer

Our comprehensive network delivers cost-effective, targeted solutions to increase the ROI of any radio advertising campaign.