12 September 2006

Africa: Umhlobo Wenene FM - Live From Highway Africa

Geneva — Under the SABC banner, Umhlobo Wenene FM, SAfm, and television channel SABC Africa have disseminated Highway Africa focused programming content across the country and into other African countries.

Umhlobo Wenene FM is the second-largest vernacular radio station in South Africa. For the first time, the station is broadcasting live from the Highway Africa conference. "We are very excited about the 30-minute show that will be broadcast daily from the conference," says Fez Mpunzi, Executive Producer of Umhlobo Wenene. Mpunzi is hoping that 2006 will set the stage for Umhlobo Wenene to come back and do something more permanent in the years to come. The show, broadcast from the purpose-built SABC radio studio, fits into the station's current affairs slot and aims to reach the station's four million+ isiXhosa-speaking and -understanding listeners.

"In the first show we wanted to break down the Highway Africa concept and get it across to audiences," says Asanda Magaqa, SABC radio news journalist and current affairs anchor. Conference Director Chris Kabwato introduced the conference to listeners and explained its importance. "Audiences feel great because they are part of the continental picture." Mpunzi said that the live broadcast is a breakthrough for the show's listeners because "it is re- presentative of the whole continent and audiences can now hear about views and ideas on a larger scale."

The live broadcasts serve to push SABC news into being more interactive, says Solly Phetoe, national editor of radio current affairs. The isiXhosa broadcast supports the SABC in becoming "more interactive with the general public, not confined to only English but also other languages". SAfm and SABC Africa are also broadcasting live from Grahamstown, covering the conference for African audiences. "SAfm has been able to have an up-close look at ICT issues that affect its audiences," says Steven Lang, executive producer of current affairs on SAfm. "It has also allowed listeners to learn the view points of a wide variety of African journalists."

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