SW Radio Africa (London)

26 June 2012

Zimbabwe: Zimpapers Star FM Radio Goes Live

Photo: Bulawayo24News
Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu

One of the two commercial radio stations granted licenses in the country last year has gone on the air. Star FM, which during the licensing process was known as Zimpapers Talk Radio, went live for the first time at midday on Monday.

Despite local and international media branding it the first private radio station to break the state owned ZBC monopoly, the first independent, commercial radio station was Capital Radio - set up in 2000 after winning a Supreme Court case challenging the governments broadcasting monopoly.

But Robert Mugabe had it shut down at gunpoint after just 6 days of test broadcasts.

In the ten years since then no licences have been issued to independent broadcasters. It was widely agreed that last years call for applications for radio licences would not see them being given to any truly independent broadcasters.

And this proved to be the case when the first licence was issued to a radio station owned by the state controlled print media. The other station that was granted a licence is AB Communications, owned by former ZBC journalist Supa Mandiwanzira. This station is yet to start broadcasting.

According to our correspondent Simon Muchemwa, Star FM say they will broadcast a mixture of music and speech programmes 24 hours a day.

When the station hit the airwaves on Monday they mainly played western type music and promos from their stable of DJ's. It is clear this radio station is going to be less about talk radio, more about music, despite the fact that they were granted a broadcasting licence on the basis of being a talk radio station.

Their broadcasts are confined to a 15 km radius of Harare and Bulawayo.

'Star FM is almost a replica of the former Radio 3 station and has attracted some of its former old personalities station manager, Admire Taderera, Tich Matambanadzo, programs manager and top DJ's such as Kelvin Sifelani and Comfort Mbofana.

On why the station changed its name on the day it hit the airwaves, Muchemwa said there was no official explanation that was given, except as teasing statement from presenter Munya Milimo saying 'it's a long story.'

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