Regular listeners of Tygerberg 104FM, broadcasting from Parow, are angered by the station’s decision to automate Xhosa programming during lockdown while the Afrikaans shows are still live.
The Xhosa programming was normally broadcast daily from 10pm till 5am but since lockdown started, the station has been playing music or repeats during this slot.
The Northern News is in possession of various emails that were sent to the station from listeners such as Simangele Mathebula.
Ms Mathebula said: “As a loyal listener of Tygerberg 104FM, I would like to know why there are no more live shows in the evening, which is predominantly Xhosa shows. I fully understand why they were not aired during level five of lockdown, but now that we have dropped down to level four some rules have been relaxed so surely something can be done. I do listen to the Afrikaans version, but I cannot freely interact with its presenters and listeners because my Afrikaans is limited. When are the Xhosa presenters coming back on air?”
Tygerberg 140FM content manager Rikus van Rooy said the station had decided to cut live broadcasts after 10pm so that staff would not fall foul of lockdown – with its curfew from 5pm to 8am – or place themselves or others at risk by interacting with others. He also said the decision had also been taken to help the station honour commitments already made to advertisers who had booked slots. “This decision was also implemented at our sister radio station, GrootFM, in Pretoria,” he said.
“All of our programmes during night time are pre-recorded and between 10pm and 5am, and listeners can still be assured of the best content and music. We are allowing presenters/pastors to come in and pre-record programmes during daytime.”
The salaries of those staff responsible for the live broadcasts that were no longer being aired had not been cut, he said.
“The management of Radio Tygerberg want to assure loyal listeners that there is no ill meaning with this decision but our main intention is to look at the safety of our staff and presenters so that we can function at maximum capacity after lockdown.”
That sentiment was shared by another listener, Mandisa Makubalo, who believes the station runs the risk of losing loyal listeners.
“This is a time where businesses need to be careful and mindful of every business decision being made, taking into account the overall impact on customers and stakeholders. It is quite clear that during this period of time, people need to have access to information and taking away direct interaction from a source of information is hurting the situation instead of helping.”
Ms Makubalo, a management consultant, said the station could face a backlash from listeners after lockdown. “This is the time to be injecting hope in the heartache of listeners, they need to know now more than ever that the radio station cares and is there for them.”
A source at the station, who did not want to be named for fear of backlash from their employer, said that the staff responsible for the Xhosa programming had pleaded in vain with management to let them do live broadcasts.
“The company has not yet changed their stance from having Xhosa programmes on automation. They, however, in response to some of the listeners complaints, promised them that the company will provide satisfactory pre-programmed content. The issue remains that both the listeners and the presenters want to have the same studio interaction that is experienced by the Afrikaans community and their presenters, who all belong to the same radio station.”