Brick walls or brick columns? : management responses to the challenge of sustainability in community radio with special reference to Bush Radio and Radio Zibonele

Mati, Shepherd A. (2001-04)

Thesis (MPhil) -- University of Stellenbosch, 2001.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Community radio stations in South Africa are faced with a huge challenge to become sustainable in the process of serving their communities. The issue of sustainability itself is complex and shaped by a range of conditionalities. These include community participation, funding, regulatory and licencing factors, staff and management expertise, and the strategic planning and management capacity of a station. Often the communities themselves are materially poor and unable to contribute in monetary terms to the radio station. However, these same communities are also a source of wealth when it comes to experience, ideas, human power and time. A major challenge is for station management to develop organisational strategies that facilitate full utilisation of this community resource in the process of sustaining their stations. The focus of this study is on two stations in the Western Cape - Bush Radio and Radio Zibonele - and how their management is responding to the challenge of sustainability. Bush Radio has evolved a diversification strategy based on providing formal training and development as an income-generator, and Radio Zibonele has responded through a strategy of selling airtime to advertisers. This work describes these sustainability strategies and explores whether they constitute 'building a brick column or a brick wall'. The conclusion suggests that while both radio stations demonstrate varying degrees of community participation, clear internal systems of monitoring and control of resources, they differ in some fundamental respects of strategy. Bush Radio, on the one hand, shows a clear commitment to consciously diversifying income sources in a way that does not leave the station highly dependent on any single source. This, the writer submits, constitutes an attempt at building a "brick wall". Radio Zibonele, on the other hand, shows a clear commitment to consolidation and reliance on advertising revenue as a single source of income for the station. To the extent that this station relies on a single source of income and does not demonstrate any strategic objective of diversifying sources, the writer submits, it is building a "brick column". The basic assumption of this study is that while the challenge of sustainability constitutes an objective reality facing community radio stations in South Africa today, the subjective responses developed by station management to deal with this challenge can and often do make a difference.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Gemeenskapsradiostasies in Suid-Afrika staan voor 'n groot uitdaging om volhoubaar te ontwikkel. Volhoubaarheid as sulks is kompleks en word deur 'n verskeidenheid faktore beinvloed. Dit sluit in gemeenskapsdeelname, befondsing, regulerings- en lisensierinqsfaktore, personeel- en bestuursvernuf en die strategiese beplanning en bestuurskapasiteit van die stasie. Meestal is die gemeenskappe self arm en nie daartoe in staat om in rnonetere terme 'n bydrae tot die stasie te lewer nie. Dieselfde gemeenskappe is egter ook 'n bron van rykdom in terme van ondervinding, idees, mannekrag en tyd. Een van 'n stasiebestuur se grootste uitdagings is om organisatoriese strateqiee te ontwikkel wat die volle gebruik van die gemeenskapshulpbron sal fasiliteer in die proses om hul stasies volhoubaar te ontwikkel. Die fokus van die studie val op twee stasies in die Wes-Kaap - Bush Radio en Radio Zibonele - en hoe hul bestuur op die uitdaging van volhoubare ontwikkeling reageer. Bush Radio het 'n diversifiseringstrategie ontwikkel wat op formele onderig en ontwikkeling as 'n inkomstegenereerder gebaseer is. Radio Zibonele, daarenteen, konsentreer op adverteerders. Die werk beskryf die volhoubaarheidstrategiee elk van die radiostasies. Die gevolgtrekking word gemaak dat albei radiostasies wei verskillende grade van gemeenskapsbetrokkenheid, duidelike interne monitorsisteme en beheer van hulpbronne het. Tog verskil hulle ten opsigte van sekere fundamentele strategiee. Aan die een kant het Bush Radio 'n duidelike verbintenis tot 'n bewustelike diversifisering van inkomste op so 'n manier dat die stasie nie afhanklik is van een bron van inkomste nie. Die skrywer vergelyk dit met die bou van 'n "baksteenmuur". Radio Zibonele, aan die ander kant, is verbind tot advertensies as die enigste bron van inkomste. Aangesien die stasie op 'n enkele bron van inkomste vertrou en nie enige strategiese doelwitle vir die diversifisering van hulpbronne het nie, vergelyk die skrywer dit met die bou van 'n "baksteenpilaar" . Die basiese veronderstelling van die studie is dat die reaksie van die stasiebestuur In deurslaggerwende verskil kan maak om die uitdaging van volhoubare ontwikkeling Suid- Afrikaanse radiostasies die hoof te bied.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/52153
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