Making radio cool again

Radio is facing a challenging time. Listener numbers have fallen during the pandemic, advertising budgets have been cut, and streaming is luring audiences away from traditional radio.

Durban-based Immedia is now trying to breathe new life into radio through Fabrik – a set of digital tools which helps media companies live-stream shows and grow their audiences.

The platform is already used by many established radio stations, including Gagasi FM, Smile 90.4 FM, and YFM with positive results.

To further encourage the adoption of the platform, Immedia has launched a R10-million Digital Leap programme aimed at community radio stations and media entrepreneurs.

Through this programme Immedia will provide free Fabrik access to qualifying media entrepreneurs across Africa for a year.

These companies will also receive consultation, training, and support to help monetise the technology and their audiences.

Phil Molefe
Fabrik’s Phil Molefe

Phil Molefe, Fabrik’s head of business development and strategy, said the platform makes it possible for community media to thrive.

He said Fabrik helps media entrepreneurs by solving key challenges, which include:

  • Providing them with a mobile application that allows community and campus radio stations to live-stream shows and host podcasts.
  • Shifting to a cloud-based tool where radio stations get access to archiving and backup that is compliant with BCCSA and ICASA regulations.
  • Messaging functionality, including push notifications, to help radio stations to engage with their communities.
  • Encouraging listeners to register as a member and provide personal information. This helps stations to build audience profiles for their listeners.
  • Provide detailed analytics which helps to attract advertisers with better insights than traditional radio.

So far Fabrik has shown positive results.

Around 60% of users have an opt-in relationship with stations which makes it possible to serve highly relevant ads to listeners.

These targeted ads have a much better performance than other platforms. Where sales conversions on social media are around 2%, Fabrik users enjoy 8%.

Jonathan Lumley
Immedia’s Jonathan Lumley

Jonathan Lumley, head of clients, channels, and markets at Immedia, said the key to growth for community media companies is to build and leverage owned digital communities.

“For those with closed communities, it can result in growing your own private social network,” he said.

This is what Fabric offers media entrepreneurs and radio stations, making it easy to digitise, consolidate, and monetise their audiences.

Tamie Mbombo, head of marketing and PR at Izwi LoMzansi which is using Fabrik for its community radio station, said the platform has put them way ahead of their competitors.

20,000 of Izwi LoMzansi’s listeners have downloaded the station’s app on their smartphones and are now engaging with the station.

“These listeners are no longer reliant on the terrestrial radio signal to listen to us, and they now have a whole new platform to interact directly with presenters and advertisers,” he said.

“This is the sort of engagement that is meaningful to our listeners and it helps advertisers direct their spend very specifically.”

“Fabrik has brought us to the front of the starting line, in a race many are unaware is even being run.”

Now read: Crackdown on pirate radio stations in South Africa

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Making radio cool again