I got 90% problems…

…and the SABC is behind all of them.

SABC COO, Zuma stooge and media clown Hlaudi Motsoeneng recently decreed that all SABC radio stations would now have to abide by a new local music quota. This populist move brought SA into line with other international broadcasting behemoths like Canada, Mexico, the Philippines and Jamaica. The only difference is that those national broadcasters chose what many considered to be reasonable quotas – maybe between 30% and 60%. But Hlaudi almost went full North Korea, insisting that 90% of the music played on SABC radio stations would have to be locally produced.

Don’t get me wrong. I do understand the reasoning behind a) The local content rule and b) The ridiculously high percentage Hlaudi chose. (It’s ‘trying to assist the local music business’ and ‘because he’s a desperate, populist goon who hasn’t got a sodding clue what he’s doing, save for serving his allegedly (but almost certainly) corrupt boss like the pathetically weak, pointless, trivial, obsequious lickspittle that he is’, for those of you at the back who are struggling to keep up.)
There’s even a pisspoor song with a cringeworthy video thanking the SABC and all-round professional brown-noser Motsoeneng for the wonderful new quota:

Sweet baby cheeses.

The choice of radio station in the laboratory is 5fm – a national popular music station run by the SABC. It’s generally middle of the road stuff, fairly meh, but equally fairly inoffensive. There’s no Afrikaans, not too much talk, and it’s neither Death Metal, nor RnB-orientated. It’s not full of god-botherers. It’s a decent compromise. Or rather, it was.

Previously, 5fm used to play a mix of local and international music. It wasn’t something I’d particularly concentrated on back then, because it just worked. I’m recalling that it probably looked (sounded?) something like this:

  • Best of Local Music
    Best of International Music

But then, in May, in came Hlaudi’s ridiculous 90% rule, and now the playlist is formulated more like this:

  • Best of Local Music
    Rest of Local Music

If Hlaudi wanted to introduce us to more local stuff, then well done, he did. If he wanted to increase sales, that’s failed badly. I’m now more convinced than ever that a lot of local music is actually dreadful. And in order to make sure that the best stuff is played, it’s played in every show. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that there was always a pool of songs which was played in every show, but this pool now seems to be smaller, and the extra space is filled up with local crap.

I do get that musical taste is subjective, but the reaction to this 90% change has been generally negative, and it’s widely expected that listenership figures will drop. Anywhere else, this would be an issue, but that’s not how Hlaudi works – he just gets more money from government, who get more money from taxpayers. Insult to injury, anyone?

And yes, we could look (listen?) elsewhere, but there’s nothing that works quite as well as the old 5fm did, otherwise we’d have been listening there instead. There was a niche that it occupied, which was why we went there. It’s gone.

I wonder what the DJs think about this. Obviously, those who have commented on it have commented positively. Given the way Hlaudi operates, you can understand why you might not want to publicly express dissent at any part of his Glorious Masterplan.

I’m not employed by Hlaudi’s organisation though, so I can tell you that it’s shit.

Caviar Dreams

The 5fm Xperia MashLab project has recently returned. The idea is that two diverse South African artists team up for one month and produce a track with as much (5fm) audience participation as possible – theme of song, ideas for video, lyrics etc. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

I think this one did:

It’s Cape Town artistes, Al Bairre and PHFat (check out their brilliant House of Clashes video here). And the video is interesting – despite the lass looking rather too similar to Noel Fielding when she pops her mask on.

As a Sony Xperia owner, I get sneak previews and soundbites from the various projects on my phone.

My only issue is that the different bands are always too nice to one another. Simperingly so. (On camera/microphone, at least.) Why no fighty fighty? Whatever happened to the overly emotional and dramatic artists’ temperament?

The end product might be what comes of a month’s hard work, but I still reckon most people will really be tuning in in the hope of a big fight in the intervening period.

Getting started on podcasts to avoid Grant Nash

Note: This post is mainly aimed at Android users, but obviously the podcasts suggested are available across all platforms.

With the surprise departure of Gareth Cliff from the 5fm Breakfast Show, you’ll have been hoping to find something nearly as good to occupy your morning drive to work. Sadly, until their “relaunch” at 5am on the fifth of the fifth (read: “We weren’t ready for this. At all.”) you’re certainly not going to get it, as Grant Nash, one eighth of the much-loved Grant and Anele duo* “fills in” for Cliff and the team.

No thanks.

I’ve decided to try podcasts, given that the other radio options are rather limited in desirability. And I should mention that we’re in SA here, where digital and satellite radio are as likely to be seen in the next few years as that hoverboard from Back to the Future. In addition, we’re still battling with the joint foes of Grant and Anele slow internet and high data costs, which means that, for many people, streaming – especially on mobile – is a non-starter.

Podcasts are things that I have previously pretty much ignored, but Gareth’s departure and Grant’s arrival twixt six and nine have pushed me to explore a bit. And it’s not (quite) as daunting as I had imagined.
Basically, all you need is a podcast manager app and a willingness to explore a bit.

For the former, I chose Podcast Addict [QR code], simply because it had the best reviews on the Play Store and I’ve already found that it’s pretty easy and intuitive to use. Also, it’s ad-driven, so it’s free (although if you find that you are going to be using it full-time, you can chuck R30 at the developer to lose the ads).
Next, I had to decide which podcasts to try. This is obviously a very personal thing, but the internet can help with some starting points: here, here and here, for example. I looked at some comedy, some topical stuff and some educayshonel things. It’s worth noting that the BBC has a HUGE repository of podcasts on just about every subject. The only downside is that almost everything involving music can only be downloaded in the UK, because of copyright laws. And yes, I’m well aware that there are ways around this, but that’s your indaba, innit.

Something else I found were video podcasts. Hundreds of them. This might not suit though, because a) bandwidth and b) driving. However, if you have unlimited data and/or cash and you’re brave enough to take public transport, this could be for you. At two hours from Kenilworth to the Waterfront, God knows you’ll have the time to watch them. It’s worth noting that PodcastAddict’s search feature allows you to choose to look for audio, video or both. Typically, you’re looking at about 1MB per minute for most of the audio podcasts I’ve seen, so it’s “doable”.

So, what did I end up starting with? Here’s my list:

Frank Skinner on Absolute Radio
Alex Horne Breaks The News
Huw Stephens on BBC Radio 1 (unsigned artists and DIY labels = no copyright issues)
Justin Moorhouse About 30 Minutes, No More Than 45 and
A History of Britain In Numbers

I also tried Stuff You Should Know, but I thought that it was a bit rubbish.

Early days, sure, but I’ve enjoyed my journeys with my podcasts and I really don’t feel that I’m missing out on much given the live alternatives available. I’ll keep you informed and updated on how things are going.

Meanwhile, if you have any thoughts on this subject or have any podcasts that you want to suggest, then please let me know in the comments below.

* approximate calculation based on BMI.

Cape Town parties as Anele moves on…

CAPE TOWN: People partied in the streets of the Mother City until the early hours of this morning as news broke that DJ Anele Mdoda was to move from 5FM back to Highveld Stereo, following the ever-popular Sasha Martinengo out of the national broadcaster. Anele will be joining other hilarious celebrity presenters at Highveld such as the hilarious Darren “Whackhead” Simpson, best known for his hilarious phonecall pranks from the 1980’s.

Mdoda, three-quarters of the depressingly poor Grant and Anele afternoon show, acknowledged the announcement made by Highveld on twitter yesterday evening, prompting spontaneous celebrations as the news spread across the Western Cape.
Residents of Gauteng and surrounds were less happy as they moved from frying pan to fire: Anele’s new show will see her being more accessible to Johannesburg residents, but that was something that apparently left Capetonian reveller Tyrone Athlone unmoved:

I don’t care about them. Four years we’ve suffered. Four! But now, she’s out of our hair and off our airwaves. With the Gauteng e-toll reductions announced yesterday, we will be subsidising their roads. Well let me tell you, it’s already payback time. Revenge is a dish best served right now, Joburg.
See what you’ll have to listen to now as you pay your poxy 30 cents a kilometre. Karma is a bitch, hey?

Another drunken roisterer commented:

I haven’t partied this hard since we won the World Cup in 2007. Everything seemed to start going wrong in 2008 when Grant and Anele started on 5FM. You only have to look at how Bafana have been so poor and how the Boks didn’t win again in 2011. All that can change now. This is fantastic news for South Africa. Bring on April!

As 5FM announced that there would be a big announcement, probably announcing the announcement of an announcement, on March 1st, speculation was already rife as to the potential fate of Anele’s partner, Grant Nash.

There’s no way he can carry that show on his own. Have you seen him? I don’t think he could carry anything. He still has a Nokia 8210 because it’s the lightest phone he can find. He’s the perfect advertisement for a vegan lifestyle.

remarked another delighted radio listener, while tucking into a Heart Stopper™ Triple Stack Burger with Double Macon and Fried Egg at Mo’s Fast Food Caravan just off Long Street, his comments almost drowned out by the celebratory pealing of bells from surrounding churches.

A completely ficticious source at 5FM said:

Yes, we’ve lost Anele to Highveld – and that’s a bit of a coup for Primedia. Of course, we’re already looking into replacements. We don’t want to change things too much and it’s too early to say anything just yet, but the current forerunners to take over the afternoon show are a brick and a chunk of braaiwood. We just have to be careful not to lose the afternoon audience with a sudden hike in intellectual content.
We’re disappointed, obviously. If Anele had come to us and said that she wanted more time for lunch, we could have shifted our schedules accordingly. But they’re a privately-funded radio station and apparently they have a really great buffet there for the drivetime crew. We simply can’t compete with that at the SABC.

Primedia Broadcasting’s share price fell sharply this morning, though analysts were unable to tie this directly to the Mdoda announcement as many of them were still nursing hangovers from the last night’s celebrations.

Sasha Martinengo to leave 5fm – The (un)official press release

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There was much chatter yesterday on the social networks and then today came the confirmation that DJ Sasha Martinengo will be leaving 5FM at the end of March, after being with the station for 17 years. Here’s what their press release said (sort of):

5FM is sad to announce that, after 17 years on air, Sasha Martinengo will be leaving the station at the end of March 2012. The decision comes as part of the station’s annual line-up change, which takes place from 1 April 2012. Explains 5FM’s station manager Aisha Mohamed, “Line-up changes are an unfortunate part of the radio landscape. Annually, 5FM, along with the SABC’s 17 other radio properties, evaluate their on-air line-up for the year ahead and we are always careful to ensure that we implement these changes on April 1st each year. That’s how we managed to get Grant & Anele into the afternoon slot. Everyone thought it was just a sick April Fool’s joke, and by the time they realised that it was actually genuine, the contracts were signed and it was a done deal.”

“Sasha will unfortunately not be with us from April onwards. The change comes as part of a long-term strategic plan to revise our on air offering. From our extensive research, we’ve noted that many people are at work during working hours. If these workers are listening to the radio, they are less productive and as the national broadcaster, we feel that it’s important to improve national productivity in the interests of the country as a whole. As part of this plan, we are actively encouraging people to switch off their radios during the day and to do some work.”

Aisha continues, “So far, we’ve been extremely successful in cutting our listener numbers between 12 and 3pm, with an incredible 95% switch off rate – and we estimate that most of the remaining 5% would rather be doing anything other than listening to 5FM during those hours. From these figures, we can see that it is foolish to employ DJs with any talent or personality who people might actually listen to during the day. We are enormously appreciative of Sasha’s incredible work ethic, his dedication to the listeners and his support of the 5FM brand. He’s just too good at his job though and so he has to go. The station needs to evolve and change as our listeners do and we’re banking on engaging a more unfunny, brain-dead audience. He will be a hard act to follow and whoever replaces him in the studio will struggle enormously, as Grant & Anele have proven literally every day since starting here.”

Says Sasha, “Working at 5FM hasn’t just been a job, it’s been my life. I’d like to think I have entertained my listeners over the years. I have had a brilliant time and will miss my 5FM family. Thank you for all the years of fun and support.”

Newsreader Kim Schulze was also shocked at the news, “Comrades, the safety of the travelling public is the amongst the most important challenges we face and it is for this reaso…”

I’m sorry, that’s the incorrect soundbite.

Adds 5FM’s Aisha, “It has been absolutely wonderful working with Sasha. He’s been a huge asset to the 5FM team and we will miss him as an on-air personality and as a team player. But look out for news of an exciting new show with Grant & Anele from 9 until 3 each day. I bet you can’t wait, right?



(The genuine press release (some of which you may be able to pick out from the text above) is available here.)