“I hear there are some new radio stations that have come on board that think they can topple us . . .” Power FM clown DJ Dr Zobha says to his co-presenters in his husky voice, of course speaking in his trademark street lingo.
“But we are the best in this business and we will forever be the best,” he adds, still using the same voice, tone and language, before playing the late Tongai Moyo’s hit song “Muchina Muhombe”, a song where the late Moyo was declaring himself as the finest and warning his adversaries or rather competitors that the road to stardom was not an easy one.
This has become the norm with radio presenters on the three radio stations — Star FM, ZiFM and Power FM — who are in direct competition for listeners as young and not-so-young presenters take a dig at each other, trying to portray themselves as the best.
While the radio stations compete all week, 24 hours a day, the real action is limited to just a few slots.
All three radio stations have put their “best” presenters on the breakfast shows (6am to 9am), lunchtime show (12pm to 3pm) and the drive time slot (3pm to 6pm).
Take, for instance, the breakfast shows — Comfort Mbofana and his team of Bongai Zamchiya and Black Bird go head-to-head with ZiFM’s Tonderai and Tinopona Katsande (nephew and aunt), and the
Power FM team of Zobha, Rumbi Moyo, Rumbi Chamvari and Brighton Chitanha.
Then there are the lunchtime shows, which see the experienced Munyaradzi “DJ Munya” Milimo on the decks for Star FM featuring some club DJs, L-Roy and Davies Mugadza, holding it down for Power FM and Tony Friday holding fort for ZiFM.
The drive time show has its big guns as well, with returnee Delani Makhalima of ZiFM, Tich Mataz of Star FM and DJ Squilla of Power FM battling for listeners.
With the Zimbabwe All Media Products Survey (Zamps) roughly a fortnight away, the dog-eat-dog situation on the airwaves is getting intriguing.
Surveys by Zamps, which are published by the Zimbabwe Advertising Research Foundation (Zarf), have often sparked vigorous bouts of partisan bragging in the daily newspaper market. With the coming on board of two new stations on the frequency modulation (FM) spectrum, radio listenership is under the spotlight.
Zamps conducts market research on behalf of advertisers, the media, publishers, advertising agencies and public relations firms.
ZiFM’s programmes manager Hosea Singende believes his team is world class.
“Our presenters do not take digs at anyone but just say the facts because they know that their radio station has international standards but respects being Zimbabwean and that they are dealing with a unique Zimbabwean audience,” said Singende.
The pint-sized DJ says he eagerly awaits any survey that may be published in the short term as he respects what the people of Zimbabwe have to say.
“We are on air because we want to serve the public. They should be the judges and I believe this will be very interesting as it will see everyone being on their toes rather than the sit-back-and-relax caused by lack of competition,” he said.
Sivukile Simango, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings spokesperson, said it was “unfortunate that some DJs want to make the situation appear like they are at war with other radio stations”.
“It is everywhere really. This is not found only in Zimbabwe but worldwide as well. DJs, like footballers or musicians and even journalists, will always take jibes at each other — that is the industry we are in. You cannot really stop them, you know, but it is not our policy as a station to behave that way,” said Simango.
Simango also took the opportunity to take a swipe at Zamps, whom he said was not all-encompassing as it does not reach all parts of Zimbabwe during its surveys. Collin Moxham of Zamps strongly refuted this allegation.
Said Simango: “How can we be compared with radio stations that are only accessible in a few towns and cities when we have Power FM and Radio Zimbabwe that have coverage of 100 percent?”
“Our phone-in programmes come from as far as Musina, but then these survey guys when they say they have gone deep into the country, they would be talking about Domboshawa. Can you imagine?” queried Simango, before adding “we are the big brother in the broadcasting industry and we intend to stay like that.”
Moxham, an official at Zamps, defended his survey, saying they use tried and tested internationally recognised methods to acquire their data.
“This is science, not guesswork, otherwise, we would have been out of business a long time ago,” he quipped.
Star FM’s head of programming Tich Mataz said he did not blame his DJs for thinking that they are better than everyone else in the industry as it is a “team of stars”.
“Our edge over the competitors is that we have the best personnel who have made it not just locally but oversees as well. When I listen to the breakfast team of Comfort, Zamchiya and Black Bird, I can’t help but marvel because they are unbeatable — they are simply the best there is.
“Business is coming our way, important people want to be on our programmes, yet we continue to strive to be fully representative and looking to create a better product for Zimbabweans with each passing day,” said Mataz.
On the upcoming Zamps, Mataz said the survey was an important yardstick that would help them position themselves properly.
“The surveys will help us know our weak points while we also concentrate on being the best that we can be. We strive to be the market leaders,” he said.
The Sunday Mail Leisure visited the leading social networking site Facebook to gauge people’s candid views and comments, where it emerged that Zimbabweans have welcomed the expanded choices pre
sented by the coming on board of Star FM and ZiFM.
The comments also proved that the culture of listening to the radio rather than playing CDs has indeed returned to Zimbabwe. People across social divides listen to not only the three stations under the spotlight but others enjoy ZBC’s National FM, Radio Zimbabwe and SFM.
Others criticised some presenters on the two new stations — ZiFM and Star FM — for being “artificial” in using accents that are alien to Zimbabweans.
Then there was also the issue of the new radio stations trying to mix both Shona and English presenters on the same programmes — something described as “not working”. In general, radio’s utulity value is shifting, with many listeners agreeing that radio was now more of a debate and discussion platform than a mere music player.