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Hearing the voice of your listener

Originally posted on © Find out more about our Radio Days Africa 2019 experience.

Radio Tomorrow with James Cridland

Johannesburg, South Africa, is a place like no other to hold a radio conference, and I was privileged to be at Radiodays Africa recently on their tenth anniversary.

Radio is an important part of life in Africa generally. Radio reaches people who cannot read or write; and plays the part of an educator in many parts of the continent.

Here’s the excellent Steve Martin from the BBC talking about radio in Africa from 2013. It’s a good overview in how progressive African radio stations are, as well as how they think about radio in a different way to many of us.

But radio in Africa is also, partially, stations like 94.7 in Johannesburg (tagline: “You love Johannesburg – we love you”), who sound as polished as the big top 40 stations you’d hear elsewhere.

However, it was Bérard Duprès from the Seychelles Broadcasting Company that got me thinking a little. He began by explaining where the Seychelles were – they’re here in case you didn’t know – and spoke about the stations that the SBC run.

One of the things Bérard showed was the radio station’s app. Obviously you can listen to the radio station on it, but you can also send a voice message to the station in high quality audio. The station uses a product called Fabrik, made in South Africa, which acts as a kind of private WhatsApp for the station, who are then able to edit and broadcast the messages. It’s a simple and straightforward way to get more voices on the air.

They’re not alone. Radio X in the UK is using a rather less private WhatsApp – well, they’re using WhatApp itself – to get messages into the studio for Chris Moyles. And they seem to be having great fun with it, even if most of the callers want just to say the word willy and bum.

For radio stations everywhere, though, services like this makes it really easy to remain real and relevant to your audience. For SBC, who run radio stations that broadcast to over a hundred different islands off the coast of East Africa, it’s a great way to hear directly from your audience.

For Radio X, it’s a very good way to hear them swear at you.

Getting proper, decent audience audio on the air has never been easier. If you don’t have this function in your radio app – what’s stopping you?

About The Author James Cridland, the radio futurologist, is a conference speaker, writer and consultant. He runs the media information website and helps organise the yearly Next Radio conference. He also publishes, a daily briefing on podcasting and on-demand, and writes a weekly international radio trends newsletter, at

Contact James at or @jamescridland

Photograph of Bérard Duprès: @RadioDaysAfrica


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