The power of community radio on youth development

BY BEN NELUVHALANI, August 16, 2017

Approximately one third of South Africa’s population lives in rural areas with minimal infrastructure development and employment opportunities. Youth, in particular, face challenges ranging from rampant unemployment to a significantly higher cost of tertiary education when compared to other, more developed, nations.

Ntebo Mohlala (left) and Mande Tjaro (right), host a pop-up radio show at the Duke Menell Media Exchange conference 2017. Photo courtesy/Ben Neluvhalani

Community youth radio, such as the Children’s Radio Foundation, is providing a platform for young South Africans to tell their stories in an open, informative and interactive space. Through the (CRF) previously disadvantaged communities can communicate with one another.

Jacqueline van Meygaarden, CRF Communications Coordinator, says community radio helps youth actively engage in issues that affect their lives.

“We work in six African countries and we have brought some young people from two of our sites in South Africa, Alex FM (in Alexander) and Mams FM (Mamelodi),” she says. “They are here (at the Duke Menell Media Exchange) hosting the pop-up radio station.”

“It gives them the opportunity to talk and bring people in for a conversation, as well as tell local stories related to the youth, presented by the youth to the youth,” says van Meygaarden.

Mande Tjaro and Ntebo Mohlala both work as presenters at Mams FM and are examples of how community radio can bring about changes in both individuals and the communities in which they work.

Tjaro says she is hopeful of the lasting benefit open debate can produce.

“For instance, if there is an emergency in the community, the first thing that comes to their mind is Mams FM because they trust the station,” she says. “Most times when you go to the community police station, they are not as supportive of the issues of the community but Mams FM is a place where everyone who wants help can go to for support.”

Mohlala says community radio has had a positive impact on her own life.

“It has been my dream to become a radio presenter but I did not have a platform,” she says. “Mams FM elevated me to a better life: I have confidence and I can communicate with people better.”

The power to positively influence youth in under-developed areas is one important component of collaborative debate community radio provides.

“CRF helped us as young reporters and pulled us away from negative things in the community, CRF gave us an opportunity to reach our goals,” says Mohlala.

Community radio not only breaks down the walls of prejudice, like social status and gender, but also promotes equal opportunity, she says. “We come from rural areas and some of us come from urban radio. But it does not matter on air – it gives us a platform to communicate on an equal level.”

Activate radio is a national network of more than 200 young leaders connected by a common desire to contribute to a better South Africa and provides a medium of communication between different communities.

Ricardo Simon, presenter for Radio Namakwaland, based in Springbok, Northern Cape, is very optimistic of youth participation in community radio stations across the country, mostly in remote locations. Ricardo’s views on community radios in South Africa are as progressive as his open-minded personality.

“Community radio is the way forward because it is a tool that connects us with the community,” he says. “It is also a tool that really empowers us as youth.”

Palesa Mmesi, a presenter for Gold FM presenter, in Welkom in the Free State, says she is optimistic about the impact community radio has on the youth.

“With community radio stations, we touch base with our respective communities because we have to deal with local issues,” says Mmesi. “We act as a bridge between what the local government projects and what the community receives, we are the middleman.”

In rural areas, issues like teenage pregnancy and unemployment are not exposed because youth are unwilling to speak out, she says. This needed to change.

The influence that community radio can have on youth development is undeniable. And the positive impact of active participation in an open and safe space is just one of the many benefits community radio has on the country’s youth population – advantages that can help propel communities to greater heights.

Iman Rappetti on Truth and Trust


Video/Mathama Bility

“Truth and Trust are really the bedrock of what we do as journalists,” said Iman Rappetti, former senior eNCA news reporter.

Rappetti was the emcee of the two-day Duke Menell Media Exchange conference that attracted many South African journalists and media experts.

The event is extremely important because any gathering where you get journalists sharing their collective experiences and wisdom is an opportunity to talk about the challenges that they face, she said. The conference reminds journalists and media practitioners of the importance of truth and trust and that all their efforts should be compassed back to these points.

Rappetti, an award winning journalist and entrepreneur, started off as a young journalist in South Africa. She converted to the Islamic faith and moving to the Islamic Republic of Iran, where she lived for two years and she worked on a current affairs show for Iranian public broadcasting.

She returned to South Africa and worked as a sub and layout editor before becoming the senior reported on Radio 702. Most recently, she resigned from her job as the senior reporter at eNCA and is a the host of Power Talk at Power FM, a daily talk show which focuses on current national issues.