The Power of Audience in Asserting Senses of Belonging and Cultural Ownership: The Case of Motsweding FM
Author: Kgomotso Theledi (The University of Witwatersrand, South Africa)
Speaker: Kgomotso Theledi
Topic: Language, Community, Ethnicity
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session
This paper examines the power of the audience in asserting a sense of belonging and cultural ownership in their cultural sensitivity of who is to be a presenter at Motsweding FM in an African context. The purpose is to understand the issue of language in a democratic and transformational era that imposes challenges on society, audience, and management. The paper argues that African audience voices have been silenced since the colonial era. A group of SABC radio station Motsweding FM’s audience marched to the public broadcaster in Mafikeng to demand the renewal of presenters’ contracts and to fire the station manager of Motsweding FM. These presenters were to be replaced with television actors who have never been known to be advocates for the language. The audience complained that the radio station was no longer preserving Setswana as its sole mandatory broadcasting language and was recruiting non-Setswana-speaking presenters under the pretense of addressing dialects. However, community radio stations were there to address dialects. The paper moves from a critical evaluation of past listening habits and participation and contemporary trends whereby audiences have been emboldened to question the decisions of radio managers on the direction of the radio station. In conclusion, the power of the African audience in media is unavoidable, if the manager does not set a target with their audience in mind, then their actions are perceived as violating audience culture and language. The audience of Motsweding FM valued this radio station as a platform that was meant to promote language and ethnic African culture for millions of listeners. This is within the Afrocentricity paradigm that ensures that society has a role to play in protecting and promoting the language of the people. In terms of methodology and content analysis, secondary data must be explored by a qualitative method to examine the influence of the audience on popular media and the challenges faced by radio station management. It would seem in Africa, language defines audiences, and this point has come to light in a recent spat between Setswana listeners of Motsweding FM and the management of Motsweding FM.
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Keywords: audience, public broadcast, Setswana, management, Afrocentric.