Power of pink radio

Maria McCloy

Every time you ask anyone in the broadcasting world whether they know of any gay-oriented shows on South African airwaves, chances are they’ll refer you to In The Pink, a weekly programme on Cape community radio station Bush Radio. The show runs on Thursday nights between 8pm and 10pm.

“It’s the only gay, lesbian programme in Africa that runs regularly,” says Bush Radio’s Station Manager Zane Ibrahim. Headed by Patrick Solomons and Lucinda Jolly, the show has a magazine format with inserts from South Africa and around the world dealing with issues affecting the gay community

Bush Radio mainly reaches the Cape Flats audience. Although Solomons is displeased with the fact that Cape Town is divided into different townships, Bush Radio is trying to broaden its constituency by including diverse anchors and focusing on broader issues, stories and concerns.”

Since its inception two years ago, the show hasn’t received a single negative response, according to Ibrahim. “We’re cutting-edge radio, we’ve got courage, and we’re a radio station that represents the formerly voiceless. Even homophobics agree that gays and lesbians should have a voice.”

In many respects, In the Pink is a pioneer in gay radio. Writer and Mail & Guardian literary critic Shaun de Waal used to host a three-hour show every Friday on Gauteng’s Radio 702. But with recent changes at the station it was pulled.

And last year SAfm’s plans for a gay slot were shelved due to bureaucracy and internal squabbles at the time. But Tony Lancaster, who is in charge of its magazine programmes, says plans for such a show have not been abandoned.

He believes that advertisers are beginning to wake up to “the power of the pink rand”.

This means that the future for gay radio stations is looking distinctly healthier, particularly with the forthcoming launch of Pride Radio, a 24-hour music and talk channel.

With satellite discs costing around R190 a month, Pride is hoping sponsors will back it by providing black gay clubs and shebeens with satellite discs so it won’t be catering for a privileged audience. Pride also aims to make its programmes as diverse as possible.

Madeleine Rose, editor of the gay magazine Outright, thinks such shows “are vital to normalise homosexuality and to show that being gay is neither un-African, nor ungodly”.

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