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YFM is a youth thing

Maria McCloy : In your ear

‘How can the Independent Broadcasting Authority let such muck on air?” That was pretty much the response of older South Africans to a YFM DJ’s language – and to the station. There could be no better indication that the youth-driven station is definitely niched towards its youthful black market? In fact, YFM is said to be having a T-shirt made. It will be emblazoned with the words “Misleading the Youth” with the ‘Mis” crossed out so that it will read ” … leading the youth”.

Just listening to YFM it’s evident that the DJs are part of the target market. After all,where else would you have morning DJ Sammy T asking listeners to call in and tell him what kwaito artist Arthur was referring to in his song Zombo? Or DJ Phat Joe’s observations that “Mzwakhe was getting it up the butt”, after the recent arrest of the activist people’s poet.

Unlike the 40-plus DJs, playing music to a market with whom they are hopelessly out of touch, YFM’s DJs are the same age as their market. And as frighteningly low as this may be by the rest of world’s airwave standards, there are two female DJs on YFM slots – Phindi Gule hosting the Pleasure Dome between 9am and 12am and Zamo Shongwe between 2am and 6am – bodes well for the future of sisters on the local airwaves.

Overall, the DJs really talk the talk and play popular fast-paced rap, kwaito, d’gong, international house and R’n’B, as opposed to slow soul ‘n jazz.

But what about reggae and drum’n’bass? Why isn’t there music from the rest of Africa? In terms of music content, there is not much that differentiates one show from the other. And it’s too bad there are no talk shows on the station yet.

YFM offers the perfect opportunity for youth to talk among themselves in an unpatronising way about issues that affect their lives.

News editor Thandanani Dlamini says research shows clearly that young people want “wall to wall” music which is why the station is planning its talk shows carefully. But YFM does feature nine funky news bulletins every day presented by 20- somethings.

Paul Mnisi hosts the nightly (6pm to 10pm) Groove Kamikazee, a show worth listening to, but when he joins up with DJ Oscar Warona (of Brothers of Peace fame) on Rap Activity Jam, there is a lot of interaction with the audience. People come into the studio and rap. Listeners then call in and choose the winner.

On the same show there are artist interviews and even the competition is happy to take a seat behind its mike. On this show, Radio Metro’s Glen Lewis was in the studio talking about a rap group (Blacksmith) he manages. When Bob Mabena was there he rapped along with singers Lebo from Boom Shaka and Ntokozo, who had made an impromptu appearance. Even Skeem’s Ismael recently launched into a capella rap rendition on Rap Activity Jam.

And Gauteng’s youth definitely dig the station, judging by the rate people call in. Obviously they were also encouraged by the free CDs on offer every hour during the station’s first two months on air.

– YFM is found on 99.2FM in Gauteng

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