SAfm run like ‘community radio’, not a national station

The situation at the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s key news radio station, SAfm, is allegedly so bad that employees are writing anonymous emails of complaint to SABC chief executive Madoda Mxakwe.

One email, seen by the Mail & Guardian, said: “I would like to bring very disturbing matters concerning SAfm, the situation there does not seem to be improving due to the leadership vacuum that is incessant.” The station has had three acting managers.

The email continued: “The staff morale is down and to be honest Mr Mxakwe we are tired of the bad, unstable leadership we’ve had to endure for the last three years.”

The churn started in 2017, after the resignation of then station manager Dennis O’Donnell. The letter says he had joined SAfm in 1995 and took over as manager in 2007.

According to sources with intimate details on what is going on at the talk radio station, SAfm has been operating like a “community radio station” since O’Donnell’s resignation, with different people being brought in to take on the role of station manager.

One source said one of these manager had abused his power by doing things such as bringing a steady stream of women into his office, with the insinuation that this carries.

And when these managers did resign, it would be under mysterious circumstances.

The email pointed to the importance of SAfm as the national news service and its low listenership: “A national station with under 200 000 listeners is quite a disgrace.”

As a solution, the email writer suggested the path taken to transform SABC News: “The station needs managers from outside of the SABC whose business is to lead and motivate staff to perform to the best of their ability, the kind of leadership that SABC News has in Phathiswa Magopeni.”

A freelance producer at the station, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said SAfm has problems. “There are indeed issues at the station that are being kept under wraps. Some of those include employees doing as they please at the station and this affects how things run.”

SABC’s spokesperson, Mmoni Seapolelo, denied knowledge of low staff morale at the station.

“The corporation has used its policies and internal processes to place suitably skilled and qualified personnel to lead SAfm on an acting basis, as it did with the other five radio stations that did not have station managers last year.”

This, she said, came with a “lengthy recruitment moratorium” between 2018 and 2019. “When the moratorium was lifted at the end of last year, the recruitment process for the station manager of SAfm commenced and a suitable candidate is yet to be identified.”

Seapolelo added: “The SABC can confirm that the current listenership of SAfm is 193000. This signifies a 30% growth in the last three years”.

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Chris Gilili
Chris Gilili is a climate and environmental journalist at the Mail & Guardian’s environmental unit, covering socioeconomic issues and general news. Previously, he was a fellow at amaBhungane, the centre for investigative journalism.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

Tutu Puoane back on the South African stage after two...

She may have left South Africa more than 20 years ago, but this jazz singer is still firmly rooted in her heritage

Pandor: Blinken did not come to tell SA to choose...

The US secretary of state said that when one country invades another country, sovereignty and independence mattered

Emerging technologies show a clear pathway to ending the age...

We have all the tools we need to usher in a new era of superabundance but we need to ditch dying industries such as fossil fuel and livestock fast

Malibongwe festival returns with a tribute to women

Female artists celebrate Women’s Day and their achievements in the music world
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×