What is happening in the SA radio landscape

Published on Friday, 18 July 2014 by Richard Lord in Technology

Having spent the better part of two years working at the RAB in the UK in the early to mid-2000s it always surprised me that radio as a media type was not particularly well supported by UK advertisers. It was a rather difficult sell and as a result, radio in the UK was only a 3% medium at the time. I recently read that radio's share had grown to 5.5% of all media in the UK, and this got me thinking…how is radio in South Africa doing by comparison? Radio has always been an accepted part of the mainstream in SA and convincing clients to use radio as a part of their media mix has never been particularly difficult.

So what are the latest stats and figures for radio in South Africa?

The June radio diaries (RAMS 2014/2) have recently been released, and once again we can see that South African radio is looking very healthy indeed.

The total past 7 day radio audience has grown by almost 6% year on year. That's an increase of around 1.9 million people! In addition, advertisers continue to find value in the medium...with its share of the media pie sitting stable at just over 15% for the latest measured 12 month period. This excludes all self-promotion i.e. what the TV and radio stations “spend” own their own platforms, advertising their own programmes.

Time spent listening has also remained stable with the average South African listening to the radio for three and a half hours per day. Put this in the context of a 24 hour day, where we spend around 8 hours sleeping - it means that radio accounts for 22% of our waking time! This is excellent news for advertisers as it entrenches radio’s stronghold as the frequency medium. It also shows us that despite the sometimes overwhelming media choices available to people, they are still choosing to listen to the radio. The province with the most time on their hands for listening to the radio…the Free State with 4h15 per day. The province who listened the least? The Western Cape with only 2h52 per day!

Station loyalty remains high with the average person only listening to 2.0 stations per week on a national basis. This very nicely demonstrates radio second core benefit as an advertising medium - low advertising avoidance. In fact we know that ad avoidance on radio is lower than in any other media type, save for cinema where the ads are a part of the cinema going experience. The Western Cape were the most loyal listeners, listening to an average 1.7 stations per week, whilst Gauteng were the least loyal, listening to 2.3 stations per week - bearing in mind that people in Gauteng do have more choice!

And where are people listening? Well 93% of listening takes place at home, with 15% in a car and 9% at work (duplicated obviously). This means that radio gives advertisers the ability to talk to people in their own personal and intimate spaces, demonstrating radio’s third key benefit to advertiser - listeners have and incredibly close personal bond with "their" radio station. This is a very powerful thing for a brand to tap into and to leverage!

Who were the winners and losers in this diary period?


Vuma FM: +23.2%

Power FM: +16.5%

Cape Talk: +9.3%

Phalaphala FM: +7.8%

OFM: +4.3%


Classic FM: -14.4%

Smile FM: -12.9%

Radio Pulpit: -8.7%

SAFM: -8.2%

North West FM: -6.1%

So what are the top 5 stations in terms of overall audience in South Africa?

Ukhozi FM: 7.623 million listeners making it the world’s 2nd largest station!

Metro FM: 6.309 million

Umhlobo Wenene: 4.467 million

Lesedi FM: 3.968 million

Thobela FM: 3.335 million

And what about the NKOTB (that's "new kids on the block" for those of you that didn't grow up in the 80s)…

Vuma FM: 175,000 listeners in the past 7 days

Power FM: 106,000 listeners

Smile FM: 27,000 listeners

So all in all, radio in South Africa continues to attract very large audiences and continues to add value to advertisers' media plans!

Last modified onThursday, 15 June 2017 15:34