Under apartheid, South Africa had only two independent radio stations. With the deregulation of broadcasting in the late 1990s, the number of commercial stations operating outside of state control proliferated.
In 1996 six lucrative SABC stations were privatised: Gauteng's Highveld Stereo and Radio Jacaranda, KwaZulu-Natal's East Coast Radio, the Western Cape's KFM, the Eastern Cape's Radio Algoa and the Free State's OFM. The government raised over R500-million as the stations were licensed to various black-controlled groups.
In early 1997 eight new commercial radio licences were granted for broadcasting in South Africa's three biggest cities - Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
Applicants targeting black audiences with new formats were generally favoured, with two "smooth jazz" licences, Heart 104.9 in Cape Town and Igagasi 99.5 in Durban; one urban youth station, YFM; and one urban contemporary station, Kaya FM. The remaining four licences went to an English-language talk station, Cape Talk; two Afrikaans talk stations, Punt in Cape Town and Durban; and a classical music station, Classic FM.
Broadcast in English, Metro FM is the largest national commercial station in South Africa, targeting 25- to 34-year-old black urban adults - who its owner the SABC describes as "trendy, innovative, progressive and aspirational". While the station does have some information and educational aspects, the focus is firmly on contemporary international music - hip-hop, R&B, kwaito and more.
One of the largest independent commercial stations and also broadcasting in Gauteng, Jacaranda offers a mix of more easy-listening adult contemporary music and news.
East Coast broadcasts a mix of music and news to Durban and throughout KwaZulu-Natal.
Home of Kwaito and the "Y Generation", Y is the country's most popular youth station. Yfm has a self-imposed 50% local music quota - more than any other radio station in the country. It works in partnership with New York-based Masters At Work, who have released SA artists into the US and Europe as part of YFM's ongoing commitment to South African music and culture.
The SABC's trendy youth-oriented station, 5FM's emphasis is on the latest music, movies and South African youth trends. Broadcasting in English to South Africa's metropolitan areas, its music styles are international, and include a strong component of South African artists of world standard.
Popular home of Jeremy Mansfield's Rude Awakening, Highveld Stereo broadcasts a mix of contemporary music throughout Gauteng. It is owned by Primedia.
Kaya FM provides an African-focused adult contemporary and jazz format, with a mix of music and talk. One of the country's newest radio stations, Kaya broadcasts throughout Gauteng.
Cape Town's largest radio station, the SABC's Good Hope FM plays contemporary music ranging from R&B, ballads and pop through to hip hop, dance, jazz and old school. With a broadcast footprint covering metropolitan Cape Town, Langebaan, Malmesbury, Wellington, Paarl, Franchhoek, Stellenbosch and Gordon's Bay, it targets the 22- to 32-year-old age group.
Algoa FM's music and news is broadcast to the entire Eastern Cape region.
702 Talk Radio is Johannesburg's number-one current affairs and information station, offering news, sport, business and actuality programming - and lots of phone-in debate. Established in 1980, it was initially a youth music station, moving to the more adult talk format in 1988. During the apartheid era it was the only independent source of broadcast news. The station is owned by Primedia.
567 Medium Wave Cape Talk is Cape Town's first ever talk radio station. Twinned with Johannesburg stalwart 702 Talk Radio, Cape Talk promises to bring you all the news, views, sport, weather, traffic and information you need. It is owned by Primedia.
Based on the UK station, Classic FM has been broadcasting classical music throughout Gauteng since September 1997. Through their partnership with Business Day, the station offers in-depth business coverage each week night from 6pm. There are also lifestyle features, news, financial updates, sport, and interviews with local artists and composers.
For the "best hits and memories", Kfm broadcasts adult contemporary music in the Western Cape and as far afield as Alexander Bay and the Northern Cape. It is owned by Primedia.
The commercial regional station of the Free State (a province with the name Orange Free State before 1994, hence the O), OFM broadcasts adult contemporary music.
To the listener, Radio 2000 is a laid back and non-intrusive radio station. Radio 2000, being a facility station, relies heavily on sports broadcasts. The result is that its listenership fluctuates, since it is often based on national and international sports events.
The international radio service of the SABC offers a multilingual source of information on Africa - with news, music and sports. Broadcasts are in Chinyanja, Silozi, Kiswahili, English, French and Portuguese, with shortwave broadcasts covering south, east, central and west Africa, satellite broadcasts covering the sub-Saharan region - and internet broadcasts covering the entire world.
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