What do Gauteng media consumers want? Nikki Temkin reveals the media desires of this diverse group.
The average Gautenger, or Gautie, loves to hear and read about Oscar Pistorius. Although the province has the most diverse population in the country and interests vary greatly, we all want to hear about national news, particularly when a sporting icon falls from grace.
Those of us who live in the ‘Big Smoke’ are generally an educated and tech-savvy sector of the population with high demands and we are gleaning more information online. Entrenched in the rat race, Gauties are inundated by information from various digital media sources. There’s simply no time to waste reading or listening to information that’s not relevant or interesting to us.
Post-1994 saw the biggest drop in circulation of print media. Publications and radio stations have needed to stay relevant or create something entirely new for a more demanding audience than ever before.
How are they managing to do this?
“First and foremost our readers want credible news,” says Zarko Jevitc, marketing manager for The Citizen newspaper. “We cater for our readers’ special interests, such as sport, entertainment, horseracing, gaming, motoring, business/finance and technology, through various sections in the paper. The Citizen reader is primarily a black affluent male between 35 and 49 years old, in LSM bracket 8-10 with an average household income of R18 774 and an average individual income of R11 469. AMPS 2012 indicated increases in black readership and affluence of the readers.”
Over the last five years, quick-read publications catering for the busy Gautie have emerged. Launched in 2008, a tabloid-sized morning newspaper, The Times, is delivered to just over
91 000 subscribers on weekdays. The Times is sold on the streets of Gauteng and in selected retail outlets, as well as delivered free to Sunday Times subscribers. It navigates its busy readers through their day in a clear and simple way. The Times’ circulation is 146 956 (ABC Q4). Its readership is 342 000 and online traffic offers 578 000 unique users and 5 026 621 page impressions, according to in-house research. The average age of The Times reader is 39 and four out of five readers are in LSM 7-10. For nine out of 10 of these people, The Times is their first read of the day before they leave for work. According to this same research, “They look forward to reading their newspapers, relying on it to keep them informed, and using the content for conversation with family and friends. Readers maintain a good balance between work and leisure, place high value on spending time with family and trust advertising as a useful source of information.”
The Times is the first interactive, integrated digital print medium with the aim of breaking news, following the big story of the day, but with multimedia offerings. The newspaper’s acting editor Dominic Mahlangu says, “Gauteng readers want key news that affects them directly. Our audience is on the move. Gauteng is the leader in online penetration. The readers have internet access, tablets and are connected at home. They know what’s happening but need the paper as a guide. We know we can’t cover everything so it’s the best news of the day.”
Makhudu Sefara, editor of The Star, confirms that Gauteng readers are interested in a myriad of topics and are extremely tech-savvy. “They have an insatiable appetite for exclusives, real politick and beautifully-written human interest stories. They relish a big national story told well… (and) many people out there know The Star as a paper not merely to trust, but a paper with a big story temperament. They know The Star will research it and tell it better than the rest.”
Sefara explains that rather than interests having changed, it’s more the manner in which stories are told that has evolved. Graphics, locator maps, timelines and other storytelling devices now accompany the main stories in The Star. “To achieve this, graphic artists, photographers and reporters must work as units. This treatment has become hugely popular with readers,” he says.
In general, Gauties show an interest in personal finance, health and lifestyle, technology, jobs and career development, and, selectively, an interest in community news. The idea that a publication is low quality because it is free has been ousted with quality products like The Gazette. A weekly community paper popped into postboxes around the city, the paper offers extremely localised content to each suburb. Gazette group editor Kennedy Mudzuli affirms that readers love stories about animals, property development, basic service delivery, lifestyle (shopping and movies) and the environment.
Kym Argo, editor of another free product, GET IT, agrees. The most popular pages of this magazine are about personalities, food (recipes and restaurants), shopping (aspirational and affordable), local travel and décor. Readers also want to know about new spots and best-kept secrets in their neighborhood. Produced individually for each specific area of Gauteng, GET IT Jo’burg North prints 30 000 copies for the glam, well-heeled residents of the ‘City of Gold’.
“The GET IT northern suburbs reader is bright, busy, informed, well dressed and well groomed, global, sophisticated and a perfectionist. Hyper-local, they prefer to shop, spend and entertain close to home,” says Argo, adding that the readership is 35+ and 60% are women with a 50% split between career women and stay-at-home moms; 60% are white and just over 50% have dependents.
“They want stories about real people, not necessarily celebrities. When we started five years ago, they wanted ‘fame’ but now they’re interested in people who make a difference. Back then it was about spending and money and now it’s about clever buys with green/eco-friendly buys coming in tops,” explains Argo. “One thing that has stayed the same since GET IT first started is the popularity of the social pages – readers have always loved these!”
Gauties are equally as discerning about what they listen to. Whether you’re a student, of a particular faith or a kwaito freak, there’s a Gauteng radio station that caters for you. Research conducted by the station indicates that the 94.7 Highveld Stereo Gauteng listeners are fun loving and live in the now – sometimes a little on the edge. “The station plays the music that listeners love, because they tell us what music they love,” says station manager, Ravi Naidoo. “This station shares a common commitment with listeners to support South Africa. Highveld listeners are looking for a great mix of hit music interspersed with all the important information they need to know – news, traffic, weather, plus content that is forward thinking, fun and light-hearted.”
Highveld listeners are very engaged in social media activities via their computers and cell phones, and require a level of interactivity from their shows. Demographically, the core audience is LSM 7-10, aged 25 to 49. Listeners are evenly split along gender lines, and 52% of 94.7 Highveld Stereo’s listeners are black.
Talk Radio 702 station manager Pheladi Gwangwa says Gauteng listeners are “upwardly mobile, the most affluent audience in the country and put their money where their mouths are. They’re engaged, empowered, informed and intelligent. They are either for or against, but never sit on the fence”.
Demographically, 702’s core audience fits into LSM 7-10, Gauteng, 35+. Listeners are fairly evenly split along gender lines, with slightly more male than female listeners, while 57% of listeners are black. The 702 listener is proudly South African and optimistic about the opportunities for South Africa. They see themselves as part of the solution and many look to the station for opportunities to get involved in the issues and to guide them on what they can do, as active citizens. Gwangwa adds, “702 is solution-driven radio; we don’t give callers a platform to whinge: we give them a platform to make a positive contribution to society and this makes for great radio.”
Jacaranda FM listeners are mostly family orientated women aged between 25 and 29 in the LSM 7-10 market segment. “Most of our listeners are looking for good company,” says station manager Kevin Fine. “They want to know how long it will take to get to work and the weather. They want a sense of comfort, a pick-me-up; they want to laugh; they want to know about men; they want a good life partner and most importantly, they want a human and personal feel-good contact with the presenter on-air.”
Jozi FM caters for “the typical Sowetan”, mostly 35+ women with some education or college degree. Says CEO Mpho Mhlongo, “They know what they want. Our listeners own their own cars and want information about Jo’burg, the latest economic developments, social issues, government service delivery, women’s rights, the latest local music and (how) to secure a better future for their children.”
What’s certain is that in fast-paced Gauteng, digital media has drastically changed the game. Digital media has taken over the role traditionally played by dailies, while dailies have now taken over the role the Sundays used to play. Radio stations look for ways to be more accessible and interactive via social media networks.
The Star’s Sefara sums it up. “The digital media revolution has forced good dailies to look for exclusives, to do special reports, to appoint specialist writers, to rethink their traditional approach. The era of big stories only breaking on Sundays is over. The Sunday (papers) must up their games too or watch over plummeting circulation. The critical keyword here is innovation. If you offer mundane or run-of-the-mill stuff, you soon become yesterday’s great editor or publication!” n
Nikki Temkin is a freelance journalist and co-host of the Chic Radio Show on Radio Today.