Jacaranda FM recently embarked on one of the best marketing stunts produced by a radio station that once again showed why they are the largest independent commercial radio station in South Africa. So what do you do if you’re a Gauteng based radio station covering three other very diverse provinces? You show them the love! The Complimentary Breakfast, hosted by Rian van Heerden, embarked on the ‘Rian’s Love Tour’ that covered Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.
All it took was one phone call from a listener in Limpopo to convince Rian that visiting his town was a good idea. The proposal eventually ended up as a roadshow around Limpopo and Mpumalanga. The way the story unfolded thereafter was nothing short of brilliant programming. The radio station engaged and involved their listeners right from the beginning and planned how the message would flow to add elements of excitement and anticipation for the tour.
For the first week or so after the breakfast team decided that they were going on a tour they speculated on air about how they going to go about it and every day they made progress in terms of their plans. They could’ve just announced what they going to do but instead, with a clear aim of increasing time spent listening to the show, they created a ‘story’, one could say – and of course like any other story the listener wanted to know how it ended.
The only way a listener could find out how it all panned out was to listen every day – and with a loyal listenership base like Jacaranda FM has, they were bound to increase their time spent listening to the radio. Eric Norberg, who has written numerous radio related books, says how listeners perceive a radio station is what they expect to hear next, which determines their listening habits and thus builds loyalty – an element of programming not forgotten by Jacaranda FM during the tour.
The sole reason a listener tuned into the breakfast show is because of their great content and a good listening experience remained consistent throughout the tour. Later on they announced daily which towns they would be touring; they didn’t immediately say where they were going just for that element of suspense. This created excitement for the listeners who were hoping that the tour would come to their town.
Eventually the breakfast team announced all the towns they will be broadcasting from on which days, time which was immediately followed by a comprehensive video treasure map, like the map on their website, using Bob Sinclair’s Love Generation song as the theme music. The Bob Sinclair song was used continuously throughout the tour on air or on the website so as to make the listener identify Rian’s Love Tour with that specific song. The tour started Monday the 17February; one week was dedicated to different towns in Limpopo and another week was dedicated to towns in Mpumalanga.
In each town they broadcast live from 6am followed later by lunch with listeners at another town and then the team would also have dinner in another town in what they referred to as Pub Nights. This allowed them to cover more towns in the region and provided the rare opportunity of engaging listeners on a human level – there is no doubt that the many interactions they had with listeners left a lasting impact in their hearts and minds.
With any radio tour comes the challenge of broadcasting locally relevant content but not losing the listeners who still want their usual on air offering of news, features etc. There was no doubt they had a great balance between the content they had sourced locally whilst maintaining their usual programming features. I was greatly impressed with how much love they received from the public everywhere they went from school kids lining up to sing school anthems to them, to a lady proposing marriage to Rian and much more, all of which made for great content. A designated website which is still running – www.lovetour.co.za – was used to give more detailed information about the tour. Videos of all the highlights of the day was placed on the Jacaranda FM website as well.
Despite all this, what impressed me most was the bold step of Jacaranda FM to use a different voice from their usual station voice – they used a more baritone voice for the love tour theme for all on air promotions; something most commercial radio stations would be wary of even attempting. Of course it sounded different but it made for fresh and interesting radio. The placement of the promo was almost all day on all the shows and I found it to create a great sense of unity rallying behind the station’s breakfast show.
However, I found some of the words used on the promos a bit out of place. For example one of the promo’s went, “Rian is making his way to Limpopo” when he was already in Limpopo – I’d think it best to rather have for example “Rian has answered your call and will be broadcasting all week in Limpopo.” I’m also curious why they did not tour the North West, which is one of the provinces within Jacaranda FM’s footprint – and this could make listeners in the North West feel left out as if they not as important as those in Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
With a new player in the mix in Mpumalanga, Rise FM, as well as Capricorn FM in Limpopo and North West FM in the North West, this tour consolidated the love and support that Jacaranda FM still enjoys in the northern provinces of South Africa despite three relatively new competitors.
I cannot remember the last time a radio station toured on this scale and so hats off to Jacaranda FM for pulling off such an amazing radio beauty of impactful and engaging radio.