I remember the first time I set foot in the YFM studios. It was sometime in August 2011. I couldn’t believe the silence in that building. Everyone was glued to their screens and busy with their work. It wasn’t anything close to what I always heard on the other end of the radio. This was magical. Are these people for real for real? Are these the faces behind the crazy microphones? Why am I not hearing music?
And so the plot got thicker.
Each second of the experience revealed something about the station that made me want to be a part of it. See, when I consume a media form I want to feel included and considered. I want to get my fingers in every pie on the table. I want to ask questions, engage and interact at all times. Basically I want to be a part of a whole. YFM, 99.2, knows that; they know that the youth is not a passive audience and that’s what makes them Gauteng’s hottest frequency.
I have probably been listening to YFM since its establishment in 1997. Even though in my childhood then, I remember the buzz about the likes of the late Khabzela, Dj Fresh, Rude Boy Paul, Oskido and the music- boy I used to be that little girl dancing at every family gathering.
The frequency is for ‘young South Africans who are imaginative, curious and ambitious. They are continuously seeking new ways to improve their lives and their communities so that they are able to lead successful and rewarding lives’. The youth station has always been about entertaining and connecting with Yires (YFM listeners) through its music. This young commercial radio station has won the hearts of many Gauteng youth not only through its music but also through the ever ready and excited radio personalities.
The core genres of the station meet the musical needs of the youth: hip hop, house, kwaito and RnB. The musical range is broad; with YFM,; if it’s good they will play it. The music is creatively selected to suit the mood of each show and each genre is recognised. The ‘hot 99’ is one of the ways to specifically celebrate each genre. On a good day one needs a good song to sustain the mood and when I’m having a bad day YFM will forcefully elevate the mood because 99.2% of the time a good tune is playing. People may ask what about YFM sets it apart and I will tell you that with 99.2 every day is a party!
Even though music covers almost 80% of the content aired, the 20% is not to be forgotten. The topics tackled are interactive and applicable to the listeners. The 1.34 million listenership reflects the greatness and popularity of this frequency. Every show brings something different to the table. As a 20 year old, I am not only entertained but empowered as well. The bubbly radio personalities know what a 20 year old wants to hear and what trials and tribulations we are going through. They too are youthful, which allows a listener to form a relationship. The radio personalities aren’t just voices behind a microphone; they are bigger than that. They are change makers and role models.
YFM knows and understands the importance of educating while entertaining. The Today in History, #T.I.H, segment of the shows is a constant reminder of what happened in history on that day that created our modern democracy. Every day in history is recognised; this not only reminds the future leaders of the country’s past but also shows the stations commitment to our history and future.
YFM goes beyond the boundaries of radio. The station has a magazine (YMag); a television broadcast (Ytv); a YouTube channel and a every interactive website where one can stream online.
YFM wants to make a difference in society. They want us, the youth, to get involved and make a difference in our own lives. The Y Academy initiative makes a difference in the lives of many young people. The six month internship programme creates future stars of radio. In the six months, young people are given the opportunity to learn about every aspect of the radio industry. Once graduated one can have a successful radio career.
This small commercial radio station has been home for many of the greatest media faces such as Bonang Matheba, DJ Sbu, Dineo Ranaka, Mo Flava and DJ Fresh. Being a part of the YFM family, even as a listener, opens up doors to a bigger brighter world of the media.
Social networks are buzzing with discussions led by the station. Every young person in the Gauteng province wants to be a part of this exciting community and that’s why GP’s hottest frequency remains at the top of my list. Yona ke yona.
Lindiwe Tsope is currently studying towards a degree in Journalism and Psychology at Rhodes University.
IMAGE: YFM website