Radio in SA remains in good shape, although formats are changing

By our News Team | 2023

Emergence of a variety of listening formats is changing the dynamics of the media environment, but radio’s audience continues to be strong.

Recently the Broadcast Research Council of South Africa presented its latest statistics (called RAMS Amplify) for the first quarter of 2023, where it emerged that radio remains a strong and resilient medium.

Established in 2015, chief role of the council is to commission and oversee the delivery of radio and television audience measurement research for broadcasters, as well as for the advertising and marketing industry.


Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

“Radio holds a position of dominance within the media environment that is buoyant in an array of media formats,” says its CEO, Gary Whitaker. “However, the emergence of this [variety of] formats is changing the dynamics of the media environment.”

Historically, the 35 to 49-year-old demographic, comprising 11.7-million people in South Africa, are ardent radio listeners. However, they are now increasing their video streaming. 

Younger listeners, in the 24-34 age group, are increasing engagement with music streaming and podcasts within the listening cluster. 

Radio listening amongst male audiences is strong – at an almost 80% P7D (Past 7 Days) reach, with a slight decline in female listeners. 

Radio stronger in middle- and upper-income brackets

In the middle-income and upper-income brackets of the economically active population, radio is stronger, while there is a slightly lower reach for lower-income individuals. 

According to the Broadcast Research Council, what is interesting to note is that those segmentations that have a broader media repertoire tend to have a higher radio reach. This highlights radio’s popularity amongst a wide variety of media types.

Music still rates highly in the shows that South Africans like to listen to. Local news, weather, advice and traffic – at 65.9%, 64.8%, 59.4% and 55.9 respectively – indicates that localised content is still driving radio listenership. 

Among the findings from the latest study: 

  • More than 26.4-million South Africans, listen to the radio several times a week.
  • Almost a third of waking hours are spent listening to the radio.
  • Tuesdays and Wednesdays have the highest listening reach.
  • Listening only peaks once a day, on weekday mornings from 6am-9am (drive time).
  • ‘At home’ remains the primary radio setting, while ‘listening in the car’ continues to grow.

Top Commercial Radio Stations for Q1 2023 (P7D):

  • Ukhozi FM – 7 597 000 listeners
  • Metro FM – 4 535 000 listeners
  • Umhlobo Wenene FM – 4 090 000 listeners
  • Lesedi FM – 3 597 000 listeners
  • Motsweding FM – 3 077 listeners

“Radio … holds its strength as an information source, but the listening cluster as a whole is changing because of technology,” concludes Whitaker. “Across the entire income and demographic spectrum, digital listening is on the rise, but listening via terrestrial sources remains prevalent.”

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.