How did Rhythm100 Radio start?
Kaunda Chama (KC): The station was launched in October 2009 and was established by four friends- Abel Lungu, Kaunda Chama, Chuma Phiri and Chibanja Lungu. It was initially something we did for fun because we all love music and have been DJs and VJs in the past, but the passion for it made us transform the passion into a business.
What are the barriers to setting up an online radio station?
KC: There were really not many barriers to setting up the station, we basically had all the equipment we needed before hand and after getting everything right with ICASA and SAMRO, it was all systems go.
One of the advantages we had was that we had strengths in the initial team that were in technology, management, sales and broadcast media so all we needed was the funding to set up the studio and we were good to get going.
Did you find it difficult to find talent to do the presenting?
KC: Yes it was in the beginning because as a start up, you are not sitting on the budgets that the big FM stations have. You have to bear in mind that prime talent comes at a premium and we did not have the kind of money they were asking for.
However things have been getting much better as we have been holding a good number of auditions. It is actually interesting to see how many talented young people there are out there that just need that one break to get into the radio scene. I believe we have now found a good number of them and this shows even when you compare our early broadcasts to what we have on air at the moment.
How about payment to South African Music Rights Association (SAMRO), do you have to pay for the tracks you play?
KC: Yes they have certain payment structures that they charge online radio stations like ours and we pay them a fee every quarter for everything we play. It covers both local and international music.
Will you be gunning for a radio license from ICASA?
KC: That is definitely on the cards, but at the moment we are more focused on getting the online radio station to the best level it can be before we move over to the FM frequency. As much as we would like to do that now, its is also about keeping your eye on the ball and being focused on doing what you started the best way you can.
How much bandwidth is traffic pulling each month?
KC: At the moment we are comfortably getting through about 40GB of bandwidth per month but this keeps growing significantly every three months and because this is our fifth month, next month will see it reach another level.
The good thing is that as the bandwidth usage grows, so does our listenership. The broadcasting space is all about numbers so we have to make sure we are getting more connections all the time.
What is the support like from the industry?
KC: The industry has been quite supportive but I still think that there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of convincing certain companies that the Internet is just as good a channel to broadcast/webcast music or talk shows.
Everything is going in the web direction so I am more than confident the support will continue to grow. Being one of the first people on the continent to have an “all Africa all Internet” radio station means that we have to go through all the teething issues and go through the initial edutainment process, but the industry is already getting very supportive and this gives us all the confidence we need.