Colin Radio Frequency (#CRF)
Colin Greenwood is Global Ambassador of Children's Radio Foundation (#CRF), a charity using radio as a tool to empower young people across Africa. Colin and his CRF producer Sam are both travelling to South Africa to meet some of the talented young people on the projects, take photographs and make some great radio.
Japhia Imuri, the University of the Western Cape
Wed, 30 January
Japhia Umuri, at just 21 years old, has already had a challenging life. His close knit family moved through five countries, from Rwanda, to live in South Africa. He started working with CRF at 16 years old, telling his story through radio.
Japhia is currently studying Economics at the University of the Western Cape. Sam and I went to meet Japhia on campus and speaking to him today, he said that he felt a burden lift through being able to tell this story. We spoke to Japhia for a couple of hours and asked him about his aspirations. His reply makes an apt and compelling summary to what has been, for us, an extraordinary enlightening trip.
I have seen that something as low-tech and ubiquitous as radio can become a platform for the voices of young people, making them feel unique and special.
Thank you to everyone for your interest and continuing support, and thank you to Children's Radio Foundation (pictured below) for showing me what a fantastic future South Africa has through its youth.
Moutse Community Radio Station
Mon, 28 January
See a selection of photographs I took at Moutse Community Radio Station this week, with some of the young people at the station singing a gospel song.
Moutse Community Radio Station 96.3 FM - 'Your friend to rely on'
Mon, 28 January
We drove across some beautiful countryside, from Johannesburg to Moutse in the region of Limpopo. Moutse is a rural area dotted with small townships, set in a sweeping green landscape covered in scrub and low trees. We arrived around 4pm at the radio station and were met by a dozen local children, all wearing their CRF t-shirts and media cards round their necks. After lots of hugs, dances and songs, the plan for that afternoon was to prepare for the live show the next morning.
I went with three of the young reporters - Liezel, Busi and Renieilwe - to interview Sylvia, who was wheelchair bound after an accident at work. She lived just down the road from the station, in the local village with dust red roads and crazy wire fences. The children spoke to her with tact and grace, and such enthusiasm for making the story. Sylvia wasn’t able to read, so the children couldn’t write their questions down for her, as they would normally do. Instead, they broke the interview down and rehearsed it with Sylvia until she was comfortable.
After the interview, we all nipped back to the station, where the other children had stayed past tea. There was time to finish uploading their audio onto the studio computer, ready for the live show the next morning. I was beginning to realise what a massive time commitment these children have to make in order to produce the programme, on top of their school and helping out at home.
Everyone was very excited about the programme and looking forward to the broadcast. The youth trainer and station presenter, Baby Girl, helped the children rehearse their moves, and the stage was set for showtime next morning!
On Saturday we got up early and returned to the radio station. As well as her weekly CRF slots, Baby-Girl has a her own three-hour afternoon show, five days a week. The children present every Saturday 8am to 9am. The programme is called ‘Tswadaar' - which translates as 'get out of there' - it’s street slang, and it’s used to encourage youth to get out of situations that aren’t good for them.
The show’s slogan is 'Zikhathane Of Another Kind.' Zikhathane - pronounced ‘Ko–Ta–Ne' - is a youth culture in South Africa that celebrates consumption by flaunting cars, designer clothes and cash. The Zikhathane hold dance-offs and compete in bling, even burning their own money.
'Tswadaar' was presented by a boy called Koki and a girl called Sponono, which means ‘beautiful'. The other kids crammed into the studio space, listening fiercely to the show as it went out live. Busi, Liezel and Renielwe’s interview with Sylvia sounded great! Then it was my turn to be interviewed by Koki and Sponono.
After the show the team met for a debrief and feedback session. There was lots of support, encouragement and positive criticism. The two presenters, Koki and Sponono, asked the others how the show went. Everyone felt the show had gone well, but that it could’ve been quieter in the studio! Busi, Reneilewe and Liezel - the three girls who interviewed Sylvia - said they found it hard to get her to speak longer than 15 second bursts for the interview, so they had to keep pausing the recorder and rehearse with her.
Sponono, 19 years old, talked about her nerves, and said that she’d had a little cry before the show because she was anxious about being the presenter that week. She also mentioned that she had been moved by some of the other children’s reports on disability. On air she was flawless and had asked me a question that I floundered to answer – 'Does being an Ambassador need qualifications?'
The children then spoke about how they would like to take this weeks’ topic of disability further, by doing some outreach and having an event where they could play back the audio commentaries and profiles they’d recorded. They hoped to change their communities’ view of disability and noted the interviewee Sylvia’s words – 'Do not put disabled people inside - give them a platform'.
Finally, it was time to choose a topic for next week’s show. Koki suggested a programme around the question ‘which township’s rocking?' They decided to visit four different villages, interview some knowledgeable locals and conduct some vox pops. The kids wanted to promote the positive stuff in their area; such as where was fun to hang out; meet local artists, actors and musicians.
Vaaltar FM 93.6 in Taung - www.vaaltar.co.za
Sat, 26 January
"Re Eme Pele Go Go Ntshetsa Pele" - 'We're ahead of the pack to show you the way'
FM is the community radio station for Taung, an area known as 'the
lions' home'. Taung is larger than Kuruman (where we were the day
before) and Vaaltar FM has a reach of 230,000 listeners. Vaaltar has
been on the air for 13 years, a massive achievement. There are 35 people
working at the station, with a total annual budget of about £4,000 for
wages and £3,000 for running costs. Funds are raised through local
advertising and hosting government broadcasts, such as budget
announcements from Cape Town.
The youth reporters are led by a
trainer called 'Notorious', a young presenter with his own African music
show every Monday. We heard a great trail for Notorious' show, listen
Notorious hosts DJ sessions, with local producers coming into the station to spin their latest tunes live on air.
In addition to his 'day job', Notorious also leads the youth radio show 'What’s Up'. It’s currently a pre-recorded show, but from February this
year it’s going to go out live, which will be a real buzz for the kids.
Here’s one of the Public Service Announcements they recorded for the
show, warning listeners about drink and drugs.
Lesedi led the children in a refresher course on radio reporting and presenting different audio formats, whilst Notorious offered them encouragement and support. I had a quick interview with three of the girls from the team (incidentally, the group was made up of seven girls and one very brave boy) and an 11 year old girl called 'Peace', who was new to the group, asked me some questions. It was her first time ever at the station and the other more experienced children pitched in and helped her with the interview.
Everyone was so pleased and excited that we were all there, making great radio and sharing it with the listeners.
Kurara FM 98.9 - You have made the ultimate choice!
Fri, 25 January
Kurara FM is in a former women’s prison, half rebuilt with a corridor and a dozen rooms to house the radio station. It’s in the small town of Kuruman 2 ½ hours’ drive from the mining centre of Kimberley. Sam, Lesedi, myself and Lebo flew into Kimberley early Wednesday morning and drove to Kuruman.
Lebo is one of the youth trainers at Kurara FM, living in a small settlement just outside Kurman.
The station plays a wide selection of music throughout the day – Afropop in the morning, R&B at lunchtime as well as hip hop and house for stepping out at night. The music is great, especially the Afropop – I hadn’t heard much before and I love the wild synth riffing over drum machine grooves.
Lebo and her team of young reporters broadcast their programme, 'Cracking It', from 10.00 to 10.30 am every weekend.
'Cracking It' talks about family life, sex education (or ‘life orientation' as it's known out here) and the problems and issues facing kids and young people in their communities. Violence in the family, bullying at school and teenage pregnancies are just some of the topics discussed by the children in their radio reports and interviews.
I met some of the young reporters later in the afternoon, after school, and after another flawless inquisition on their part, I cocked up when it was my turn to interview them and forgot to press record for most of the interview - Doh!
You can listen to some of my interviews with the young people on the projects below.
At tea-time we were invited back by one of the young reporters, Tlotlego Maroro, to meet his family and see where he lives, in a village just outside town. We met his mum and showed her Tlotlego’s film.
A fun interview in Manenberg
Thu, 24 January
We spent the morning at the Slave Lodge Museum for a final round up of all the training carried out by the amazing Nina, Lesedi and Yumna. Then later in the afternoon, Lesedi drove Sam and I to the township of Manenberg, 20 minutes outside of Cape Town. We had an appointment to meet some of the youngest radio reporters at a youth community centre, funded by CRF's UK office and run by Gwen and Linda.
After meeting all the kids, some as young as seven, we settled into a back room for a great interview - one of the most fun I've ever done. A lot of the children asking questions were more interested in my family than the usual interviewers. They asked me for my kids' names, the names of their teachers back in England, as well as my favourite story books - Grimms Tales. A lot of love for Little Red Riding Hood!
The children also wanted to listen to some Radiohead, so we played 'Reckoner' and 'High and Dry'. Their feedback: they liked the groove on 'Reckoner' but preferred the song 'High and Dry'. Astute A&R work. And great technical work by Jade (pictured below) on the recorder!
An audio slideshow...
Tue, 22 January
Here's an audio slideshow from Monday afternoon.
Lesedi drove us to visit a young people's health centre on 'Site C' in Khayelitsha, the huge settlement just by Cape Town Airport.
We met up with Lulu, who works as a counsellor and Ruth, who runs the Children's Radio Foundation project in partnership with Medecins Sans Frontieres.
We walked through some of the streets of Khayelitsha to the local library with two youth radio reporters, Zible and Nonjongo, who have both trained on the Children's Radio Foundation project.
We enjoyed some of the street vendors’ tasty beef barbecue and ginger beer, then got back in the car and drove to Lookout Hill to see some of the views across the settlement.
Nonjongo told us what a hassle it is for her to get to college from Khayelitsha, three buses and a taxi, because that’s how the infrastructure was set up under apartheid – to pen you in and slow you down every day.
A postcard from the flower market
Mon, 21 January
This morning we all reconvened at the slave lodge museum - Sam,
myself, the young trainers and two teachers Lesedi and Nina. We learnt
about the ‘postcard’ format, a way of making a programme for radio that
sets the scene of a place. We learnt how to describe the place using
sound, interview people and include your own feelings and reactions.
Have a look at the white board (pictured below) to find out more about
It was a lively, fun two hour session broken up
with dancing and group games (don’t ask how I did), after which we split
up into three reporting teams to go and make a 5 minute ‘postcard’
somewhere nearby. Our team - Lisa, Rishie and Sithem–Biso (pictured
below) - chose to go to the flower market on Adderley Street, near to
the Slave Museum.
Each reporting team of three was divided into
presenter, producer and a technician. There was a lot of planning before
we recorded - where we should go, who we should talk to. You can listen
to the postcard we made below along with a post-recording chat that Sam
had with Lisa, Rishie and Sithem–Biso too.
One of the important things to say about the CRF broadcasts is that the
aim is to make as few edits as possible. Not all of the radio stations
have computers, so it’s all about low tech production. It was like the
live flow of a gig – make a mistake, move on!
Radio trainers in Cape Town
Sun, 20 January
Sam and I flew into Cape Town at half eight this morning and were met by Mike Rahfaldt, Executive Director at CRF. He took us on a short tour of the city, starting with a drive past Khayelitsha, a township by the airport, housing one million people under corrugated iron shacks and stacked small new builds built by the government.
We joined a training session for 14 youth radio trainers and producers from all over South Africa (pictured above), hosted by Lesedi and Nina from CRF. It was held in a first floor reception room of the Iziko Slave Lodge Museum, formerly the colonial offices and one of the oldest buildings in Cape Town. The trainers had come from radio stations all over South Africa (we’ll be visiting some of them over the next fortnight) and have been here this week to learn and practise different radio techniques, which they’ll take to their own community radio stations.
You can hear an interview Sam’s just done with youth trainer Baby–Girl, from Moutse Community Radio Station in Limpopo.
Baby–Girl loves working with the young reporters, because they come up with such brilliant new ideas for broadcasts.
Tomorrow we’re going back to Khayelitsha, this time with all the radio trainers, as they go and interview people living in the township.
Tlotlego Maroro from Kuruman, Northern Cape
Fri, 18 January
Tlotlego is a young reporter for the CRF, and you can watch a film about his work with Kurara FM community radio station in Kuruman, Northern Cape. I'm going to Kuruman on this trip, and I'm excited to visit one of the community radio stations and listen to their news.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu talking about the Children's Radio Foundation
Thu, 17 January
Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaks about the work the CRF does, and its importance in giving young people a voice.
Wed, 16 January
Hello and welcome,
This is the start of my 11 day trip in South Africa. I'll be visiting Cape Town, Kayelitsha, Manenberg, Kuruman, Taung, Limpopo and Johannesburg.
I'll be meeting with young reporters, sitting in on training sessions, and sharing stories from the Children’s Radio Foundation. I’m very excited to be going, and I hope you’ll enjoy some of the accounts and images I’ll be posting.
Click on the links below to find out more - settle in and enjoy the sounds, sights and music brought to you by the CRF.
Wed, 16 January
Hello, and by nice coincidence, Dan from Caribou is releasing a 12'' by South African artist and producer, Nozinja a.k.a. Dog. It's on vinyl only, on Dan's JIAOLONG label - here are some places you can order from -
rough trade records
Here's a soundcloud link to the two tracks
Honest Jons records has released a lot of his work, to much acclaim, you can follow an interview with Dog here
Interview with Nozinja aka Dog