Tuks FM’s transformation means success at Liberty Radio Awards
Of the 18 nominations that Tuks FM received at the 2019 Liberty Radio Awards, they walked away with a total of ten. The Liberty Radio Awards took place on 13 April at the Sandton Convention Centre and is the only industry-wide award ceremony in South African radio. Tuks FM’s victory included awards such as best night-time show, best music show, best breakfast show, best afternoon show, and most impressively, the coveted campus station of the year award and the radio innovation award. Leanne Kunz, the Tuks FM station manager, views the radio innovation award as a special award as it fit in the mixed category, where Tuks FM was competing against the biggest and most wellresourced commercial radio stations such as Jacaranda FM and KFM 94.5. In winning the Campus station of the year award, Kunz said “it was a wonderful confirmation that the changes brought about and the decisions made from a management perspective were the right ones”. Max M’membe, the head of the presenting department and a presenter herself, said she was “immensely proud of the team”, further expressing the gratitude of gaining recognition for all their hard work.
Kunz attributes Tuks FM’s success to the full transformation it underwent last year. The format shifted from a predominantly rock music-focused radio station to a Top 40 radio station that combines RnB, house, pop and hip-hop in their playlists. The structure and operations within the station changed, with emphasis being placed on the training of the team, intense marketing that finds different ways of approaching clients, and altogether changing the culture and ethos of the station, resulting in the transformation of Tuks FM’s vision and mission.
Since last year Kunz says Tuks FM placed more focus on its volunteers and their skill development. She explained that the stringent training of the team has been a priority, ensuring that they are provided with “industry-credible training” that optimises their performance and professionalism in their respective divisions. To retain the quality of the content produced by the team and to keep them motivated and energised, balcony sessions are held every Friday at Tuks FM. According to Kunz, the balcony sessions are a social element, where artists perform at Tuks FM and the team is given the opportunity to socialise and “be friends outside the Tuks FM workspace”. Another way of motivating the team is by bringing in Alumni, said Kunz, the big names that have come from Tuks FM, to shed some guidance and motivation to the team. M’membe expressed the “cohesive good team” the transformation has produced. A team that “works well together and supports each other” in a positive space.
“Young, Fresh, Relevant”, the Tuks FM mantra requires Tuks FM to keep up with the trends in the best way it can. Technological progression has propelled Tuks FM to initiate its podcast so as to incorporate a digital and social element in Tuks FM’s content, said Kunz. M’membe explained that, “constant reinvention and awareness of the environment to find content” ensures that Tuks FM lives by its mantra. The station’s readiness and eagerness to grow indicates its desire to “deliver a service to [listeners], to entertain and inform” said Kunz.
Tuks FM’s transformation has experienced its own challenges, starting with the loss of the older listenership that felt that Tuks FM was “losing [its] identity” said Kunz. As Tuks FM is a campus radio station, the budget is limited, therefore restricting the technological advancements the station can make. This is another reason that the Radio Innovation award was so special, according to Kunz, who said the team filmed content with their cell phones. “You can do a lot with a little, if you really just think outside the box” expressed Kunz.
Tuks FM’s goal for this year, according to Kunz, is to “build on the momentum” a major focus being on marketing. A survey conducted by the station last year revealed the low percentage of students who actually listen to the radio. Therefore, the station intends to increase listenership through intense marketing to make students aware of their presence and the Tuks FM content that is relevant to them, said Kunz. Another goal is to upkeep Tuks FM’s active community engagement. They have already completed the annual “Back to Varsity” student drive, the collaboration with Menlyn Park Shopping Centre that collected stationery, blankets and non-perishable food items to the value of R50 000, in February. Kunz also spoke of their “Hear the Sights” initiative, for which they won the Radio Innovation award. This involves the team taking students from the Prinshof school for the visually impaired to the Pretoria zoo and giving them an audio-tactile learning experience.
Tuks FM is filled with “colourful personalities […] with a spark” said Kunz, who further voiced that all students who wish to join or be involved with Tuks FM should “be [themselves], be authentic, know the brand” and familiarise themselves with the radio space. M’membe describes it as an open environment for people who “care about broadcasting, society and Pretoria”, where the attitude is one of “producing content that matters”