SAfm, the English radio channel for SABC, has made a number of major on air changes. These include the return of drama to the station and a emphasis on current affairs which now extends into the weekends. Veteran broadcaster Vuyo Mbuli who did the morning talk show also came off air on Friday 31 March. There has been criticism from some quarters on the axing of a number of presenters to make way for these changes.
SAfm Station Manager, Mapule Mbhalati has defended the changes on the basis that they were necessitated by SABC’s broadcast mandate from Icasa, particularly current affairs and drama. “However, we’ve maximised these opportunities with exciting new programming and talent which we believe will cement our position as the country’s leading broadcaster of news and information in English.”
Xolani Gwala (SABC 1s Asikhulume/Let’s Talk host) will be taking over the reigns from Vuyo Mbuli presenting Morning Talk (Mon-Fri 09:00 – 12:00). Xolani is no newcomer to listeners having stood in for Vuyo on numerous occasions over the past year. Vuyo advised the station that he was unable to renew his contract as the demands of his television career increasingly encroach on his radio show.
In the other daytime changes Ike Phaahla will now present the current affairs show Midday Live (12-13h00 – Mon-Fri) taking over from current host Carolyn Dempster Tsepiso Makwetla joins the station to co-host the weekday PM Live with Jeremy Maggs from the middle of April.
The new weekly drama schedule, announced recently, includes an hour play on Saturday evenings, a half hour play on Sunday Afternoons and a daily serial in the evenings (Mon – Thurs) focussing on new South African writing and was launched with a play on the life of Robert Sobukwe on Human Rights Day.
The other big change to the station takes place on weekends with current affairs making its debut for three hours on a Saturday and Sunday Morning and for an hour on Saturday and Sunday evenings. The Saturday focus will be on a wrap of the previous weeks most important stories as well as a special report dealing in depth with one topic. Sundays will have an international news round up, eco tourism news, religious news and the ever-popular The Editors. Saturday AM Live is presented by Siki Mgabadeli, Sunday AM Live by Tsepiso Makwetla and Saturday PM and Sunday PM by Fenley Foxen.
Other highlights from the new schedule include woman’s programme Otherwise moving to weekday lunchtimes with programmes from all around the country. Tracy Going returns to radio hosting Jozi Live on Tuesday nights; Thursday evenings taking on a Classic feel with The Thursday Concert presented by Simon Lomberg followed by late Night Classics with Xolisa Mpeqeka, also making his SAfm debut.
Arts & Culture comes under the spotlight on It’s Friday Night hosted by cultural commentator Kutloano Skosana and Ike Phaahla loosens things up on a Saturday and Sunday night with the Best Of Jazz for three hours.