Bob Mabena of Kaya FM discusses the “new’ radio listener


His name is Karabo Tabane and at face value he is a radio presenter’s favourite
listener. There are quite a few of them and they are unique and easy to identify
too. Radio research misses or ignores this listener for various reasons and this is at
their peril. Radio at best, is supposed to keep you engaged and entertained for a
reasonably protracted time so that they can count you as a loyal listener. This is
also what the advertiser wants. The spray and pray mentality cannot yield desired
positive responses and feet in the store. Many other forms of entertainment stand
in the way of radio getting this done and consistently at that. They include new
media and social networks. Since the advent of radio’s nemesis – television – the
latter has managed to not only survive but thrive by attaching itself to all other new
media types in a very smart and creative way. Safe to say that radio’s very
physically portable nature is no longer a USP, the fact that you can still consume
radio anywhere, cheaply and seamlessly is still great but loyal listener it doesn’t
create. One has to do so much more.

The dearth of on air and radio management talent is a serious challenge but even
more dangerous and intriguing is the listener I am writing about. Karabo Tabane is
on Twitter and he is quite busy. How do I know this? I follow Tim Modise and John
Robbie on Twitter and so does Karabo. What sets this guy apart form a “normal’
listener is that on any given day, he will communicate with or send tweets to all
three Gauteng breakfast shows – Tim, John and me. This is a listener who actually
enjoys band hopping to the extreme. I am not talking about your typical “RT’ guy
who throws platitudes and sound bites. I am referring here to a listener who
interacts with all three different breakfast show hosts at the same time, as if he is
a P1. Never missing a beat, he pivots as if being a listener was a profession one
gets paid millions for.

What then, does a programmer do to selfishly capture this listener as an exclusive
P1 to their station or at least breakfast show? What tricks and tactics can be
employed to keep Karabo on one dial only, because clearly he is a valuable
listener? This is a kind of intelligent and engaging listener that any sensible
programmer wants to own and sell to advertisers. This listener is coveted by
advertisers and would complete the cycle that runs through the station, the listener
and the advertiser.

The naked truth to face in the first place is that there will be more Karabos in the
near future and this will force radio to look at ways to accommodate this listener in
RAMS. The naked truth is that Karabo is not likely to change his listening habits
because hopping around and taking bits and pieces of the best three is what he
actually enjoys. You might argue that this is not in fact a new listener, but my
counter argument is simply that ONLY now does a Karabo Tabane have a face. He
might be part of a statistic but unlike in conventional research; now, not only can
we identify him, we can actually see his moves from one station to the other, in the
same time channel and in real time. Of comfort is the fact that we know he loves
radio for certain. This is evidenced by the fact that he stays with breakfast radio
(not any particular radio station), for the three hours.

Advertisers know that reach, impact and frequency will give them a better chance
of their message at least being heard and radio knows that they need more
lucrative listeners tuning in longer and being stable per quarter hour – this much is
common knowledge. My advice is consistency. At this stage, Karabo is in the
minority and not much can be done to alter his listening habits. Consistency is key
to get this coveted listener to keep you in his cycle. Do not bore Karabo trying to
chase him; he is a decisive itchy-feet listener with a mind of his own. A sensible
programmer will dig deeper into RAMS, find and identify this listener and classify
him a P1. Yes, that’s right; I own Karabo and so does John and Tim; he knows it
and they know it too. Karabo is loyal to all three breakfast shows and he, at best
participates at 33 and a third rate per station.

So here is to you then Karabo; you and the likes of Ditshego are leading the way in
challenging and reshaping old radio norms and standards and I am loving it!
– Bob Mabena – Kaya FM 95.9


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