by Gill Moodie (@GrubstreetSA) Of the three new FM stations to hit the air waves in the past year, Vuma 103 FM in KwaZulu-Natal is the least talked about in media circles – and yet in many ways, it is the most interesting.
Both Smile FM in Cape Town and the Johannesburg-based Power FM got a lot of buzz when they launched (in March and June respectively) but Vuma FM has been on the air since November last year, quietly gaining audience. According to the latest RAMS figures from the South African Audience Research Foundation, out last week, Vuma FM was at 93 000 listeners (past seven days) – and that was only its urban audience.
Based in Durban but reaching most of KwaZulu-Natal, the station goes out in 90% isiZulu with 70% music – most of which is gospel and also more broadly inspirational.
Owned by KNI, a consortium led by Revered Abe Sibiya who also heads the One Gospel satellite TV station, Vuma is unusual in the South African media landscape because it is a vernacular product that targets upper LSM groups.
Most vernacular media offerings, such as the very successful Isolezwe newspaper, target the lower LSMs.