- Growth in recorded works of good local music has helped to put local artists on the same pedestal as their international counterparts
- A trial run of 100 percent local content at Independence last year provided Yarona FM with the impetus to go ahead
Youthful radio station Yarona FM recently embarked on an initiative to play 50 percent local and 50 percent international music, much to the delight of local musicians. This is an improvement on the station’s 40% quota set by the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA). In an interview with Time Out, Yarona’s Programmes Manager, Tshepang ‘DJ Izzy’ Motsisi, said growth in the recorded works of good local music inspired the station to put local artists on the same pedestal as their international counterparts.
“We have been considering this move for a while now and we finally took the plunge,” Motsisi said. “Local music is good and we could not ignore this growth. The playing field is now level, and so for every international song that plays will be a local song in all our radio programmes.”
It emerged in the course of the interview that as a matter of fact, this station had played 100 percent local music during the long weekend of Botswana’s Independence last year. “And it worked well for the station!” the manager exclaimed. That served as the basis for the radio station to chart the new course to increase local content last week that Motsisi says has been so well received by listeners that there has not been a word of disapproval.
He explains: “We call this initiative YaronaFM50. It was rolled out at the perfect time of the COVID-19 lockdown because our numbers (of listenership) have gone up. People are confined to their homes and are tuned to media platforms for entertainment and information. This 50 percent quota will go on for as long as the State of Emergency is in effect. If the response is great, we will continue.”
This Yarona FM initiative also came at a time when the call by local artists for broadcasters to give them a bigger share of airplay was reaching a new crescendo. Local artists launched a 70 percent local airplay campaign in an effort to boost their royalty pay out from the Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS). Royalties are currently the only source of income for them because events and festivals have been postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 70 percent local airplay initiative also seeks to avoid the huge royalties being paid to international artists when their works enjoy more local airplay.
Among outstanding advocates of this has been jazz artist Thabang Garogwe, who recently took the campaign to social media. “The growth of Botswana music begins with this kind of recognition,” he posted. “Thank you Yarona FM for seeing the good that comes with playing our music. You did not wait for BOCRA to compel you to do it. Rather you saw a patriotic need for our growth.”