They say that behind every strong man there is a strong woman, well behind every beautiful digital graphic, there’s Hlompo Maseko, digital specialist at 5FM. We sat down with the man who takes his job seriously but himself lightly. “Everything said on radio can be consumed in a digital form. My job is essentially translating plans into digital platform. The creatives give me instructions and I specialise in the technical.”
Within any organisation there are structures that need to be adhered to. Within the SABC digital platforms, all websites follow the same pivot layout. Compare for example 5FM; Radio 2000; Umhlobo Wenene FM; Metro FM; Radio 2000:
“Because of that unity, 5FM has developed a very signature image and text style to their visuals in order to differentiate our site.”
“The biggest mistake people make in digital is to copy and paste radio content, you have to adapt it slightly for digital platforms. You should never exactly repeat what was said on air.” Other key areas include ensuring interactive, informative content with super high resolution images. 5FM’s app is proof of this superior digital presence. There are basically three different types of sites for mobile applications:
1- Mobi Sites (where text automatically adjusts to fit the mobile screen)
2 – Hybrid apps (which incorporate control management system CMS)
3 – Native apps (which belong to the domain and are developed specifically for that purpose).
This native system is used by the 5FM app and has the added advantage of being able to live stream. “Although we are a national radio station, our frequency does not reach every single section of the country and when signal is lost, listeners can stream through the app.” Other aspects include entering competitions, voting for your favourite songs and engaging in chatroom formats, all directly through one integrated app.
When asked about advances in technology, I noted the incorporation of whatsapp voice notes on all platforms since last year. Was this due to an improvement in tools? “Not at all,” says Hlompo. “Voice notes have always been there. They are essentially audio files which can be downloaded off of whatsapp web, saved and then replayed through the system. One guy someone just put the logic together and opened up a whole new way of communicating.”
It is the beauty of digital to go one step further in communicating with the 5FM audience. “5FM is not a radio station” says Gilda PR for 5FM, “it is far more than that, it exists and excites on multiple platforms.” It is this willingness to not only excel in the audio medium, but to invest in other platforms for the listener, that has earned 5FM its legendary space in the lives of those who live loud.