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The man from where? Ukhozi FM and new identities on radio in South Africa

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The article focuses on the public radio station Ukhozi FM, part of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and operating through the medium of isiZulu. It argues that Ukhozi FM has radically changed in the ‘new dispensation’ of post-1990 South Africa, yet has maintained the creative and resistant identity forged in the apartheid years under the name Radio Zulu. Through an examination of selected programmes and announcers, in particular the once iconic ‘Mr Magic’, the article shows how aspects of the ‘new South Africa’ are a robust feature of its broadcasting style. Through expanding notions of ‘community’ embedded in the Zulu term ‘umphakathi’ presenters have constructed new dimensions of the concept. The station has produced ideas of ‘community’ which are simultaneously local and national. Popular culture, personal aspirations, religious fervour and the heat of modern politics all subsume within aspects of the linked notions of community with which the station juggles. Inclusive constructions of identity pull in those on the margins of the post-apartheid state and extend the station’s appeal in the uncertain new millenium.

Keywords: language and marginality; media and community; radio and identity; radio and popular culture

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Johannesburg and SOAS, University of London

Publication date: March 1, 2017

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