July 28th, 2011
"It all happened so suddenly. There I was jamming along to my favourite secret-diva, 'Ooh Baby Do you know what that's worth, ooh Heaven is a place on', when it happened. The melodic paradise just gave way to an ear-splitting GGGGGGGGGGGGG...Although her angelic voice was trying to reclaim my car space ‘they GG Heaven GG comes GG', it soon faded behind the final and evil GGG. I tried finding her again...but the tuning, the tuning just kept searching! The only thing I could find was...was... RSG!" *Que blood curdling ‘No!' screech....
Does this futile mission of recovering a lost radio station and embracing the beautiful, but not so cool, silence sound familiar? To many road trippers this loss is like saying goodbye to a dear travelling companion. MP3 players and CDs (if you are still living in the last millennium) don't count because they don't talk, share or listen like a radio station does! If you can identify you're in luck. We thought we would guide you through the playground that is the SABC airwaves. We will tell you about all the friends you can expect to make next time you tackle a journey on one of our lovely routes - when it hopefully isn't covered in snow!
Officialy voted SA's 'coolest' radio station according to the Sunday Times.
Image by mycitybynight.com
Think of the radio stations as a bunch of high school kids. There generally are the ‘populars', the less populars and then of course the well, losers. Everyone goes or, under pressure, wants to sit with the cool kids.
As you tune into YFM or 5FM you might feel the reassuring youthful rush of conformity. The cool kids talk about things that don't really matter, themselves and gives away yuppie-riffic things like cameras and expensive booze to buy you over. Sure they read the news, but it is usually interrupted by some lank funny practical joke or finished quickly to get to what is really important - the gig guide. They tell you where to hang out, where to party and which songs all the hipsters are listening too. But be careful, there are some places, especially the Northern Cape, where they can't be bothered to venture. If you taunt them by going there don't be surprised by the ‘eeuw' as they abandon you quicker than a gossip girl update. Now don't panic, you still have your second choice... The Hoof Seuns and Hoof Meisies.
"Cool man, we ain't going to Upington!"
Image by passionweis.com
Oh, you know these ones. It is as if these boys and girls wake up every day with a permanent smile. Their immaculately pressed jackets are covered by honours badges that are ceaselessly woven onto every possible stitch of cloth like a tapestry of goody-two-shoeness. You listen as their honey covered voices tell you about how many charities they have happily donated to. You can't help but think, "Such nice people, so much laughter, so over achieving. I'm annoyed. Next!" But alas you'd rather be listening to the top 8 at eight than your own thoughts. Each province has a head-child that represents the values of that there community, whether it is the arty bilingual Kfm or the talkative Boeremeisie Ofm.
Image by soundimagemusic.blogspot.com
So you continue listening. You get excited as they show you they can get naughty by sneaking in a song that you heard in the good old days with 5FM, but they don't overdo the unacceptable ‘young music' so that they still keep the old ballies happy. After a while you agree and think "All right, they're not that bad... It was starting to get a little tough trying to keep up and pretending to like the cool kids' incessant doef doef and ultimixes at 6". The family friendly ‘at work network' and ‘retro rewind' make you smile, and soon it is as if every one, you, the DJ and even the flippen countryside, is covered in a contented haze.
Image by redbubble.com
Just like that, as you settle in, they have some duty to attend to and the GGG makes its unwelcome return. Like a bad sequel, you are left with nothing yet again but the painful screeching white noise. It is only then when you should consider sitting with - them.
By ‘them' I mean the dependable but misunderstood ones. Like bread and rice, they are the staple of the radio world. But much like these starches they might lack a little gravy or some flavour, you know some chakalaka! The worst part though is that they try. Efforts like tjailatyd might leave you pulling an ‘oh-no you-didn't face' while they speak. Good thing they can't see right? Although this might be because of the trauma it induces, before you know it, you realize that the in depth weather reports of even Orania are actually useful for when you pass through there. And when else would you really engage in an intelligent conversation about the economy or listen to a vintage radio story.... Just like your parents they are at the very least reliable. They might not always be entertaining, but at least they are chock-a-block with (annoying but) necessary features.
"Oh no you didn't!"
Image by coloribus.com
This is where you might expect to find your chosen travel buddy:
The regional head boys and girls are usually anywhere in 94's so just play around there with the frequency, you can even get Algoa fm in the Northern Cape (for a little bit on the N1).
For Gauteng try Jacaranda 94.2, Khaya fm and Highveld Stereo. In Mpumalanga they have M Power fm, the Eastern Cape is home to Algoa fm, Free State has Ofm while KZN offers East Coast Radio and Gagasi. Finally try Kfm for the Western Cape.
In the SABC class of 29 stations, and hundreds more on the community radio waiting list, these are just a few. So be sure to check out the SABC's quick guide to radio stations for frequencies and all the info, read these roadtrip tips and don't forget to tell us who your fav radio companion is on the open road.