Zimbabwe: Power Fm in Troubled Waters

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Midlands-based radio station, Power FM is in a Catch-22 situation on whether or not to relocate to Harare from Gweru amid reports that the station has started courting former Radio 3 disc jockeys in a bid to improve mediocre programming and a dwindling audience base, Independent Xtra heard this week.

Sources at the station said the decision to relocate to Harare has been brought about by the need to revamp the station, whose programming has seen it reportedly becoming the worst performing radio station in so far as advertising revenue and listeners are concerned. The country has four radio stations -- Sport FM, Radio Zimbabwe, Power FM and National FM.

Most of the station's musically astute presenters at the then Radio 3 deserted it following sweeping broadcasting content directives introduced by former Information minister, Jonathan Moyo who imposed 100% local content.

"The station is in a gridlock," sources said. "And management is contemplating moving back to Harare where most of the former Radio 3 presenters are based. There is a strategy to invite back to the station the likes of Tichafa Matambanadzo and DJ Munya among others to spearhead the campaign to turn around its fortunes."

"Power FM is no longer generating meaningful revenue, which is why they're struggling to pay competitive salaries to their presenters and import up-to-date international music." DJ Munya, who returned to Zimbabwe from Malawi last month, said he was not aware of the new developments at Power FM adding that although things had changed at the station unlike when he was among a crop of disc jockeys who captured the imagination of their listeners when it was still Radio 3, there was room for improvement at the station.

"I just came back from Malawi last month where I was working for a radio station in the capital," said the former presenter. "I really don't know what's going on at Power FM at the moment. What I know however is that there is still room for the station to improve as it commands a sizeable following with the country's youth."

Independent Xtra failed to get a comment from Tinashe Chiname, who is said to be acting head of the station. Independent Xtra is reliably informed that former Radio 3 DJ's who have so far been approached have demanded the station relocates to Harare as a condition for their return and that they be paid lucrative salaries.

(Zimbabwe Independent (Harare), 13 July 2007)