I Lagardien
I Lagardien

Student radio not what it used to be

In many parts of the world student radio stations are bastions of progressivism and staffed by active, engaged students who lead discussions against injustice and stand up for persecuted and vulnerable groups and communities. In the US, where I spent several years teaching at university, radio stations typically get involved in progressive causes: LGBT issues, environmental issues, gender violence, racism – these are all the topics they engage with. The University of Pretoria Radio station, Tuks FM, has to be one of the most narrow-minded, unprofessional and offensive institutions on air.

News reports are poorly written and often presenters laugh or giggle while reading the news. That’s just unprofessional. What is even more offensive is the ugly rubbish they peddle about things that happen “only in Africa” – which is invariably code-speak for deeply racist views. Of course there are no racists in South Africa. We live in a racist country where there are no racists. Except, though, if you point out that one particular group who have dominated the country for 400 years continue to enjoy the vertically segmented privileges of centuries of exclusivity – then THAT is racism. I shall write more about that on another occasion; about the shift in morality…

Anyway back to Tuks FM. Having spent the past 12 months living in Pretoria, I often turn to them for music. They play the greatest diversity of music I enjoy; from Jack Parow to Jimi Hendrix. The people who work at the station are, however, some of the most ill-informed, misguided young people I have listened to. Their asinine comments and self-righteousness knows no bounds – especially when it comes to things that “only happen in Africa”. In one commentary earlier this year the jock behind the mike spoke sarcastically about an octogenarian who was raped. He suggests this was something unique to post-apartheid. So I sent them a link to similar cases in the US and Britain. This did not seem to make any impact. Last Friday, October 18, in their spot “TIA” – This is Africa – they told the story about a police car being stolen and then crashed. The wise jock explained he had never heard of something like that anywhere else in the world.

We know he is not racist – ask Malan or Hofmeyr; there is no racism in South Africa and whites have never done anything wrong. What is deeply troubling is that it took me less than 30 seconds to find, online, a list of more than a 1 000 similar incidents in North America. Now given the self-absolution that is so pervasive in South Africa I don’t expect the radio jocks and sycophantic (giggling female) voices that affirm everything the real men say on the station (they don’t seem to realise how they are reproducing sexist, patriarchal stereotypes), to abandon their Afro-pessimism (we will not call it racism). Hell they can’t even accept that 400 years of domination, exclusion, the forced movement of millions of people to remote parts of the country and that the destruction of communities and families over centuries have a lasting, inter-generational effect on contemporary South Africa and that this can help us understand dislocation, overcrowding and the collapse of infrastructure in urban areas…

For the rest of us this link is to the source of hundreds of police cars that were stolen – not in Africa. The US evidence is especially pertinent because the jocks (as well as those on Five FM, Metro, among others) use the US as a reference point for almost EVERYTHING they do. It is as if the rest of the world is a cultural void. Recently Jacaranda FM joked about Arab culture, faked Arabic accents and laughed hysterically when someone was accidentally killed at a wedding because a gun was fired into the air at said wedding. The worst part of all is that their offensive behaviour and conduct hides behind a veneer of self-given innocence and absolution. About these, latter, issues I will publish something later.

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    • http://www.ilagardien.com I Lagardien

      Typographical error correction: I wrote “Hell, they can’t even except that 400 years” it should have read “they can’t even accept”. Apologies. But that’s why there are sub-editors.

    • Daniel Berti

      Nice article. I wish radio in this country was better – I’m often pained by the huge amount of advertising we get hit with.
      People might even pirate music a lot less often if radio was good.
      Other errors include spelling Jack Parow and Jimi Hendrix wrong.

    • http://www.southafricana.blogspot.com Dave Harris

      Wonderful article! Actually the problem also extends to corporate media.
      During apartheid era Capital Radio 604 was the only independent sources of broadcast news. This was gradually overtaken by Radio 702 in the late 80s and is now corporately owned by Primedia who have become distinctively anti-government. Our corporate mainstream media now operates like mafia with total impunity. Unfortunately, the racists among us have learned that they can hide behind our free speech rights to spew their racist garbage on air. So its not surprising how our corporate media together with the usual suspects, railed against common sense media reform e.g. Protection of State Information Bill – designed to strengthen our democracy.

      Unfortunately these students are a product of their social environment that shows we have a long way to go to eradicate the festering racism that has metastasized over the centuries in certain parts of our society.

    • Stephen Browne

      Jimmy Hendricks made me laugh :) The adult advisory spelling? Radio in this country is atrocious, but that’s why we have the internet.

    • Bernpm

      “Except, though, if you point out that one particular group who have dominated the country for 400 years continue to enjoy the vertically segmented privileges of centuries of exclusivity – then THAT is racism.”

      We used to refer to only 40 years of history when talking racism. Now we are going back 400 years to find the blame. I have news for you: racist comments (jokes, insults..) will be with us between races until -speaking with Presidential authority- Jesus comes.

      If you do not like the station? Switch to another or “off”.
      If you are in the business of verifying all you hear over the radio or TV, you have your job worked out. Hope for you that someone pays you :-))

    • Jean Wright

      Never listened to University of Pretoria Radio… it doesn’t sound my ‘thing’. Racism, I suppose is everywhere, not just in South Africa. The French have ‘Belgian’ jokes, the English have ‘Irish’ jokes. Mother-in-Law jokes (anti-feminist jokes?) are international. Why aren’t there are ‘Father-in-Law’ Jokes? Perhaps it is humanity’s need to feel superior at the expense of other humanity.

      From my collection of (antique) maps, South Africa was barely explored/discovered 400 years ago, and then generally only as a staging post…. was the 400 years a typo, along with some of the spelling?

    • Reducto

      @Harris: “So its not surprising how our corporate media together with the usual suspects, railed against common sense media reform e.g. Protection of State Information Bill – designed to strengthen our democracy.”

      Tying the hands of the courts, no reasonable defences for good faith whistle-blowers. We all know which side of the divide is terrified of the Constitutional Court having its say on the Secrecy Bill, and where it is going to end up (Spoiler: the bin).

    • HD

      I only listen to Tuks FM – the only real rock music station left in the country.

      Sure the students aren’t always politically correct, but hell the last thing I want is some progressive politically correct campus radio station! We have enough of this stuff elsewhere, let students be students and for once leave the politics out of it…(Although I agree some of them sometimes make statements that are pretty ignorant and narrow-minded and should be addressed if it really oversteps the mark)

      *rant on

      Most students are already indoctrinated into BA (Marxism), pumped full of leftist ideology and rhetoric that passes off for education and the same time establishing an entitlement and blame culture that is behind must of the trouble in the world today (under the supposed guise of critical thinking).

      It still amazes me thinking back how one sided some of my education in the social sciences and humanities where – only once I grew up and started thinking/learning for myself that I realise just how full of ideology, caricatures and straw men some of it where…especially regarding economics and thinking to the “right” of the establishment left.

      All the more fun when returning back to university after spending some time in the real world (or reading wider) to challenge your old professors (even better meeting in policy/think tank environments) – all of a sudden they are not so smart anymore…

      * rant off

    • ian shaw

      Harris:: …they can hide behind our free speech rights”
      Of course. There is no need for free speech rights, since honest people need not hide what they think. As long as it is the same as the official line. Harris, were you educated in Stalin’s Communist paradise?

    • http://necrofiles.blogspot.com Garg Unzola

      Tuks FM is offensive because they don’t take part in the one-sided politically correct neutering? I’m sorry, but being offended is not a valid criticism. Being offended means one is not mature enough to accept that others may have a view that differs from your own, which may still be a valid viewpoint.

      America is also the country where gay marriage is outlawed in certain states. Where is there progressive, PC and offence free campus radio now?

    • Enough Said

      It sounds like TUKS FM probably reflects the conservative thinking of at least 80% of whites currently living in South Africa. They have not progressed much since 1948. The sad thing is if I look at the utterances of the political elite who are currently in power and their supporters, I don’t think they have progressed much in the same time period either. In fact under Zuma/Malema I have seen much regression.

      In the 1970’s and 1980’s, English speaking universities in SA were bastions for liberalism and progressive values, now they are cesspits of incompetent greedy power mongers in charge and filled with moronic students without conscience.

      I would not expect much from student radio in South Africa, no, I would not.

    • Bernpm

      @Dave H: “Unfortunately these students are a product of their social environment that shows we have a long way to go to eradicate the festering racism that has metastasized over the centuries in certain parts of our society.”

      How do you place this Hawks official and his “vaseline” joke?
      How long do we have to go to eradicate the festering prejudice related to the prison population. And…this man is not even a (immature) student but a senior civil servant from a “certain part of our society” and “a product of his social environment”.

    • http://blogroid.wordpress.com blogroid

      There seems to be fundamental flaw in this piece… “Student Radio not what it used to be… ” Used to be … where?

      Your examples relate to “nice” politically correct, foreign places and you then leap to Tuks FM,[ which, you point out plays great music] but has lousy ‘racist’ announcers… Your sub-text being the rather bizarre notion that this former bastion of violent racial attitudes was “at some earlier time less racist”…. Really? I distinctly remember Pretoria U students arriving en masse at Wits during the ’68 Mafeje protests, to beat the hell out of [so-called] White “Witsies”… What you should be saying is that the Auld mindset lives on regardless.

      UJ radio also plays interesting music and has staggeringly poor newsreaders and their presentations are sloppy and routinely angst generating to older listeners who are NOT really their market. Regarding your “sycophantic giggling voices re affirming male superiority”: have you listened recently to SAFM, AM Live with [the otherwise urbane and articulate] Xolani Gwala’s, recently acquired pair of giggling ‘tweeties’ who manage to infuriate their way through whatever random stuff they ‘hysterically’ render unintelligible… Fortunately they are irregular.

      BTW: 400 years ago the so-called ‘Glorious Revolution’ [1688] had not yet happened … You’ll remember [perhaps]The revolution that began the liberation of humanity from millennia of Feudal servitude… the residue of which we still…

    • MLH

      You have campus radio while the rest of us suffer safm, about the least knowledgeable radio station in the world regarding English-speaking interests and culture.
      So, point made and point taken; don’t sink to the same level. Or should I say: try to rise above the same level…you’re down there already. We all expect students to have limitations; you should see the ones at DUT who beat up on security guards when they feel like ‘striking’.

    • http://zamamlanjana.wordpress.com zama mlanjana

      Try UNISA Radio on audiostreaming… http://radio.unisa.ac.za.

    • Kim

      Unfortunately this is a mindset that is current across the country, I hate to generalize for this happens across the world, it has distinct narcissistic tendencies. Student and mainstream, not just radio, but most forms of media.
      When conversing with someone in this regard, their reply was: “We all very mistakenly think internet folk are educated, intelligent and open-minded types … they are not.” Having access to information, does not mean it is used.

    • johnbpatson

      Given the fact that many black, coloured and asian kids now at the University of Pretoria have only gone to formerly all white schools, and have accents just the same as the white kids, how do we know what race they are?
      And if they write the TIA slot does that make them racists too?
      It all reminds me of the old SABC where a frizzy haired, flat nosed, perma-tan white Afrikaaner was kept off TV because he had a good face for radio….

    • george orwell

      UCT radio – what gets me are the sexist jokes.
      The male gaze rules – huge focus on pretty girls, guys getting lucky with blowjobs and so on.

      Also, the level of political analysis is astoundingly poor.