Forget what you heard, 5fm rocks! – I know most of its avid listeners will concur. With its weekly reach measured at 2 million people nationally, this radio station has evidently risen to become one of the front-runners in commercial radio.
Gareth Cliff on 5fm mornings, Grant and Anele’s “Its not our show, its yours!” and The Fresh Drive are signature shows which are the primary contributors to the station’s progression.
At 6am Gareth Cliff and his team serve breakfast with entertaining humour, at 1pm Grant and Anele make the lunchtime rush a breeze with their natural compatibility and DJ Fresh’s infectious laugh is packaged in the animation of his team at 3pm. These are the shows that get me through the day quite sanely.
Gareth Cliff is popularly known for his candid remarks as a judge on SA Idols and his controversial but witty talk about President Jacob Zuma’s governance – which quite often gets him into trouble. And after his talk show aired on MNET, Gareth is certainly no stranger to South Africans.
His team consists of his inept producer, Damon, the comical Leigh-Ann Mol, Mabale Moloi, the token black girl, Sias du Plessis, the ginger who gives sports updates and Thabo Modisane, the executive producer.
At the break of dawn the team is fully energised ready to entertain their listeners. A popular tune tears through the speakers as Gareth’s voice coaxes people out of bed ahead of a brand new day. Casual discussions about current affairs is the order of the day as the team makes sure its listeners are kept abreast with local and international news.
A “laugh out loud” usually trails after several comments from the show’s host or his incumbent producer, who always sounds like he’s shouting from the other end of the studio. Leigh-Ann Mol reads the news. She’s awesome. Her alcoholic tendencies and her life as a divorcee shared with her cats add a lot of quirkiness. Mabale’s originally from QwaQwa and her stories about her donkey Motlalepule add more silliness. Sias is the red head often getting picked on and Thabo Modisane with feather duster in hand picks out the vinyl for the daily “old school” tune.
Amid endless laughter and quirky sound clips downloaded off YouTube are features such as “The Poll with Mol” and “News to use or snooze”. Listeners are kept from station hopping by often being encouraged to call in to try their luck at winning awesome prizes such as smartphones or overseas trips. The most recent competition required people to put on their best English accent in an attempt to win a trip to London. The hilarious part about this was the blatant chuckles from Gareth and his team as people dismally failed to mimic the Brits.
Its never all rosy though, the show is often tainted by Gareth’s cynicism which often reaches boiling point for many listeners. He is, however, radically outspoken, which renders other radio DJs quite meek.
Gareth’s breakfast is the craziest wake up call hence it is no surprise that radios in cars, in offices, on cellphones or mobile radio devices are tuned to the power of 5 every morning.
Equally as entertaining is the “Big Dawg” and his team on the Fresh Drive. After a long day at work and the misfortune of being stuck in excruating peak traffic, the show is thoroughly enjoyable and refreshing.
Fresh is the main guy who bounces his jokes off Katherine, the traffic chick, Poppy, the newsreader, Owen the sports guy and a random coloured guy known only as Tyron. The team is so congruous in studio and it flows noticeably through the airwaves. Everyday is a party and Fresh is the DJ who plays the latest tunes. While listeners try their luck at guessing TV shows or adverts in an attempt to win couch potato tees, DJ Kent and Euphonik are SA’s top DJs who showcase their mixes on the popular ultimix at 6. These are the regular features that keep listeners tuned in daily.
Fresh is a huge South African personality who has an enormous following and this is subsequently the case for his show. His twitter followers are often lured into tuning onto The Fresh Drive as regular tweets about the show are often streamed the entire four hours.
The show could be cooler if it wasn’t used to flaunt Fresh or Poppy’s celebrity lifestyles. They try to diversify the show but often fail. Avid listeners with the most modest lifestyles who couldn’t be bothered about Poppy’s favourite pastime, could easily be turned off and permanently listen to another station. It may be their show but its not about them really, its about entertaining their listeners.
With their show entitled “Its not our show – its yours!”, Grant and Anele have managed to get this basic principle right. These two are known to add their own taste to the mix by being less dramatic and have a much smaller team with only three members.
The duo made their debut on 94.7 Highveld Stereo after which they spread their horizons onto the national landscape. Angie Khumalo reads the news and often chips in to balance out the monotone of one of radio’s famous co-hosts. The show is a mixture of latest songs, call-ins and lengthy links about random things. Sometimes Anele’s big personality sounds overbearing but Grant somehow manages to assert himself. I must admit, the pair initially got under my skin with their endless bickering but after being subjected to them on our office radio everyday, they’ve kind of grown on me.
5fm is successfully reaching a larger audience and relates to a more diverse group of people because it keeps its image young, relevant and appealing. It optimises the information culture that we live in by constantly interacting with its listeners through Facebook, Twitter and its user friendly website. And with the recent launch of its TV show, to the Power of 5 on SABC 3, listenership will probably break the sound barrier if and only if the production keeps working hard at it – its that simple.