Community radio plays an integral part in the South African dialogue and the sharing of information at grass root level but the sector is challenged financially, fails to creating sustainable  employment and challenges of board interference. Also, matters around regulation and distribution appear to continually hamstring the industry.

These above sentiments were expressed during the session on community media, moderated by  Professor Franz Kruger, joined by  Collin Mashile who is the chief director at the department of communication, Garth Damarell who is the station manager at RSTFM in Kimberly,  Thabang Pushoyabone station manager of RiversideFM as part of the panel.

At the start of the discussion, Prof Franz Kruger said community radio is the feeder to discover new talent.

Chief Director of the department of communication Collin Mashile said throughout the years there has been a problem of governance in the department adding that the department has been talking for too long without taking any action.

Mashile believes that government and stakeholders need to come up with solutions in funding community radio stations around the country; however station manager at RSTFM Garth Damarell disagreed that government is using up all the money it has to support community radio saying that, “Government lacks community skills and gross maladministration hence putting the blame on community radios.

But Mashile from the department said community radio stations must know what they want to contribute to national saying, “We want stations to play a role in democracy”.

Meanwhile, Thabang Pushoyabone was adamant the impact of community radio is huge but conceded to the challenges facing the sector.

Gareth Damarell was very heated during the discussion saying that even Government information System doesn’t provide for community radio stations.

The sentiment of all three panellists was that both Government and community radio stations must work hand in hand to create a prospers future for the radio industry.

Thabo Tshabalala

(Edited by Simbarashe Honde)