South African radio celebrates 100 years of being on air this year and what better way to do it than with global recognition for one of its most popular stations.

It’s been 100 years since the first radio broadcast crackled over the airwaves in South Africa and one local radio station is celebrating the occasion by making its mark on the world stage.

Johannesburg-based commercial radio station HOT 102.7FM is one of over 40 commercial and public broadcast stations and nearly 300 community stations in South Africa, and is one of the country’s newest, having burst onto the scene a little over 18 months ago.

New York Festivals Radio Awards Nominations

Despite its fledgling status, it has already gained impressive market share in the highly competitive Gauteng radio market in a short space of time and has now made international waves with seven nominations for the prestigious New York Festivals Radio Awards (NYFRA).

“From Northriding to New York!” said Lloyd Madurai, Managing Director of HOT 102.7FM. “This is not just a great story for HOT 102.7FM, but amazing validation and reward for the team’s hard work over the past two years. It’s also a great story for South African radio, showing the industry that Africa can hold its own on the world stage – and on a platform such as NYFRA – which is a bit like the Oscars of the radio industry!”

The BBC, Al Jazeera, Radio-Canada, RTE Radio 1 – Ireland, Sirius XM (USA), Sky (UK), and Virgin Radio UK are among the nominees and HOT 102.7FM’s achievement comes months after receiving 13 nominations and walking away with the coveted ‘My Station – Most Votes’ award at the SA Radio Awards.

The New York Festivals Radio Awards has recognised HOT 102.7FM in seven categories: Best Alternative Music Format; Best Music/Personality Show (Joburg’s Hottest Breakfast Show); Best Music Program Host (Madurai); Best Station ID Imaging; Best News Documentary/Special; Best News Special Report; and Best News Sports Feature.

News Category Nominations

The three news nominations are a feather in the cap for HOT 102.7FM Head of News Tara Penny, who produced the three series in question.

‘Jenny Boekwurm’ featured interviews with the nominees in the Sunday Times Literary Awards, involving literary journalist Jenny Crwys-Williams; ‘The Bully Chain’ saw a month dedicated to dissecting the topic of bullying by telling stories from both the sides of the victim and the perpetrator; whilst ‘The Dylan Down Run’ charted the journey of HOT 102.7FM sports presenter Dylan Rogers, right from the moment he was challenged to run the  Comrades Marathon for charity to when he crossed the finish line in Durban.

“Since joining HOT 102.7FM last year, Tara has made a huge impact on how we deliver and package our news content, bringing a different dimension to our storytelling,” says Madurai. “These nominations are just reward for the many hours she and her team have put in, and the stories are an example of how HOT 102.7FM likes to take a different approach to producing great radio.”

Radio Journey

It’s been quite a journey for Madurai, who got his start in the radio industry at just 13, his first on-air ‘gig’ just a year later, and went on to become the youngest inductee in the South African Radio Hall of Fame.

Now he finds himself up against the likes of UK broadcast legends Graham Norton and Chris Evans in the Best Music Program Host category at the New York Festivals Radio Awards for his Club Classics show, leaving him to contemplate a journey that started over 30 years ago with just a simple love of radio.

“Radio is intimate, immediate, consistent, compelling, engaging, and effective, and a platform that can achieve things other media platforms just cannot get close to achieving,” says Madurai. “It’s a personal relationship between station and listener, and that’s also what makes it so attractive to advertisers – there’s an authenticity that can’t be replicated and that’s what many brands are looking for.”

Madurai can empathise, having spent many years looking for a home for his ‘dream’ radio station and crafting the image of a station that focused on playing ‘old skool’ music that resonated deeply with a particular, focused audience in the upper income/high SEM segment.

That dream was realised on 1 July 2021.

“Despite the challenges of starting a new commercial radio station in a highly competitive market – never mind bang in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic – we have managed to carve out a niche for HOT 102.7FM by focusing on some of the basics that make radio such a great medium, such as great music, high quality presenters, a personal relationship with our audience, and using the power of radio to do good in the community with our Hot Cares initiative and the Hot Radio Training Academy.”

The awards ceremony will take place during the New York Festivals 2023 Storytellers Gala virtual event on the 18th of April, but for Madurai and HOT 102.7FM, the radio journey continues.