- The 25th of June 2012, was the day StarFm went live, marking the first ever commercial radio to operate in Zimbabwe, since independence. When it hit the airwaves, Zimbabweans were skeptical about the potential of yet another state run institution to change airwaves.
Two months later, on the 14th of 2012, Zifm Stereo went live, yes it was another Zanu Pf linked radio station but this time, it spoke much to the young and elite community of Zimbabwe, it had the right beat, groove and style to take over urban music. Just in its first few months Zimbabweans were tuning in.
The major trump card here was not just of content, both radio stations were pretty new, but there is a major technicality that made StarFm the lucky kid. It got the right frequency range. It first went live broadcasting on 89.7 and in Harare and 93.1 in Bulawayo.
This is just how Lucky StarFm was!
While they still had a bit of confusion over their content, Zifm Stereo came in to the party a little late with cool music vibes, international feel and touch, good programs but got it all wrong by settling over 106.4 in Harare and 106.7 in Bulawayo over frequency modulation (FM).
This is how the FM game played out in Zimbabwe. For the rest of people who really cared to try radio again after the death of the then PowerFM giant, after government forced 70% local content, the then power House went on an over drive which turned away listenership due to poor content.
Radio was now a white elephant and millions from the urban community really did not care much about radio stations, the love of radio and for both news and entertainment had sharply declined, just as it did for TV, mainly because both radio and Tv were being run by ZBC, which dismally failed to run both radio and tv stations in Zimbabwe.
Admire Taderera was the man behind the FM invasion, he made radio sound so good that you could watch it. It was slowly making sense, he made it it exciting and a whole lot more interesting, but probably, as a veteran broadcaster, he was more linked to fun than business.
He was not making the money, he simply made the fun. they fired him, and he stroked, the rest is now history!
On the other hand, Zifm Stereo, was slowly conquering the youths, they had a classic touch, the dancehall programmes to date are mad! The music selection was amazing, program presentation perfect and not to mention their Djs and presenters were simply world class.
Unfortunately they lost a bunch of these presenters but the ship was already trailing behind StarFm. StarFm kept getting better and grew its listenership.
We do not subscribe to the Zamps survey, which are nothing much but estimates which are debatable, but yet still these are not really off when it comes to describing StarFm popularity.
The major error on Zifm stereo was on frequency allocation. this is their major set back which they may never fix at all. they got a frequency range which outside the reach of millions of listenership on the road.
The most popular radio show on Starfm comes in during drive time which is your 3-6pm after working hours or 7-10am meaning millions are actually driving to or from work, during this time. There is no better time to listen to radio than when one is driving and luckily the 89.7 band is the last radio band for most Japanese cars and Kombis plighting our routes.
Millions of cars and Kombis in Zimbabwe are ex Jap cars, they probably are more than 80% of all cars in our roads today, and these have maximum radio frequency of 90.1 FM. Technically, this simply means that most Zimbabweans can only receive as far as StarFm.
Both Zifm Stereo frequencies are out of range to many ex-Jap cars, meaning even if Zimbabweans would want to listen, they simply can not do it by default.
While they still struggled with all this technicality, StarFm was firming and capacitating. its content greatly improved, radio show became better, their DJs quickly matured and got on the ropes and their Outside Broadcasts (OB) were rocking and advertisers believed more in them as the radio continuously grew.
This had an obvious financial implication making them shoot a cool 26% in revenue generation, which is likely going to rise as they maintain a good market share and integrating more digital services for the audience.
To date, they seem to be much more technologically aligned, they have a better digital strategy to deliver their content as they focus on the emerging market. instead of simply being available online, they are engaging better and continuously keep optimizing the platform as the content generation has become way better. Ofcourse they also made some serious glaring digital errors on their way up.
To date ZiFM is highly stereotyped as a station for the upmarket and young generation, while Starfm has famed as an all inclusive national radio station which dovetails on matters across the whole socio_economic sectors in Zimbabwe.