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Social media saves Africa’s oldest community radio

When a financial crisis threatened the existence of Africa’s oldest community station, Bush Radio, an outpouring of sympathy and appeals went viral on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. In the end, it was this outspoken support that showed financial backers that the station was worth saving.

Bush Radio broadcasts to at least 260,000 listeners, predominantly in the poor Cape Flats, formerly an apartheid housing area for black people. But thanks to social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a blog, Bush Radio now maintains a strong presence in the community.

For the last 20 years Radio Bush has not only been a valuable source of information for its thousand listeners but developed as a provider of broadcast training to individuals, radio stations and media institutions in Africa, with a special focus on Southern Africa.

From campaigning against the apartheid government for a free and independent broadcasting authority, to being present on Cape Town’s Grand Parade when Nelson Mandela addressed the nation as a free man, Radio Bush has played an indelible part in the shaping of the history of the new South Africa.

Over the past three years, this pioneering radio station and training centre has been hit hard by the current economic climate, recently resulting in it having to re-evaluate its operations in order to remain sustainable and influential in this fast-changing and exciting environment.