35 Years of success

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Jolene du Plessis, Albé Grobbelaar en Manie Kitching met die heel eerste radio-uitsending op 1 Julie 1986 vanuit Bloemfontein.

OFM, Central South Africa’s number one radio station, is a whole 35 years “young” this year! From the station’s humble beginnings in 1985 as an SABC evening broadcast of Radio Highveld in Bloemfontein, covering the central South African region, it developed into having its own station, Radio Oranje in 1986.

In 2002, adopting its current name and format as well as a radical presenter line-up shift, which signalled the end of the Radio Oranje sound, OFM has grown into the popular Sound Of Your Life radio station it is today. The station also launched a new logo, look and corporate identity in 2006, finally putting the past behind it. The change in focus saw the station appealing to a broader base of listeners.

Mettertyd, soos die jare verloop het, het die stasie betrokke geraak by groot geleenthede, wat die jaarlikse OFM Classicfietsresies in Bloemfontein, die Image Plus Roadshow, en die jaarlikse Radio Oranje-sangtalentkompetisie ingesluit het.

Volgens Nick Efstathiou, hoof- uitvoerende beampte van die Central Media Group (moedermaatskappy van OFM), lê die gemeenskap na aan die hart van die stasie. “Daar was talle fondsinsamelings- en liefdadigheidsprojekte oor die jare, soos toe Welkom deur ‘n tornado getref is in 1990, en toe ‘n mynverwante aardbewing chaos in Stilfontein veroorsaak het in 2005.”

Hy voeg by dat die radiostasie ook ‘n noodfonds geskep het vir die slagoffers van die Merriespruitramp toe ‘n dam van die myn op die Vrystaat Goudveld in 1994 gebreek het. Verder was daar musiekkonserte, gholfdae en kombersinsamelings georganiseer – alles om mense in nood te help.

Former CEO of CMG, Gary Stroebel, said that the audience initially reacted with derision, but audience numbers started to swell, and the station never looked back as the new sound reflected modern trends, not only in broadcasting, but also music.

OFM has also won its fair share of awards at the Artes, Loeries, Pendoring, South Africa’s radio industry awards, and many others. The station’s various departments, including news and advertising, have shown that they can compete with the best in the business… and win.

Voormalige besturende direkteur van OFM, Albé Grobbelaar, sê hy glo een van die hoofredes vir die stasie se sukses asook die lojaliteit van luisteraars en kliënte oor die jare, was nog altyd die feit dat die stasie uit die streek ‘n stasie vir die streeks is, met sy fokus op plaaslike musiek.

“Bykomend hiertoe was OFM, met talentvolle mense wat die programmering, nuus, produksie – tegnies en aan bestuurskant – in staat om gedurig nuwe uitdagings te konfronteer en daarby aan te pas.” Grobbelaar sê die stasie kan trots wees op die hoeveelheid mense wat nasionaal, regoor die land groot hoogtes bereik het in die uitsaaiwese; dit gebaseer op die fondasie wat deur OFM gelê is en wat hulle in hul jare van uitsending by OFM geleer het.

Although it is impossible to mention all the memorable voices who gained a loyal following among OFM’s audience over the past almost four decades, longtime listeners will remember legendary presenters such as Manie Kitching, Bruce McEwan, Eddie Goldberg, Pieter du Bois, Eloise Pretorius, Angie Khumalo, Riva Schoeman, Tim Thabethe (the current programme manager), Johrné van Huyssteen, Christie Hansen, Karien Jordaan, Pieter Möller, Darren Scott and Rian van Heerden. Another well-known name, although behind the scenes, was the beloved Afrikaans musician, Lucas Maree, who was the music compiler.