SKYZ Metro FM has become the first commercial radio station in Bulawayo after the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) issued the station with a licence.
The station is one of eight that have been licensed countrywide.
The new licencees bring to 10 the number of commercial radio stations in the country as ZiFM owned by AB Communications and Star FM run by Zimpapers are already operating.
Fairtalk Communications’ Skyz Metro FM beat the Ezra “Tshisa” Sibanda fronted Skies Radio Pvt Ltd trading as Skies Radio and Carryslot Pvt Ltd’s Skyz FM to land the coveted right to broadcast in the city.
Fairtalk – whose chief executive officer is Qhubani Moyo and has among its shareholders Amakhosi founder and celebrated playwright Cont Mhlanga – was also awarded a licence to broadcast in Victoria Falls under the name Breeze FM.
Other stations given the green light to start operations are Zimpapers’ Diamond FM in Mutare, AB Communications’ Gogogoi FM in Masvingo and FAYA FM in Gweru.
Ray of Hope trading as YA FM will be broadcasting from Zvishavane and Kingstons’ two radio stations KE100.4 FM and Nyaminyami FM will be on the airwaves in Harare and Kariba.
Although Skyz Metro FM CEO Moyo and board chairperson Zweli Ndlovu could not be reached for comment, an ecstatic Mhlanga boldly declared that “the big show is in town.”
He said he always viewed existing radio stations as mere “Jukeboxes”.
Mhlanga said the time had come for people in the region to experience “real radio.”
“I feel sorry for people outside Bulawayo. They will soon be clamouring for us to go national after experiencing real radio,” he said.
Mhlanga said Skyz Metro FM was likely to start broadcasting in September.
“The CEO is the one who can give an exact date. However, we hope to be on air within the next six months. We will be broadcasting from Amakhosi Cultural Square,” he said.
BAZ board Chairman Tafataona Mahoso said the licensed radio stations were expected to be on air as soon as possible.
“In order to justify the trust that the public has bestowed upon the new licensees over the use of a public finite resource, the radio frequency spectrum, the licensees are expected to be on air as soon as possible,” he said.
Mahoso said the Authority had invited applications for the provision of local commercial radio broadcasting services in 25 areas of the country and received 21 applications for only nine areas.
He said out of the 21 applicants, 18 were shortlisted as the other three failed to meet the qualification criteria provided in terms of the Broadcasting Services Act.
Mahoso said of the 18 applicants who were shortlisted, five applicants failed to pay the statutory public enquiry fees whilst one applicant withdrew from the licensing process.
“Twelve applicants therefore appeared before the Authority in public enquiries, as required in terms of the Broadcasting Services Act, to determine the suitability of the applicants to be licensed,” he said.
Three applicants, Carryslot Investments trading as Capital FM, Yes Frequency Modulation trading as Yes FM and Kingstons trading as KE100.4 FM sought to broadcast in Harare while in Bulawayo Fairtalk Communications trading as Skyz Metro FM, Skies Radio trading as Skies FM and Carryslot Investments were shortlisted for public inquiries.
Apart from Harare, Kingstons was also shortlisted in Kariba while Fairtalk Communications was shortlisted for Victoria Falls.