Ukhozi FM is one of the biggest radio stations on the planet and the largest in Africa with its listener-ship in constant access of 7.7 million over the past decade. Ukhozi FM broadcasts mainly in IsiZulu and loosely targets IsiZulu speaking and understanding audiences in South Africa.
Ukhozi FM’s headquarters is in KwaZulu Natal, Durban, with its iconic personalities easily recognized throughout the country The station caters to people ranging from young to elderly, specifically the youth…reinforcing a sense of pride and culture to the young people of South Africa.
The Station has great stature and sway that is unmatched and uses its platform to keep its listeners connected to their culture identity in a modern world context. With its influence exceeding that of many media player in SA, Ukhozi FM infuses its listeners with aspiration to be better, smarter and dream bigger.
Critically acclaimed for its useful content that is delivered with poise and deftness, affirming the cultural identity of its listeners, Ukhozi FM focuses on Edutainment and Infotainment as a guiding philosophy.
Ukhozi FM provides an interactive environment for its listeners, affording them access to News, Current Affairs, and Talk shows, Music, Drama, Sport, Education, Weather and Traffic, with much emphasis on local content.
Overall, the station’s precedence is to provide a foundation of upliftment, power, comfort, escapism, connectedness and culture to its listeners. Ukhozi FM continues to retain its number one spot as the country's most loved and listened radio station. Feel the spirit of Ukhozi FM, ..Feel it. The SABC is here!
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K.E. Masinga - The Pioneer of the Airwaves and the Black Radio Stations in South Africa
On the 23rd of December 1941, King Edward Masinga, a teacher by profession, walked down Aliwal Street in Durban, and came across a building under wartime guard. He ascertained that the building was a broadcasting station. For some time, Masinga had been feeling bored with the teaching profession, so he decided to make a personal application at the broadcasting station. After a great deal of persuasion, he was led into Mr. Hugh Tracy's office, who was the SABC's Regional Superintendent. Mr. Tracy told him blatantly that there was no vacancy for an educated black man. The only black employees he had were tea-boys and cleaners. After a few minutes of their conversation, Mr. Tracy discovered that K.E. Masinga was highly knowledgeable. As a student of anthropology, Mr. Tracy realized that he could learn a lot from Mr. K.E. Masinga. He then told Masinga that there was a need for first-hand war information to be given out to Africans, who depended mostly on word-of-mouth for the news. This was during the Second World War.
On the same day, 23rd December 1941, history was made when K. E. Masinga read the first 3 minutes news bulletin in isiZulu at 7:30pm. Up to that time, South Africa had only English and Afrikaans services. Special services in African languages were introduced by the SABC on the 29th of September 1942, broadcasting from 9:30am on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Employers of blacks were urged by the Department of Native Affairs to encourage their employees to listen to the programmes. The main aim was to inform blacks about the progress of the war, and to instruct them of the action to take in case of any emergency. Some years later, black radio stations started broadcasting on medium wave under the umbrella name of Radio Bantu.
K E Masinga was later joined by Hubert Sishi, and Guybon Mpanza. They were very creative and versatile; and listeners used to refer to them as "the threesome". As years went by, Radio Bantu expanded in listenership, staff and programming. The most popular programmes were live soccer and boxing broadcasts, drama and serials, music and request programmes. Drama and serials emphasized good morals, were highly entertaining, and were a huge draw card for the station.
By 1960, the station was broadcasting from 5:30 am to 11:00pm. Its format had also expanded to include informative campaigns. In 1961, when the country became the Republic of South Africa, a song explaining about the new South African currency was played as often as possible. This was of great help to the listeners. In 1962, the first radio commercials in African languages were aired. Staff members were taken to Johannesburg for training on the development, recording and playing of radio commercials. This increased the revenue for the stations, and in turn, the financial muscle sped up the development and growth process of the black radio stations. In 1971, when the metric system was introduced in the country, programmes dealing with the practical part of it were broadcast every morning, and this information was invaluable to the listeners.
Mr. C. D. Fuchs, who was the head of the black services, played a major role in responding positively to K. E. Masinga's request to extend the airtime. Masinga was so grateful that he named Mr. Fuchs the father of Radio Bantu. "No, I can't accept that title. You deserve it, because you were the first black broadcaster. All I did was to forward your request to our seniors. So you are the Father of Radio Bantu," responded Mr. Fuchs. Eventually, the title stuck to KE Masinga.
In 1963, Radio Bantu operated fully on frequency modulation. At this time, the manager for the Nguni services was Mr Berry Steyn, while Mr Van Heerden "Joko" was managing the Sotho services. Mr Kurt Verner was the programme organizer or (Station Manager) for the Zulu Service. 40% of the Zulu broadcasters were based in Johannesburg ad the other 60% were in Durban. From 05:00 to 10:00 the station would broadcast from Durban and from 10:00 to 14:00 from Johannesburg, from 14:00 to 23:00 from Durban again. In 1971, the majority of the Johannesburg came down to Durban and three remained in Johannesburg for Sports, Swazi and Ndebele programmes.
In 1975, the name Radio Bantu was abandoned and all the Black Radio Stations were given new names under ethnic groupings, such as Radio Zulu, Radio Xhosa, Radio Venda, Radio Sotho and so forth. This was in line with the theory of separate development and the divide-and-rule policy of the previous government. From the early 80's to mid 90's the SABC staged the Artes Awards competitions which were divided into two. The 9 black radio stations would compete against one another, while the white radio stations had their own competitions. Radio Zulu used to come up tops in all the categories.
In 1991, Rev Hawu Mbatha succeeded Mr Ernie Hilder to become the first black Radio Zulu Manager. After about three years, he moved to a higher position within the SABC in Johannesburg. He was succeeded by Miss Zamambo Mkhize, who was in turn was succeeded by Mr Noel Yeni, and later Mr. Welcome Nzimande.In April 2010 Mr Nzimande took an early retirement and Mr Bonga Mpanza is currently acting as a Station Manager
The spirit of the rainbow nation did not allow the black radio stations to keep their ethnic names and as a result, in 1996 they were all changed. Radio Zulu became Ukhozi FM, Radio Xhosa was named Umhlobo Wenene FM, Radio Sotho became Lesedi FM and so on.
Today, Ukhozi FM is the biggest radio station in Africa and the second biggest in the world. In 1990, Mr K R Masinga, Shobane kaMangethe, moved on to a higher world, but his legacy, Ukhozi FM continues to fly higher and higher
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