Tears, smiles and laughter were shared as VOC and its listeners celebrated the radio station’s 20th year in style on Saturday evening at the Old Mutual campus courtyard in Pinelands. It was a chance to pause and reflect on the station’s humble beginnings and its growth as the foremost community radio station in the country. VOC Drivetime anchor Shafiq Morton, the station’s most seasoned journalist, shared a riveting story about the conception of the radio station and its progress through the years.
“In the 1980s a young SABC technician had a dream of starting a Muslim radio station. The station started broadcasting in 1995 after the deregulation of broadcasters by the then apartheid government. That person was none other than Moegsin Khan (current station manager),” recalled Morton.
With the changing of the media landscape in South Africa, VOC offered something unique to the Muslim community – an exchanging of ideas in Islam.
“In the Muslim community there is no space for debate however VOC offers this,” said Morton.
From an events licence in Ramadan in 1995, a shared licence on 100.4fm, additional frequencies in the Boland and Two Oceans to finally achieving an independent frequency on 91.3fm, VOC’s history is a reflection of the growth of the Muslim community in South Africa. The radio station thrives on the contribution of team of qualified professionals and volunteers. Morton said the only way VOC will continue to thrive is through a community effort.
“VOC has been a collective effort and is still a collective effort today. It is all about team work,” says Morton.
VOC stalwart presenter Shahidah Carlie, the first newsreader on air, said radio was a medium to link people through a shared experience.
“Radio is a means to connect, enlighten and inform people bringing them together,” added Carlie.
VOC offers what other stations fails to and that is a special spiritual connection for its listeners.
“Connectedness to our Creator is what the radio has given us,” enthused Carlie.
VOC’s listeners revelled at the black tie event while the station extended a warm welcome and immense gratitude for the support they received from its loyalists. Guests dug into a 5 course meal while being entertained by some of the Cape Malay music fraternity’s best voices.
“The atmosphere was warm and the food was good,” said a beaming Farida Saal.
“The food and the performance on stage were very nice. I like VOC the most,” added Sharifa Jaffer.
For the most passionate listeners, the evening was a relaxing night out and an opportunity to get up and close with VOC personalities that they listen to daily on the frequency.
“Coming here was beautiful and seeing all the listeners and radio presenters was my highlight. We support VOC and as a result we will participate in the occasion every year,” Farida Saal continued.
“Just seeing everyone face to face and putting a face to a name with the expressions you think they would have on radio is fantastic,” said Gadija Sampson.
“I enjoyed seeing all the presenters especially the one’s of 20 years ago,” said Rogaya Galant.
Given the tough economic times, the event serves as a fundraiser to supplement the income for the station’s daily operations. But no charity event comes without a bit of corporate social investment, and VOC aims to use the funds to make significant contributions to the Gaza Water Project and the annual VOC Bursary Fund.
“It is actually very important to have something like this once or twice a year for the running of the station as it is costly to run a station. But alhamdullilah, we have that support from the community. Our 150 tickets sold out in one week,” said marketing manager Sukayna Johaardien.
“It was all about celebrating VOC’s 20 years of broadcasting. Good entertainment was key and you would have noticed this caused the people to be more relaxed which was what we were aiming for,” said Johaardien.
With the station marking its 20th year, and well into the first year of its independent frequency 91.3fm, staff agree they have much to be thankful for. Through all the setbacks and successes, the station would not be standing without its backbone – the listeners.
“We have to thank our listeners because with their contribution they not only supported their radio station but also celebrated as part of our family. We love to serve our listeners on a daily basis,” says Johaardien. VOC