“At twenty-one, so many things appear solid, permanent, untenable.” — Orson Welles
While the first of September ushers in Spring, it also marks VOC’s birthday. Today, VOC celebrates its 21st year on air. On the 1st September 1995, VOC started broadcasting on a permanent licence, making it the first Muslim community broadcaster in South Africa.
This followed the station’s initial broadcast in Ramadan of January 1995, a historic moment for the Muslim community. VOC remains one of the most listened to community radio stations in South Africa.
Broadcast areas include the Cape Town CBD, Athlone, Mitchells Plain, Belhar, Strandfontein, Pelican Heights, Wynberg areas, Kensington, Parow, Bellville, and Boland areas like Strand and surroundings.
The past 21 years were not without challenges. VOC’s station management preserved for ten years to have the station move to its own frequency. After a lot of attempts and patience, this dream was finally realised in June 2013 when the station gained the 91.3fm frequency.
Compared to the shared frequency on 110.4fm, this new frequency is five times louder than its previous output. The frequency was reclassified for use by VOC and covers much of the same footprint as its previous 100.4fm frequency, but with a larger penetration.
“Listeners shouldn’t change their dials,” said Achmat Jacobs, the Chairman of the Muslim Broadcasting Corporation Management Board at the time of the 91.3fm launch.
VOC first went on air in Ramadan (January) 1995 for five days. The first Muslim community radio station in the country was so well received that between 80 000 and 100 000 Muslims were mobilised at the V&A Waterfront on the final night of broadcast to sign petitions calling for a permanent broadcasting license.
Various applications were made and high level meetings were held between various Muslim groups to arrive at a sustainable solution. Eventually, this led to two Muslim radio stations being approved – on the same frequency.
However, the then Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) saw no reason why community radio stations serving the same niche audience required separate frequencies. This led to VOC having to share the 100.4fm frequency on an alternate day basis.
According to VOC station manager, Moegsin Khan, one of the biggest advantages of the new frequency is the consistency that it will bring to listeners daily and the added advantage of a stronger signal strength.
VOC programme manager Rashieda Davids said the station would never have survived without its ardent listeners.
“It’s really through the duas, and the support of our listenership that VOC remains steadfast in our community. Be it through small donations, acts of kindness, showing up at our OBs or events, or a simple dua, our listeners made it happen. We ask them to continue to keep us and the station in their duas, Ameen.” VOC