MISA Zimbabwe bemoans the closure of the pioneer shortwave radio station, SW Radio Africa, after 13 years of affording Zimbabweans, particularly those residing in marginalised rural communities, access to diverse views and opinions.
The station, which broadcast from London in the United Kingdom on the free –to –air channel, Channel Zim, ceased its broadcasts on 10 August 2014.
The history and evolution of the Zimbabwean media would not be accurately told if the station’s immense contribution during the closure of private daily newspapers were to be omitted especially at a time when the majority of Zimbabweans were left at the mercy of the dominant state-controlled media.
Between 2003 and 2010, SW Radio Africa together with other exiled radio stations such as Voice of the People, Studio 7and online publications, became the most prominent sources of news and views alternative to those churned by the state media and in the process establishing a huge following among Zimbabweans.
The listenership obtains to date as several Zimbabweans, especially those in marginalised communities, are still reliant on radio for news and other pertinent information on matters affecting their lives.
Therefore, the untimely closure of the station has dealt a blow to marginalised rural communities that 34 years after independence, still do not receive transmission of the mainstream public and private radio stations that broadcast in the country on Frequency Modulation (FM).
While the country is in the process of licensing additional private radio stations, the closure of SW Radio Africa does not augur well for the diverse media that Zimbabweans aspire for as they seek to engage and dialogue on the full spectrum of their lives through free and multiple communication platforms.
This is particularly the case as the station has for years carved its own niche in the broadcasting market through fearless radio journalism characterised by topical news stories and hard talk shows on issues that are ordinarily ignored by locally-based radios.
It is MISA-Zimbabwe’s hope that the station will find ways of getting back on air to serve its audience and contribute towards the country’s development.
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