The GOOD NEWS radio station


Currently spending a few days in the beautiful city of Cape Town and a station on pre-set in my rental car is called Smile Radio. I loved the name so gave it a listen. 

It’s running with an ‘80s, 90s and now’ proposition with a 60/40 music to speech ratio, a bit like the old Century radio format. That, in itself, is not their difference. Instead, it is their rather unique approach to news and what they do and say between the songs. It is getting a lot of talkability in this hugely competitive market.  

They deliberately focus on the positive, beginning each bulletin with a ‘good news’ story with a recap at the end. Everything from the presentation, imaging and music offers a positive feel, and to be honest, stands out across a busy dial.  Clive Ridgway, the Programme Director, offers this view of the news output:  His explanation is worth reading.  

Do you agree with it? In the UK, we often hear and read big headlines about how the health service has missed their Cancer target for the treatment of patients but what about the 90% who are seen and the millions already saved? Is that not something to focus on rather than the down side? It's a debate worth having. 

Today, I met the impressive MD Lois O'Brien in her plush new studios. So new in fact that there was no furniture in reception as yet. She pointed out that they don’t ignore difficult issues. If a train operator has big delays they focus on what they are doing to rectify the problem rather than constantly highlighting those who are complaining. That’s a given! If there was unrest or a local murder for example, once they’ve reported the facts they would want to highlight how the community is supporting each other. Something good coming from something bad!     

Neither do they constantly feed the negative, insisting there is always something more constructive to go on if you search hard enough for it. When they first launched this idea there was some difficulty getting journalists on board. That said, she believes they are all as one now and convinced it’s making a difference quoting climbing audience figures, good client comments and the positive sound of the station overall. Certainly, within the building itself, you can taste the feel-good factor with a lot of people smiling for sure.  

To be honest, I kind of like it. It's not for everyone but it could be for someone. Many call it constructive journalism, and, in my view, is a really positive attitude to take. Lois is a determined, crafty and vastly experienced MD. She knows the market, she knows her team. Best of all, she's surrounded herself with some wonderful talent. 

In a depressive, downbeat world where bad news is everywhere; it’s good to tune into a station that's challenging the norm, and is proud to do so. Bottom line? Smile 90.4FM appears to be working!  

Would it work here?  

Always good to come across interesting formats. 

Cyclone Digital