Legendary radio presenter, Jeremy Mansfield, has returned to the airwaves as the host of Hot 91.9 FM’s all-new morning show, Mansfield in the Morning.  After only 2 weeks, it is evident that Jeremy’s big personality has brought a fresh, fun energy to morning radio.  Jeremy seems to have received a resounding welcome from listeners not only in Joburg, but across the globe, from Zimbabwe, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and more.

The Martinengo Debacle

It’s just over a month since Joburg’s Hottest Breakfast show was rocked by Sasha Martinengo’s now infamous utterance – referring to political party leader Julius Malema as a “monkey” – on live radio. This saw the much-loved personality being dismissed from the radio station almost immediately.

I watched with interest as a storm erupted on social media and heated debate ensued. Clear lines were drawn – with a dedicated Sasha camp being formed on one end and a loyal Hot 91.9 following, supporting Managing Director, Lloyd Madurai’s decision.  Within 24 hours of the incident, the station’s Facebook group following dropped from 27 000 odd supporters to just over 20 000.

Radio Personalities are Brand Ambassadors

Big personalities like Mansfield and Martinengo are an integral part of a radio station’s marketing mix.  Listeners don’t tune into a station just to hear good music, the latest news, be entertained, but also to connect with personalities, the people that form the radio station’s character and persona.

Undoubtedly, the breakfast show, and indeed the radio station took a beating.  After all Sasha Martinengo is a big personality and like many of the Hot 91.9 DJs and presenters , he was not only the host of Joburg’s Hottest Breakfast Show, but is a prominent personality and celebrity with a loyal following and, was a brand ambassador for Hot 91.9.  With his departure, a certain “spark” was missing from the breakfast show. Some listeners moved on, the competitions dwindled, and some naysayers even predicted the end of Hot 91.9.

Radio and Digital – the Perfect Media Partnership

The impact of digital and social media was evident throughout this period and speaks of the unique partnership that radio and digital have formed.  They feed off each other and followers and listeners use both platforms to express their support and loyalty, and to communicate, often quite frankly, when they are not happy. 

“Radio and digital form the perfect Media Partnership”, says Richard Taylor, head of Lab 42 at Mediamark , in his article featured on Media Update.  “As digital technology reshapes the South African media landscape, one constant is the important role of radio and its positive outlook for the future.  Per the Radio Audience Measurement survey, 35.7 million people listen to radio regularly with an average listening time of nearly four hours a day. That means radio still reaches significantly more people than the Internet.  Each channel has enormous reach on its own, but the picture gets interesting when we consider the overlaps and synergies between them.”- concludes Taylor.

Getting the marketing mix right

The Marketing MixThis marketing mix of radio and digital is one that can propel Hot 91.9 beyond the success that it has enjoyed in the 4 years since it launched in November 2014.  As the listener-ship continues to grow, sponsors and advertisers want to put their brands in front of listeners. 

Jeremy ticks all the right boxes. Not only as the new host of the breakfast show, but as a significant element in the station’s marketing mix.  Adding Mansfield to the mix was a strategic marketing decision. His lengthy career in radio spans from his debut with Capital Radio 604 in 1985, on to 702 Talk Radio, and his very popular Rude Awakening show on 94.7 which he hosted from 1997 – 2010 after which he retired from radio altogether, having grown a huge following from station to station.

In the days after the Martinengo debacle, Hot’s management and marketing team had to think on their feet and come up with a plan that would minimize the damage and alleviate the risk of losing not only listeners, but key sponsors and advertisers. 

For a Community Radio Station like Hot 91.9, one could even argue that strategic, clever marketing is the backbone of the station.  As a registered non-profit organization, Hot’s advertisers and sponsors are its bread and butter.  Advertisers pay the bills. Sponsors offering interactive competitions for the listeners, draw the audience in and grow the station’s popularity even more.  A magnetic personality like Jeremy Mansfield, is one that sponsors, and advertisers have consistently been happy to associate their brand with.

Music radio is a feel-good platform.  The buzz on the morning show and afternoon drive is what accompanies many listeners on their daily commute to and from work.  Listeners don’t want negativity or political issues.  Happy listeners = happy advertisers and happy sponsors. The right mix of music, engaging content, entertaining personalities, active and generous sponsors and advertisers, relevant and sustainable community initiatives is a recipe for success for Hot 91.9. For some, listening to Mansfield again may just be viewed as a pleasant surprise – an assumption that he just got bored of retirement and took on another radio opportunity. But in fact, this hiring was fundamental to the station’s need for a personality that would draw its listeners back, keep them happy as well as excite the advertisers and sponsors who make up the marketing mix.