Campus radio gets new beat!

A new HEAIDS pilot project entitled "FUTURE BEATS" using campus radio stations to get the attention of young people and break through current “HIV fatigue” was launched in Johannesburg  on 29 May 2014.  “Future Beats” is a youth development and HIV-prevention programme implemented and funded by HEAIDS and the German International Cooperation (GIZ).

The launch was attended by high profile guests and supporters of the programme such as Prof Tawana Kupe, DVC: Finance, HR and Transformation, Wits University; Ms Nicola Wertz, First Secretary at the German Embassy, Focal Area Coordinator HIV Prevention; Dr Jeffrey Mabelebele, CEO of HESA; Mr Chief Mabizela, Chief Director, University Policy and Development: Department of Higher Education and Training; Ms Steve Letsike, Deputy Chairperson of SANAC and Lesley Odendal, Coimmunications Manager at UNAIDS. To give the launch function a bit of a beat, Drama for Life provided a tailor-made drama performance to open the event, as well as a poetry performance to close the function. But for a lot audience members the highlight of the evening was the sex talk between Launch MC Lesley Nkosi and sex blogger Dorothy Black who will support the HEAIDS FUTURE BEATS project in future.

According to HEAIDS’ research among students 70% use the internet several times a week and 73% listen to campus radio at least two days a week – but only eight percent of students found that campus radio programmes made an impact and took on HIV/AIDS issues more seriously. At present, the main focus of campus radio stations is entertainment, business and current affairs.

“It is as if the messages around HIV/AIDS are so prevalent that they have become almost part of the background music – they’re out there but you’re no longer consciously aware of them. Our new approach will hopefully break through the fatigue factor to make the messaging real and get and retain students’ attention. It is an element of our strategy to engage youth in dialogues through community radios, social media and campus media that has always been advocated by the Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and other partners,” says Dr Ramneek Ahluwalia, director of HEAIDS.

  Seven campus radio stations across universities in Gauteng, North West and Limpopo are involved in the first phase of the project during which each station will produce evidence-based, coordinated yet individualised content that talks to their diverse audiences in a meaningful way. The aim is to create greater awareness concerning HIV/AIDS, TB and STIs, as well as related matters, such as human rights, social justice, social, transformation, poverty, youth unemployment, money, alcohol and drug abuse. First programming will be aired by the 7 participating campus stations in August 2014.