By Setumo-Thebe Mohlomi
Rhodes Music Radio’s con-stant efforts to deliver a bet-ter, more professional service have taken the form of significant structural changes to its studios and a complete replacement of its out-dated equipment. It has been said that the project will result in RMR having the second-best equipped studios in the Eastern Cape after Algoa FM.The renovations are part of an attempt being made by RMR to reduce external sound interruptions often stemming from the adja-cent union club.
Sound Fusion, a Johannesburg based company with extensive experience in this field, is responsible for the renovations.According to a Sound Fusion employee who wishes to remain anonymous, “Any studio with win-dows that can open (like RMR had) is not a good one.” An air conditioning system and extractor fan are being installed to replace windows in the studio’s booth. Changes to Station Manager Michael “Wigga” Smurthwaite’s offic-es are also part of the project.
Judging by the progress made so far, the studios should look radically different once the renovations have been completed.Most of RMR’s 15-year-old equip-ment is being replaced by brand new, state-of-the-art studio gear, some of which has been imported. Microphones, monitor speakers, three PCs, a sound processor, links which send signals to RMR’s trans-mitter sites and digital clocks are just some of the gadgets on the impressive list of new equipment to be installed. All this, however, does not directly affect the listener.
What matters to Rhodes students, and to the general public, is how the service RMR deliv-ers as a station will improve when regular broadcasting resumes. One of RMR’s greatest shortcomings has been inconsistent reception both on campus and in the greater Grahamstown area. “Sometimes it’s loud and sometimes you can’t pick it up,” says Smurthwaite. Acquiring resources for RMR has been challenging at times. The station has had to resort to collaborating with the university and external sponsors to fund the project. In an era where radio stations owned by large companies cause smaller radio stations to close, it is vital for community radio stations like RMR to continue broadcasting competitively.
RMR addresses per-tinent issues in the Grahamstown area by producing various pro-grammes targeted at the community. The station also backs several char-ity organisations, offering exposure to their causes, and collecting cloth-ing from campus for distribution to different charity organisations. RMR is planning a student event in celebration of the new studios and an advertising campaign to secure more campus listenership.
The campaign includes a give away drive and poster campaign. A cele-bration of RMR’s 25th anniversary is being planned for August this year.