eRadio celebrates 2 years On Air: A word from founder Eon Engelbrecht

A word from eRadio Founder, Eon Engelbrecht:

For those of you who don’t know the story behind eRadio… It started with an idea in the middle of the first Lockdown in 2020 – With all the negativity and fear that was going around in the media at that stage, I found that my mental health was suffering quite a bit and decided to do something about it.

There was a desperate need for a positive platform. One that offers its listeners escapism in the form of more music and less talk – and when there’s speech it should be interesting and positive. Being interested in radio since I was a kid (and broadcasting professionally since 2011), I decided that the time was right for me to do something I’ve always wanted to do – start my very own radio station.

I’ve been playing with radios and cassettes since I was a kid, recording my voice in-between songs that I ‘taped’ off the radio. It drove my folks insane because I talked far too much, used all their cassettes and they couldn’t come into my room when I was doing one of my “shows”. Stuffed animals (or friends) were my studio guests and a plastic till was my jingle cart. In school I was often punished for talking too much. Now it’s my career. Life is a funny thing.

The idea

I shared the concept of eRadio with my very straight-forward brother, Chris. If it was crap, he would say so. I decided beforehand that if he shot it down, I’d leave it. I felt vulnerable but at the same time, brave. As I shared the idea with him, his face lit up like a Christmas tree and he enthusiastically told me to go for it. “What are you going to call it?,” he asked. I handed him a yellow Post-it note with the name (see at bottom of this post). His response fired all engines. The rest is history. Thanks Chris (He’s also the man behind the eRadio website).

Small beginnings

On the 1st of September 2020, eRadio officially went live (after a month of test broadcasts). It initially started as a bedroom radio station in the small Garden Route town of Sedgefield, South Africa. Armed with the basics (my slow laptop, audio mixer, a microphone donated by a dear friend), music and a BIG dream, I started broadcasting from my very own bedroom, this time for real. My view was a cupboard.

Rocky terrain 

The next 2 years were filled with experiments of what works and what doesn’t work. Starting a new venture in the midst of a global pandemic is incredibly risky. It takes big balls and understandably it came with its fair share of challenges. These involved advertisers withdrawing due to budget constraints or simply because they tanked as a result of the pandemic. The average person does not realise that a radio station (digital or FM) is 100% funded by the advertisers and sponsors. They are the pillars on which the station relies to cover its overheads.

The other big challenge was facing the unknown and rocky road of digital radio, especially in South Africa, where it’s still a newish and sometimes frowned-upon medium. This changed drastically over the past 2 years as internet access became more affordable and people spent more time online. This counted in our favour.

Why Digital?

It’s the future and the pandemic showed us that. Getting a traditional FM broadcasting licence in South Africa is near impossible in this day and age. Unnecessary red tape and politics. I refuse to participate in that. While traditional FM is more accessible and more local, It’s simply not worth the heart attack.

Less glamour, more sweat 

eRadio had some really good contributors (presenters) in the past. Some decided to hang up the mic after a while when they realised that radio wasn’t all glitz and glamour, a general misconception. When they saw how much work it involves, they ran. Some took the mic with them…

Making a difference

Radio is a friend, a companion, a lifeline. eRadio became a lifeline – some listeners tune in to escape, to enjoy the uplifting music or hear the feel-good stories. Getting feedback and hearing how it makes a difference is the highlight of my day. If I can put a smile on just ONE face a day, I’m happy. Or hearing how an advertiser scored a big client as a result of their ads on eRadio… Absolutely priceless. It makes the hard work, sometimes until 4am, worth it.

Radio is also a lifeline for me, because it gives me purpose to entertain and inform. It’s how I express myself creatively. This can also be challenging at times when you have to put on your happy voice, but you’re actually having a bad day. Thank God I don’t work in television. Those who know me really well, will know that I am actually an introvert and a really private person. I’m just pretending to be an extrovert, and while this can be fun, it’s also very draining. I read somewhere that most good broadcasters are actually introverts. Good to know.

99% Music

The content changed quite a bit but the one thing that remained consistent on eRadio was the quality of the broadcasts and music. eRadio broadcasts across all platforms using the latest AAC+ streaming technology. I don’t want to get too technical but what this means is you get much more quality and it chows less of your data. That’s nice if you don’t have an uncapped internet connection at home or using Mobile Data in your car.

I’m a firm believer in consistency. eRadio broadcasts hits from the 80’s right up to the latest songs, 24 hours a day. Our listeners are between the ages of 25 and 55. There’s a specific happy-sound we’re going for. When you hear it, you’ll know it’s eRadio. That involves being very selective when it comes to music, especially the new releases. eRadio’s content ratio was always to be a music station with 99% music and 1% talk. The 1% talk equals the daily news updates and weekly contributors. Not the endless yapping of an ego-inflated presenter who’s bragging about his night out.

Two years later

Today, 2 years later, the station has its own private studio overlooking the beautiful Knysna lagoon and is totally ‘loadshedding-resistant’. The station features various content contributors, covering everything from technology to law. These go out first on air in their regular slots and then available as podcasts for those who missed it. This includes Spotify.

Content-wise, I firmly believe that we’ve only scratched the surface. There’s so much I still envision for this station – the big challenge is finding the right people. At the same time, I also believe in quality over quantity.

Anyone can start an internet radio station in their bedroom but it’s a completely different story to maintain it as a business, grow your listenership and make it profitable. Over the past 2 years, we’ve been able to get all 3 right.

Advice for the dreamers

If you’re reading this and you have a dream that you want to turn into reality, go for it. Do your homework. Be realistic. Take risks but be responsible. Let the doubters and haters fuel you. There will be many, including your own blood. They’ll tell you to get a real job. Prove them wrong. Let your success make the noise. Doing your own thing is scary, especially in this economy, but it’s WORTH IT.

A word of thanks

Radio is the thing I do, besides eating, drinking and sleeping. It’s not a job, it’s a passion. A special word of thanks to everyone (past and present) who contributed to eRadio and who believed in this dream. I couldn’t do this without you. I don’t want to mention names because I know I’ll forget someone and kick myself after posting this. I’ve met some incredible people through eRadio that I’m lucky enough to call my friends today. I am eternally grateful.

A pilot is nothing without a plane, so big thanks to our professional service providers, especially the team at TCS WIFI who keeps us connected.

Feedback is very important to me, so please feel free to get in touch

Stay tuned because the best is yet to come. (Below is a compilation of photos that all have a special meaning to me… things and people that played an integral part in this journey)



error: eRadio is protected !!