Breeze 89.3 FM, launched in 2002, is a community-based commercial radio station located in Chipata, in the Eastern Province of Zambia. Its target audience includes peasant farmers and villagers, small-scale traders, workers and businesspeople. This radio is very popular in the Eastern regions of Zambia and has a lot of experience in developing radio programs on issues such as HIV and AIDS with support from development agencies. Locally the radio reaches over 800.000 listeners but also many more through live web streaming.
As provincial capital, Chipata is home to many government offices and departments. It is also the provincial launch-pad of NGOs and international aid organisations. Breeze FM studio is in the centre of town, next to a taxi-rank, down the road from the main fresh produce market, close to the main banks, and surrounded by restaurants, shops and stalls.
The station commenced test transmissions on 5th October, 2002 and was granted a full broadcasting license on 31st January, 2003. The station was officially commissioned on 31st January, 2004 on the day of its first anniversary. The station operates for 24 hours each day. For 18 hours from 06.00 hours to midnight, Breeze FM broadcasts local programmes. The night shift, from 24.00 to 06.00 hours, is dedicated to BBC live programmes. Breeze FM is a partner station of the BBC.
Breeze FM over the first nine years of operation had an average radius of 120 kilometres. In February 2012 Breeze FM completed a geographical expansion programme which extended its signal to the entire Eastern Province, parts of Central and Northern Provinces as well as significant areas in Malawi and Mozambique. Today Breeze FM has a radius of up to 300 kilometres.
Breeze FM broadcasts in Chinyanja (or Chewa) and English languages. Two thirds of programming is in the Chinyanja language and one third in English. The Chewa language is also widely spoken in Malawi and the Tete Province of Mozambique.
In terms of programming, Breeze FM is a public interest station – combining education, information, news and entertainment. The station’s focus is on the interplay of issues concerning the community; its history and the social, cultural and economic activities and endeavours of the people.
Breeze has a broad development mission – to stimulate prosperity in the coverage area by creating access to useful, relevant and up-to-date information that will give growth at personal, family and community levels.
Apart from providing essential information, the station’s programmes incorporate the ‘how to do’ approach providing guidance, offering tips and hints to listeners on different subjects.
Programme development is a continuous process and the station uses focus group discussions to get listeners’ feedback as well as their needs in news, information and music.
Breeze has four main goals/roles in the community it serves. These are:
1. providing a voice to our community to communicate their perspectives in the public domain;
2. providing a space for the community to engage in public dialogue and debate on the issues that affect them;
3. providing a channel to communicate information on development issues to our community, and to communicate perspectives from the community to those in authority.
4. providing radio as a viable advertising medium to businesses, which previously advertised in distant national institutions.
MISA – Zambia Electronic Media Award
Breeze FM has won the Media Institute of Southern Africa – Zambia Chapter top broadcasting prizes on three different occasions.
In its second year of operation the station won the Best Electronic Media Award for the year 2004. The award was in recognition for its contribution to the development of the electronic media in Zambia.
In 2005 the station’s Producer/Presenter, Greyson Mwale, who is known as Gogo (grand father) Breeze won the Most Outstanding Broadcaster Award.
In 2009 the station was granted two awards by the Department of Culture for its contribution to the promotion of tradition and culture in the province. This was in recognition of the station’s work in recording the history of the tribes of Eastern Province and its coverage of traditional ceremonies in the region.
In 2010 the station was awarded the MISA Zambia Mildred Mpundu prize for outstanding coverage of HIV/AIDS issues.
The Founder/Director, Mr. Michael M Daka was recently awarded the 2012 Lucy Sichone/Bright Mwape Award by the Press Freedom Committee of The Post newspaper. The award is presented once every two years to deserving individuals for their accomplishment of outstanding service to the cause of media freedom and freedom of expression and other human rights.
There are several objectives that we aim to attain in future. The main objectives are to:
- Dedicate the station to the audience and identify strongly with the community
- Broaden listener choice in news, information and programmes
- Innovate and stimulate fresh interest in local languages, traditions and cultures
- Encourage further opportunity in the fields of drama and folklore; and
- Broaden listeners’ music appreciation.
The project Empowering Local Radios with ICTs conducted a research together with local radio stations to identify main issues of local public concern in the Breeze FM’s coverage area:
- Congestion in hospitals
- Farming inputs (e.g.: fertilizers)
- Feeder roads leading to depots for the storage of the produce
- Crop marketing (e.g.: prices for produce, timely and reliable information on markets)
- Water and sanitation
- Electricity supply
- Local governance
“Even if Breeze FM is not the first radio in the region, in its manner of interacting with its listeners, opening up the station, the studios, bringing close contact between the listeners and the presenters and producers, Breeze FM has changed completely the way the people of Eastern province view radio”, explains the station’s Managing Director Michael Daka. Listen below the audio presentation of Breeze FM and find out what makes it so different from other radios in the region: