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Hotter, better radio
Source and images: Hot 102.Fm
You would have to go a long way to beat the passion HOT 102.7FM’s founder and Managing Director, Lloyd Madurai, has for radio. His passion has taken him on a journey which culminated in his induction into the SA Radio Hall of Fame some years ago – the youngest person to receive this honour.
Lloyd’s longstanding relationship with radio extends to his childhood, growing up in Durban and discovering the airwaves for the very first time. That lit a spark in Lloyd and he set out to ensure that this was where his future lay, to the extent that his first job in the radio industry was at age 13.
“At the end of the school term, all my friends were going to the movies at The Wheel shopping mall,” he says. “I saw a radio station there and knocked on the door, offering to clean the studio, records, whatever, which is what I did in my free time, as well as learning as much as I could. After about a year, one of their DJs left and I got offered a Saturday morning slot.”
Just a year later, Lloyd had his first on-air gig at Radio Port Natal (now East Coast Radio).
“At 15 I was doing commercial radio in Durban, the youngest ever on radio in South Africa,” he says.
SPREADING HIS WINGS
By 19 Madurai was fronting the breakfast show on commercial station P4 Durban and remained in KZN until he was 21. In 1999 he was approached by Primedia Broadcasting for a position at the then Highveld Stereo.
“I had specific knowledge of a music scheduling system I was using in Durban and this was the upside for Primedia, along with my dual skill as an on-air presenter,” says Lloyd. “I was flown to Joburg and was the music compiler in my first weeks. A month later, I was the music manager.”
He also took on the role of weekend presenter on the Sunday morning breakfast show and Friday night’s 10pm – 1am party show.
Lloyd’s time with Primedia put him firmly in the commercial radio shop window and he was eventually approached by Kagiso Media and appointed Programme Manager at Jacaranda 94.2, playing an instrumental role in directing the new station strategy. His role evolved and he later became the Head of Talent, Content and Programming.
After five years at Kagiso Media, Lloyd left the commercial radio scene to pursue personal projects, including being involved in a consortium that put together a bid to revive the old Capital Radio – a project that ultimately didn’t get off the ground and cost Lloyd and the consortium a lot of money.
Left to lick his wounds, Lloyd almost found himself back at square one, but in true entrepreneurial fashion, used his time out of the commercial radio industry to explore a particular passion project of his that had been kicking round the back of his mind for some time – an ‘Old Skool’ music station playing only the hits from the 1970s, 80s, 90s and early-2000s. After finding the backing, securing a licence and convincing a host of radio legends, such as the late Jeremy Mansfield, Darren Scott and Kevin Savage to buy into his vision, community station HOT 91.9FM was launched in November 2014. The station flourished from day one, shaking up the South African community radio scene.
BIRTH OF HOT 102.7FM
Roughly five years later, Madurai saw an opportunity to return to the commercial radio space, when Classic FM was looking for financial investment and a group of interested parties came together around that commercial licence. That ultimately resulted in the birth of HOT 102.7FM, which launched as a new commercial radio station in the competitive Gauteng market on 1 July 2021, during the Covid-19 pandemic. Defying the odds, HOT 102.7FM has gone on to carve out a niche for itself by focusing on the basics of playing popular ‘Old Skool’ music.
THE HOT Radio Academy
The station has also built a host of mutually-beneficial media partnerships with the likes of cricket’s Joburg Super Kings (global partner) and the DP World Lions, rugby’s the Emirates Lions, and the Ferrari Owners’ Club of South Africa. HOT 102.7FM also runs the HOT Radio Academy, which is open to the public, free of charge, and is the perfect foundation for anyone who has a passion for radio and a desire to learn the basics, with the goal to prepare graduates for a possible career in radio. “It’s not just out of a sense of duty to play a role in improving our industry that we host the academy,” says Lloyd. “We believe it’s incredibly important to hold out a helping hand to the next generation of radio talent in this country. That’s the basis on which the HOT Radio Academy was founded and it will continue to offer invaluable training and a foot-hold to hundreds of people who otherwise would not have had any opportunity to enter the competitive world of radio.”
This community-first theme runs through to Hot Cares, which has, as its goal, to make a meaningful difference to the lives that exist around the radio station. “We believe strongly in the power of using radio to do good in the community and this is the essence of what Hot Cares stands for,” says Lloyd.
Over the past two years, Hot Cares has raised R15-million across its annual Teddython fundraiser, which takes the form of an extended all-day outside broadcast, with a full staff complement, including on-air presenters, manning phones, completing fun stunts for charity, and taking financial donations and pledges from members of the public. The 2023 Teddython is scheduled for later this year.
It’s also been an award-winning few years for HOT 102.7FM, including walking away with the coveted ‘My Station – Most Votes’ award at the 2022 SA Radio Awards – an event at which it received 13 nominations. The icing on the cake came when the station received global recognition, honoured as a finalist in four categories at the 2023 New York Festivals Radio Awards in the United States.
Lloyd says, “To be recognised on the world stage and at the ‘Oscars of the radio industry’ was just great affirmation of the path the station is on, and being honoured by global heavyweights in the world of radio says so much about what we’ve built here at HOT 102.7FM and the quality of the radio product we’ve taken to market.” From Durban to New York, it really has been some radio journey for Lloyd Madurai.