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Lay-offs Loom at Radio Africa as Restructuring Begins

Radio Africa plans to allocate 60% of its staff to digital content, with print to remain with a smaller team representing 30%

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A fresh round of lay-offs is looming at Radio Africa Group as the media house plans a major shift in a bid to turn the ship around. Radio Africa Group operates media brands including The Star, Mpasho, Kíss TV and radio stations such as Kíss, Classic and Radio Jambo.

The Group’s Head of Content Paul Ilado issued a memo seen by Business Today, in which staff members were informed of a shift to an ‘audience-first’ approach. Importantly, Radio Africa plans to allocate 60% of its staff to digital content, with print to remain with a smaller team representing 30%.

As it is unlikely all those working in print and other platforms may be absorbed into the digital team, layoffs are likely. In his statement, Ilado admitted that the digital-first approach they adopted in 2017 had failed to bring the desired results, revealing disappointing revenues and slowed advertising.

The financial performance of the pay-wall recently introduced on its Star website remains questionable, and The Star continues to trail Nation and Standard in print sales, even as overall newspaper circulation figures continue to steadily decline.

“Five years ago we switched to a digital-first strategy. This strategy was for us
to feed our radio stations and websites first. We have tried but unfortunately it
has not given us the desired results. We need to do something radical that
will see us generate revenue to pay our bills now that advertising is
diminishing daily,” Ilado noted.

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According to Radio Africa, the audience-first shift will see an increased focus on quality over quantity when it comes to content, and will require individuals with digital story-telling skills.

“The new approach starts today and it is about a robust understanding of
where our readers, listeners are so we can make money…To effectively answer these questions we flipped the newsroom so we can follow our audience, where they are, and do stories that they want to read, when they want to read and how they want to read or listen to them. This means effective work, as it drives greater return on investments or more
‘bang for the buck’” Ilado asserted.

The print version of the star will maintain its 32 pages despite only being allocated 30% of the team. Francis Mureithi, who was appointed Digital Editor in October 2021, will lead the digital team alongside Nancy Agutu.

“To do that, we are shifting 60 percent of our workforce to serve our digital
platforms. Francis Mureithi will lead this and Nancy Agutu, our digital lead
will now be coordinating the newsroom,” Ilado wrote.

“We will maintain 32 pages in our newspaper and the paper will be put
together by 30 percent of our team led Joseh Olweny, Francis Openda and
Jillo Kadida. Instead it will have well-written political exclusives, in-depth
analysis and human-interest stories with diverse voices,” he continued.

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