Classic FM celebrity co-presenters Maina Kageni and Daniel Ndambuki aka King’ang’i are among Radio Africa Group employees in the spotlight as the company puts together a restructuring that will culminate in a mass lay-off mid next month.
Radio Africa Group CEO Patrick Quarcoo has called a meeting for the radio division tomorrow Friday 22nd November where he is expected to brief the staff on the bolts and nuts of the layoff.
Tension has been growing in the entire Radio Africa Group (RAG) since Monday when the company issued a one-month notice of the intended retrenchment.
Earning huge perks
Radio is the Group’s most successful division, bringing in the bulk of its revenues. The company runs 7 radio stations targeting different market segments.
They include Kiss FM, Classic FM, Radio Jambo, East FM, Gukena FM, Smooth FM and Homeboyz Radio, which recently joined the media group.
Besides, RAG runs The Star newspaper, Kiss TV and Bamba Sports TV. There’s talk of closing down Bamba Sports, which beams sports content.
According to a report by Geopoll released in early September, Radio Africa commands 48% of radio listenership based on its radio brands combined. Classic FM, which most popular in Nairobi, is the leader in revenue generations, followed by Radio Jambo and then Kiss FM.
Kiss FM lost its lustre with the exit of Caroline Mutoko, who transitioned to management, but beats Classic FM when it comes to the nationwide audience.
Radio Africa radio stations have been losing their market share to other rivals, with Radio Jambo battling out with Mediamax’s Milele FM, Radio Citizen, Standard’s Radio Maisha, KBC Radio Taifa and a number of other Kiswahili stations.
Classic FM and Kiss FM squares it out with a number of English stations such as Hot96, Capital FM, and KBC and, at times, cannibalize each other.
It is not clear how the retrenchment will be executed but going by industry trends and RAG’s culture it’s likely to target a few high-earning employees and lots of low-cadre staff in radio, TV, newspaper and management.
The company says changing trends in media, driven by the invasion of digital media, has reduced earnings. While the government has cut down on advertising, the corporate world is reeling under a slow economy.
To survive, it has been forced to cut costs by reducing staff. RAG was banking on payments from the government but ended up being devoured by its tax arrears, insiders say.
Maina, King’ang’i high pay
Maina Kageni and Ndambuki, known on the morning breakfast show as Mwalimu King’ang’i, are among the big names in radio, whose fate is being closely watched.
The others are Kiss FM morning show hosts Kamene Goro and Andrew Kibe, who joined the group recently after the exit of Adelle Onyango and Shaffie Weru who landed a new managerial post at the Homeboyz Radio.
Maina and King’ang’i are credited with making the classic Fm morning show popular.
Maina Kageni is among the highest-paid radio presenters in the country.
In 2016, the presenter was earning up to Ksh1.8 million per month. Ndambuki, a comedian who founded the Churchill Show, was earning up to Ksh1.3 million per month at the time. The numbers have certainly grown.
Who listens to Classic FM?
Classic FM’s morning show hosted by Kageni and King’ang’i has been criticised for focusing too much on sexual/adult content. Critics say most of their discussions are populist and simplistic feminine-oriented discourse that adds little value to listeners.
But bottomline watchers at RAG hold that if the petty talk brings in listeners and advertising, so be it.
There have been accusations of stage-managing respondents. The show has been losing its allure among the elite listeners looking for informative talks and debate on trending discussions and social issues of the day.
The show has been flagged many times by Kenya Film and Classification Board CEO Ezekiel Mutua for its adult content during the watershed hours and is a common feature at the Media Council of Kenya complaints department.
Their Kiswahili colleagues on Radio Jambo – Joseph ‘Gidi’ Ogidi and Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee – face a similar moral dilemma.
Classic FM has for years been unable to expand its popularity beyond Nairobi, which would give it not only a bigger geographical reach but also enable it access a wide scope of advertising.
With increased competition for quality listeners, analysts say Classic FM is ripe for a refresh. The monotony of the morning show discussions of relationships has become obvious, with listeners outside Nairobi shunning the station. Kiss is actually popular than classic on a national scale.
Who will go?
Will the management be radical enough to push out some of its highly paid presenters? Being the rainmakers, Maina Kageni and King’ang’i may not be touched. Their financial burden could be made up for by squeezing out about 10 people!
The restructuring at Radio Africa comes barely a month after Mediamax threw out nearly the entire TV team at K24 and Kameme TV as it moved to reduce its payroll.
Next Read >> Small Players Taking Away Audience From Citizen TV