You are here:

Music-based radio and youth education in South Africa

, University of Michigan, United States

University of Michigan . Awarded


This dissertation argues that music-based radio acts as a primary reference point around which South African youth position themselves in the larger constellation of social relations. Radio stations in South Africa have some of the highest listenership figures in the world and young South Africans regularly engage in discussions about music-based radio content with their peers. Song lyrics, presenter commentary, call-in discussions, and other radio content create spaces for reflection, dialogue, and social interaction among youth. Discussions about music-based radio oftentimes become pathways to conversations about youthful living, whereby radio content operates as a springboard for the dissemination of knowledge.

This dissertation specifically focuses on youth relationships with music-based radio stations, presenters, and content, and evaluates the intricacies that are often embedded in these social dynamics. Drawing on my field notes, focus groups, radio production workshops, and interviews, I take a listener-centric approach, paying attention to the personal listening realities of young South Africans while evaluating the wider social space of youth consumption. Chapter 1 introduces the fieldsite and discusses the methodological orientation and theoretical focus areas. Chapter 2 lays out the historical context of radio broadcasting in South Africa. Chapter 3 delves into the contemporary landscape of radio broadcasting in South Africa, and argues that the structural organization of the national broadcaster assists in reinforcing apartheid-era categories of race, language, culture, class, and nationhood. Chapter 4 follows the listening patterns of one individual and explores the ways in which radio becomes integrated into daily life. Chapter 5 interrogates the concept of educational radio, and considers what young people deem successful in educational content. Chapter 6 follows an edutainment project using hip-hop to create awareness around HIV/AIDS. Chapter 7 takes readers to the idea center and broadcast studio of a youth-driven production project. This chapter details the production processes of one group of young people who created their own collectively negotiated version of a radio show. Chapter 8 offers concluding statements, reiterating the primary findings of my ethnographic research.


Rahfaldt, M.J. Music-based radio and youth education in South Africa. Ph.D. thesis, University of Michigan. Retrieved October 18, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

For copies of dissertations and theses: (800) 521-0600/(734) 761-4700 or