From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
5FM (2013 logo).gif
Broadcast areaSouth Africa Broadcast Nationwide (via, repeaters)
Slogan"The Power of 5"
Frequencyvarious nationwide, 98.0 FM in Johannesburg
First air dateOctober 13, 1975 (1975-10-13)
FormatCHR (Contemporary hit radio)

5FM is a South African FM radio station that follows a Top 40 music format and is owned by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), South Africa's public broadcaster.

Origin and history[edit]

Formerly known as "Radio 5", the station developed from a commercial station, LM Radio, which had been operating from Lourenço Marques (now Maputo) in neighbouring Mozambique.[1] Radio 5 first went on the air on October 13, 1975[2] after Mozambique gained its independence. The station began broadcasting in the medium wave band from transmitters at Welgedacht, Maraisburg, Pietersburg, Durban, Bloemfontein, Brackenfell, Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown. The name indicated it was the SABC's fifth national radio channel at that time, after Radio Suid-Afrika, Radio South Africa, Springbok Radio and Radio Bantu.

Re-branded "5FM" in 1992, it has as its current logo a red "5" and superscripted "FM" within a circle and the words "The Power of" inscribed along the upper periphery of the circle. Music is the heart of 5FM's format, supported by news, sports and traffic catering to a wide range of tastes for a youthful market.

The History of Radio 5/5FM From 1975 to 1987[edit]

Radio 5 launched on 13 October 1975 from the SABC Broadcast House in Commissioner Street and was later moved into the basement of the Broadcast Centre, Auckland Park in Johannesburg. It had interesting foreign origins!

LM Radio, targeting South Africa's youth from Lourenço Marques in Mozambique had for years been a thorn in the side of the Calvinistic South African Government and its National Broadcaster, the SABC. When LM Radio was shut down by the Frelimo Government the South African Government instructed the SABC to take over the staff and the service.

This was not welcomed by the SABC. They promptly renamed the station Radio 5 and required it to be bilingual with an equal weighting of English and Afrikaans. Music was strictly monitored, controlled and censored. As a commercial radio station it was doomed.

The day after LM's closure, now ex-LM jock Nick Megans reported for duty and (as competently as possible under draconian conditions) presented the first live show on Radio 5 starting at 05:00 on the 13th October 1975.

Competition was fierce. Channel 702 broadcasting from Bophuthatswana and Capital 604 in the Transkei were Radio 5's competition.  But this was not enough to change the attitude of the Calvinistic SABC. (Minister of Broadcasting, Albert Hertzog, referred to Radio 5 and the others as stations that played: “Die Duiwel se Musiek” (The Devil’s Music)

Channel 702 was renamed Radio 702 and, on the advice of an American consultant, Bob Hennaberry, the music format changed to straight Top 40 with the introduction of new voices. The star to emerge was the highly talented John Berks (also ex LM) who they head-hunted from Radio 5. Within a year 702 claimed nearly a million listeners from the area then called the PWV while the nationwide Radio 5 could muster less than 150,000.

Rhodesian (now Zimbabwe) TV and Radio man Malcolm Russell was employed as the new Radio 5 Breakfast Show Host and used the time to plan a way forward against the powerful competition Radio 5 faced. Coincidentally there was a changing of the guard at the SABC. Riaan Eksteen was appointed Director General in 1984. When he learnt that the youth of the nation were listening to 'foreign stations' he is reported to have demanded that Radio 5 be 'fixed or shut'.

In 1985 Russell presented a radical and far-reaching plan and was appointed to Programme Director to implement it. He was given a six month window with his only constraint being 'Don't breach the Broadcast Act.'

He immediately began  sweeping changes, determined to programme for the listener, not the Management. This included

  • English as the primary broadcast language
  • Best jocks were dismissed and re-engaged on a year's freelance contract with shows named for and designed by them.
  • The music playlist was determined with direct input from the jocks
  • Commercial scheduling was overhauled to be less intrusive
  • Specialised evening shows were launched to combat television (best remembered for Chris Prior - the Rock Professor')
  • Championed FM Stereo (eventually taken nationwide)
  • Broadcasts extended into non-stop (24/7)
  • Re-branded as 5FM with a one-word slogan 'Outrageous!'
  • Introduced the first Talk Show on a Music Station (Chuckle and Chat)

The live phone-in Chuckle and Chat Show, presented by David Blood and Tony Sanderson became the hottest property on the air with listenership peaking at around 1 million nightly.

Russell made the Presenter's responsible for their own success or failure with the promise that, when their year's contract expired they would be free to renegotiate based on the audience the shows delivered.  (The legend is that he told the jocks "if your listenership is up at the end of the year I expect to hear from you. If they're down, expect to hear from me!") At the end of the first 12 months with an unheard of growth in loyal listeners, no-one lost their jobs!

However Russell remained on salary and sought to negotiate the same performance-based contract for himself. Senior management rejected the proposal and Russell resigned to begin his own company, the Broadcast Development Group. (He was later to be contracted to assist the now ailing Radio 702 in it's very successful repositioning and transition to 702 Talk Radio)

5fm in the 90s and Early 2000s[edit]

Breakfast Shows[edit]

The Mark Gillman" show was hosted by Mark Gillman and supported by Kevin Fine and Ruben Goldberg, Catherine Strydom (Grenfell) and stuntman "DangerBoy".[3] Gillman was best known for his loud personality, and ability to wake people up with his high energy. His slogan "I Love it in the Mornings" was an effective mantra for people looking to start their days off on a positive note.

After a brief stint as the host of the drive-time show (with DJ Fresh), Gareth Cliff replaced Gillman as 5fm's Breakfast Show host. With Cliff as the host, the show was supported by Leigh-Ann Mol (news), Mbali Moloi (traffic), Sias DuPlessis (Sport), Damon Kalvari (Assistant to the Producer), and Thabo Modisane (Executive Producer). The show ended in 2014 when Cliff began an online radio platform, to which all of his team, save DuPlessis, followed him.[4]

Following Cliff's departure in 2014, DJ Fresh took over the morning show, having hosted the drive-time show since 2003. However, Fresh returned to the drive-time slot when the Breakfast Show was taken over by Roger Goode in 2016.

On 31 March 2017, Fresh left 5fm to return to sister station, Metro FM.

Presenters from the 90s and Early 2000s[edit]

  • Mark Gillman
  • Alex Jay
  • Ian F (Also Hosted the 5fm Top 40 with Sasha Martinengo)
  • Sasha Martinengo (Also hosted the 5fm Top 40 with Ian F)
  • Darren Scott (Drive time with John Walland, Ray White and Leigh-Ann Mol (nee Van der Stadt)
  • Mark Pilgrim with Ray White (Weekend Breakfast Show)
  • Cleone Cassidy
  • Ursula Stapelfeldt (Host of the World Chart Show)
  • Sami Sabiti (Host of the World Chart Show)
  • Koula (Host of the World Chart Show)
  • Nicole Fox
  • Zuraida Jardine
  • Derek the Bandit
  • Barney Simon[3]

Broadcast languages[edit]

Broadcast time[edit]


Listenership figures[edit]

Estimated Listenership[6]
7 Day Ave. Mon-Fri
Feb 2013 2 025 000 881 000
Dec 2012 2 146 000 940 000
Oct 2012 2 176 000 939 000
Aug 2012 2 189 000 909 000
Jun 2012 2 246 000 928 000


  1. ^ "LM Radio History". Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  2. ^ "Development of Broadcasting in SA". SABC. Archived from the original on 2013-12-25. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "DJ's 'patrol' hits Durban - IOL Entertainment".
  4. ^ https://www.tvsa.co.za/actors/viewactor.aspx?actorid=1262
  5. ^ a b The Annual Guide to Radio in South Africa (AdVantage 2012). Media 24. 2012.
  6. ^ SAARF RAMS (Presentations)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 26°11′09″S 28°00′34″E / 26.1859°S 28.0094°E / -26.1859; 28.0094