The Wits Radio Academy is a new centre of training, research and public engagement in the field of radio. Based at the University of the Witwatersrand, the academy aims to make a special contribution to the development of radio in South Africa and beyond, with a particular focus on community radio.
The academy is based in the Kagiso Media Training Centre, which it shares with the university's campus station, Voice of Wits 90.5. On the edge of campus, and in the heart of Braamfontein, the centre is within easy reach of the major radio and other media groups that have made Johannesburg the country's - possibly the continent's - media capital.
The academy and station are institutionally separate, but work closely together: the station speaks to the campus and the surrounding areas, while the academy works with, through and alongside the station to offer training and other services to the broader industry.
Teaching focuses on thoughtful engagement with ideas and issues, while also emphasising the practical skills that practitioners need. Students on the Wits journalism programme produce news bulletins for the campus station, and some later move into internships with major radio stations - a first step into a career. Short-term courses are also designed to include practical work through the station and with other partner stations. Internships in other fields are available.
The academy aims to serve all sectors of the radio industry: community, commercial and public. Although it grew out of the journalism programme, it offers courses in all fields, from marketing to management, presentation to programming.
Based at Wits, the academy is well placed to bring the intellectual resources of one of the country's pre-eminent universities to bear on the challenges and opportunities facing radio in the 21st Century. In concrete terms, this means researching areas like the factors affecting the provision of news on local radio, or the ways in which radio stations are - and can - use the Internet. The academy finds innovative ways of making this research available to the industry and broader public.
The academy has an advisory panel, consisting of eminent people from a range of sectors of the industry.
Funding support comes from the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) and Kagiso Media, while a range of other partners have supported particular projects..
1) The Advanced Radio Certificate
At the centre of the academy's offering is the Advanced Radio Certificate. The courses that make up this programme are taught in two-week full-time blocks. Seven courses are available. One is compulsory, and students can choose any four others. The courses are:
• Radio studies (compulsory)
• Radio presentation
• Local radio journalism
• Radio programming and production
• Radio sales and marketing
• Radio management
• Radio goes online
The certificate is pitched at NQF6 level. The courses can also be taken individually, and a course certificate is awarded on successful completion. Other courses and programmes will be added in time.
Register online for the Wits Advanced Radio Certificate or to complete certificate courses in Radio.
2) Postgraduate programmes
From 2012, the academy is offering honours and masters specialisations in radio. For more detail, click here.
The academy is building a research focus, focusing on the challenges and opportunities facing radio in the 21st Century. In concrete terms, this means researching areas like the factors affecting the provision of news on local radio, or the ways in which radio stations are - and can - use the Internet. The project also has a particular concern with community radio. In 2010, student researchers examined the ways in which community stations deal with news. The results were presented at a conference in Auckland, New Zealand, in January 2011. More details under the Media Observatory.
4) Joburg Radio Days
The academy hosts an annual international conference. Details under the menu item at the top of this page, or click here.
5) Community radio support
In 2011, the academy is developing a radio station health check and Station Advice, Mentoring and Support Service (Sams). This project is still in its early stages, and details willbe posted here as they become available.
6) Programming hothouse
Also in 2011, the academy is beginning to work with various campus groups to tap into their subject expertise - in law, science and many other fields - to develop new programming concepts. Details will be made available as they become available.
Find us on the 9th floor of University Corner, on the corner of Jan Smuts and Jorissen Streets in Braamfontein.