BLANTYRE, Malawi — Private broadcaster Capital Radio Malawi moved to new studios in December.
Transferring from Umoyo House in Blantyre to new facilities at Pamodzi Park, nearly 2 kilometers/1.25 miles away, the station managed to make the move without causing any interruption in its programming.
Capital Radio airs mainly English content across the country and relies on studio-to-transmitter links to send the signal to its main transmitting site in Mpingwe. During the relocation, however (which took nearly 24 hours), it had to change strategy and feed one day’s worth of content into a computer and connect it directly to the transmitter in Mpingwe.
“This was like killing the STL, the link between the studio and transmission site,” explained radio technician Christopher Nkosi. “We just switched to the computer and no interruption occurred, even for a second. So all programs were being played direct from the PC to the transmitter.”
The only difference, he says, was that there were no live programs and instead there was more music, adverts and recorded programs.
“Our listeners didn’t notice anything because the recorded programs were made as if they were live. It’s just that there were no phone-ins and there was no response from our SMS line.”
Program Manager Keshia Osman-Meyer says the relocation from the building they occupied for 10 years was necessitated by a need to improve the studio’s performance.
“We now have a new studio with optimal soundproofing,” she said. “It’s small but it allows us to produce a really good sound. It’s designed so that production can see into the studio to liaise with presenters.”
She also says the station, which previously primarily focused on music rather than talk shows has changed its format.
“We have to respond to what our audience wants, and so now we offer more talk than music. We are competing with social media now, and if we don’t join in the discussion, adding the digital aspect, and interacting with our listeners, we can fall behind,” she says.
Osman-Meyer adds that plans are also underway to refurbish some of the station’s studio gear. The broadcaster is looking to its usual supplier, South Africa-based Broadcast Solutions Electronics to help out with that task. According to Kondwani Kalambule, the technical department head, the station is taking delivery of a Sonifex RB-PD2 profanity delay, AKG P220 condenser studio mics, AKG K52 professional headphones, a Biquad Broadcast ALO 2 telephone hybrid and a Solidyne MX 2400 codec-mixer.
In addition, he says the station plans to beef up its current network of seven transmitters with two more 1-kW FM transmitters from Sielco.