NAIROBI, Kenya — In March 2018 NRG Radio went on air in the metropolitan area of Nairobi. At the same time its audio and visual radio feed became available through the internet. The new station was launched with the claim “we’re gonna change the way you listen to music.”
Targeting youths from the ages of 16 and 26, NRG Radio is a daughter company of the MoSound Group, which has nearly 15 years of experience in the business of customized live events, marketing and event management.
A DIFFERENT WAY
According to NRG Radio’s Commercial Director and MoSound’s Creative Director Denis Ndavi, the founders of MoSound were thinking of launching a radio station long before they entered their original business. Unfortunately, at that time, it was nearly impossible to get an FM license in Kenya.
Due to recent developments however, MoSound Group applied for and received a license and the frequencies required to launch a new station. “When this became an option, we said let’s do radio, but we have to do it differently,” Ndavi explained. “We said, ‘Let’s disrupt the industry’ and that’s how NRG Radio was born.”
After studying what was already on the market the company came to the conclusion that a station, even a new one, following an established, traditional path, won’t succeed. “To survive we had to plan for the future and adopt the future today,” Ndavi added. “Trends are becoming increasingly digital. Technology is embracing convergence in audio, video and social media platforms.”
Ndavi said the idea was to design and launch the first radio station in Kenya to offer digital convergence for music and everyday entertainment. Through this, NRG Radio aims to set the trend and attract tech-savvy listeners.
In Kenya more than 90 percent of the population listens to radio at a national level and radio has been the strongest medium in the country for the last three decades. In addition, almost every smartphone and standard mobile phone in the nation features an active FM tuner, which leads many people to listen to FM through their mobiles. He added that internet adoption in Kenya has grown faster than in most African countries, so the station believes it’s in a promising position to deploy a digital convergence strategy.
NRG Radio features three IP-based studios with visual integration, capable of streaming live video from the studio to any CDN [content distribution network], social media and other platforms.
FOUR MONTHS TO AIR
The Nairobi-based systems integrator BYCE Broadcast set up the entire air chain, which includes three IP-based studios, a production room, a CTA [central technical area] and the transmission system.
Studio One is equipped with a 12-fader Lawo crystal mixing console with integrated router and the Lawo VisTool Virtual Radio Studio software. It also features AVRA radio automation software with HD video playout capability (720p) and six-channel video mixing software with digital graphics generation to add the station’s logo, news crawls, weather info and customized legends.
After completing Studio One, NRG Radio went on air through a microwave point-to-point link to its Limuru broadcasting site, where an eight-bay omnidirectional RVR ACP-1 antenna provides a broadcast range of about 100 kilometers/60 miles.
The second studio is equipped with a 12-fader Lawo sapphire console with Autogain and Automix features that enable the console to take control of the entire studio. The third studio is a “virtual studio,” which is configured around Lawo’s R3LAY virtual console. The portability of the R3LAY virtual mixing console allows the station to use it for traditional in-studio shows as well as in OB vans and remote events.
In less than four months, NRG Radio was running as a visual-radio FM channel with an online audio and video stream. In their first day of operation, the station says it scored 1 million hits on their website. Today, NRG Radio broadcasts from transmitting sites in Nairobi, Eldoret, Nakuru, Kisumu and Mombasa.
Social media is also key within NRG Radio’s communication cycle. “First we attract potential listeners within our digital experience through the radio,” explains Ndavi. “The nrg.radio website is populated with discussions and conversations happening on social media platforms.”
Since NRG Radio targets youth, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter, together with some chat groups on WhatsApp, are the most popular platforms for the station. When a listener delivers content to NRG Radio’s accounts, the broadcaster gives this content extra life by injecting it through its social media platforms. It also employs dedicated social media officers to keep the conversation trendy.
THE COOLEST AGE
“Sixteen is the coolest age ever, you are at the peak of your coolness. After that, you’ll be trying to be as cool as you were then,” Ndavi said. “If we can capture this feeling of freedom, coolness, happiness, that feeling of ‘nothing can stop me now’ with our programming, then we will succeed in the youth market.”
When MoSound Group decided to launch NRG Radio, it aimed to differentiate its radio business from its entertainment business. “We decided to establish a radio station with a new concept, instead of taking on a different business because radio is magical,” explained Ndavi. “It is one of the only mediums that gives you the license to create exponentially.”
In his opinion, everyone who has ever been a student of sound is fully aware of the different emotions a sound engineer can deliver to listeners by just changing the sound they are creating. “Once you discover this, you can make them feel happy or angry, or you can make them feel love, all just by tweaking the parameters of sound,” he concluded. “Those who control sound can control the universe.”