Bush Radio is Africa’s oldest community radio station project based in Cape Town, South Africa.

The idea of Bush Radio started in the 1980’s when community activists and alternative media producers came together to explore ways in which grassroots media could be used for social upliftment and as an alternative voice to the media available under apartheid.

Bush Radio was officially formed in 1992, after two years of community consultations of all aspects of the radio station. After repeatedly applying for a broadcast license to the apartheid government in 1992, Bush Radio then decided to broadcast illegally.

Watch a documentary on Bush Radio called Partial Eclipse by Richard Wicksteed in 1993. It features the illegal broadcast and the police raid on the station:

The response of the apartheid government was to confiscate the transmitter and other equipment, and to arrest and charge the Chairperson of the Board, Mervyn Swarts, and the Co-ordinator, Edric Gorfinkel to the full extent of the law.

Bush Radio members and volunteers organised placard demonstrations calling for the dropping of all charges, as well as the establishment of an “independent authority” to regulate broadcasting in South Africa. After a year of court hearings, the apartheid government dropped the case.

After the first democratic elections in 1994, the new government established the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) to regulate broadcasting in South Africa. Bush Radio was then issued with a one-year temporary license on the frequency 89.5FM, sharing the frequency with another radio station. The one-year temporary licenses were intended to be a temporary measure until the IBA was ready to issue four-year permanent licenses.

However, this process took far longer than anyone anticipated. Bush Radio was issued with a four-year permanent community radio license in July 2002 and another four-year licence in 2006. Since then, Bush Radio has been broadcasting for 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

Mission Statement:

“To ensure that communities who have been denied access to resources take part in producing ethical, creative and responsible radio that encourages them to communicate with each other, to take part in decisions that affect their lives, and to celebrate their own cultures. Through such radio, communities will affirm their own dignity and identity, and promote social responsibility and critical thinking”.

Noam Chomsky described his visit to Bush Radio as follows:

“It was one of the high points of a very exciting and instructive visit, and I was really pleased to have the opportunity to be with you for a few hours.

I would also like to tell you how impressed I was with what I saw and heard at Bush Radio. I have had quite a lot of contact with popular media in the United States, and often elsewhere, and have rarely come across achievements comparable to yours. There is no doubt in my mind that community radio is, in general, one of the most important ways to develop a basis for meaningful functioning democracy. In my own (fairly extensive) experience, I have found abundant evidence to support this conclusion. “

* Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, political activist, author (Manufacturing Consent etc), and lecturer. He is an Institute Professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Noam Chomsky (far right), with the late R.O. Dudley (left) and Zane Ibrahim (centre)

What do we do?

Bush Radio’s activities can be divided into four areas:

Broadcasting, Upliftment projects, Scholarship and training programmes, Human Potential Development

a) Broadcasting:

Bush Radio is broadcasting 24 hours per day seven days per week. Our programming is summed up by a quotation by Jim Ellinger, who visited the station from the USA.

  “I have visited scores of community media groups around the world (100+ cities in 40+ countries/territories since 9/11), and few compare with the great resource provided by Bush Radio to the Cape Town community. Programming in three local languages, Xhosa, Afrikaans and English, with half of the programmers women, the station reflects and promotes the best of the city. It also covers the myriad of social and political issues still facing post-apartheid South Africa”.

Programme details are available here. (CLICK)

b) Upliftment projects:

Bush Radio currently has 23 upliftment projects, ranging from the CREW programme to the Schools HIV and AIDS Education Project (SAEP).

Bush Radio stuck to its activist and social starting point and became more than just a radio station. All our on-air programs are linked with off-air activities. For example the children’s program grew into a continuous educational workshop for youngsters in the age range of 6 to 18 years, and includes the on-air component as well as a homework program, teaching English as a second language, and a lifeskills program. The HIV/AIDS programmes are linked up with educational workshops at schools where we visit two schools a week and raise awareness around HIV and AIDS.

We have a collaborative partnership with the South African Red Cross Society were both organisations go into the townships and raise general awareness. Our Hip Hop music program was the starting point of a formidable curriculum for Hip Hop musicians who want to improve their ability to write meaningful lyrics on HIV and AIDS and other social issues relevant to their age group. Bush Radio, furthermore, started a crèche on its premises to provide young mothers who work in the factories nearby with the possibility to continue employment.

c) Scholarships and training programmes:

Watch a clip on a training project Bush Radio is part of: The third activity of Bush Radio is the scholarships and training programme. Each year, Bush Radio gives scholarships to poor students that have the potential to succeed. Although the scholarships are mostly for journalism students, we have given bursaries to students in other fields.

We formalised the training component in 2000 with the establishment of the Broadcast Training Institute. The BTI offers quality training, with a practical component at an operating radio station. Bush Radio offers various media training, including radio broadcasting, video journalism, drama production, documentary and feature production and radio management

d) Human potential development:

The forth activity of Bush Radio involves the development of the human being from birth to old age. Bush Radio operates a day care centre for children from the ages of 3 months – 2 years. This day care is open not only for Bush Radio staff, but also for people working or living in the area surrounding Bush Radio.

The CREW programme for children aged 6 – 18 years old demystifies radio and media to them, so that they are critical media consumers.

The Alternative Kurriculum Mentoring Youth (Alkemy) programme is an alternative programme for youth (18 – 24) and educates them about political issues, starting from the foundation such as what is philosophy to reading and analysing “The Alchemist”.

These are but a few samples of our human potential development programmes.


Bush Radio operates with a small staff of 5 members, 10 trainees (fluctuates), interns from local and international universities and over 100 volunteers.

The staff and trainees are responsible for the implementation of the weekday programmes (6:00 – 16:00), while volunteers do all the programming as from 16:00. During the weekend, the picture is different as all the on-air presenters are volunteers that offers their time to do these programmes.

Structure of Bush Radio

The community forms the nucleus of the Bush Radio organisation and structure, and is on top and at the bottom of our structure, participating from both the top and bottom. The structure looks as follows:

The annual general meeting is once a year, and elects the Board of Directors. The Board’s role is to oversee the implementation of the policies, identify gaps and do development of the policies, fundraising and providing advice on legal, financial and other matters.

Bush Radio has a monthly Open Forum, which is open to anyone within the community that wants to hear what is happening at Bush Radio. Community members can also make suggestions and recommendations on improvements, critique any aspect of the station that they are unhappy about or even to complement staff on a job well done.

The Managing Director is the link between the staff and the Board, and, with the staff, is responsible for the daily operations of the station.

Volunteers form the backbone of Bush Radio, as they run most of the weekday, and all the weekend programmes.

Business model:

Bush Radio has diverse sources of income. Advertising forms about 50% of income, but Bush Radio does not accept advertising from alcohol, gambling companies, neither will Bush Radio accepts advertising that is racist, sexist or discriminatory in any way.

Sponsorship for programmes is another source of income, but no sponsorship of news is accepted.

Donors / grants provide income for some of the social upliftment projects such as CREW, our Media Kidocracy Konference (annual) and the School HIV and Aids Education Project.

Other sources of income includes: fundraising, selling of merchandise, training fees, internship fees and service provided, which includes Outside Broadcasting, admin and management fees for projects.

International recognition:

An undeniable boost has been the international recognition of the importance of the work done. Bush Radio carries some of this recognition with particular gratification: the Prince Claus Award for Urban Heroes that it received in 2000 through its Executive Director, Zane Ibrahim, and the second prize (silver medal) in the New York International Radio Festival for a CD of HIVHOP songs (Hip Hop on HIV/AIDS) that was produced in collaboration with Radio Netherlands, in 2001. Bush Radio also received two awards from the Department of Communication in 2005 for Best Provincial Achiever and Best Logistics department, and three awards for quality journalism from the SABC Community Media Awards.

If you would like to support of the work of this little station at the foot of Africa please send a contribution to:

Bank: Standard Bank

Account Name: Bush Radio

Account Number: 07 122 0194

Branch Name: Victoria Road

Branch Code: 02-4909-15


53 Responses to “About”

  1. Brenda Says:

    Great new website. Easy to use. Congratulations!

  2. Anathi Sikobi Says:

    Hi i am a 22 year old male who has just completed a sound engineering course and i am interested in working in radio some of the sofwares that we dealt with at the college namely: Cubase-mixdown and recording, Reason- jingles voice-overs, Protools- mixdown and recording etc. We also touched on various other aspects of sound and studio recording etc. I was wondering if there are any vacancies. My availability is flexible whether it is part time, full time, an internship or even freelancing.


    • bushradio Says:

      Dear Anathi,

      Bush Radio is a volunteer driven radio station so people give their free time but it is also a good place to get some experience. Please keep checking our blog fpr interning or volunteering opportunities.

      Good luck with your career and remember to send us demos of your work.

  3. lorton jasson Says:

    hi im a sound engineer who needs to do practicals please help me i can work for free

  4. Why? Because we have to #16days « Bushradio 89.5 FM Says:

    […] you would like to support this or any Bush Radio project; through advertising, sponsorship or donations; please contact Brenda Leonard on 021 448 5450 or […]

  5. Rodrigo Rodembusch Says:

    I need a contact from BUSH RADIO.
    It’s urgent. Can somebody help me?

  6. David Says:

    Some words from the late Edric Gorfinkel


  7. nadine Says:

    Good day. I urgently need an email address to the station manager or anybody in charge of your social responsibility/giving back to the community department. Thank u

  8. Michelle Avenant Says:

    This is an amazingly informative and well-structured “about” page – it was interesting reading about the history and origins of Bush radio as well as the role it plays today. Not many sites I’ve come across have had such accessible and complete information, so this is great!

  9. Bridget Says:

    Thumbs up to bushradio!

  10. Celebrating 16 years on air « Bushradio 89.5 FM Says:

    […] To check out some of the Bush Radio history CLICK HERE. […]

  11. Help keep us on air « Bushradio 89.5 FM Says:

    […] more than two decades Bush Radio has been at the forefront of broadcasting in South Africa, playing an integral part in […]

  12. Help keep Bush Radio on Air « Road Travel Says:

    […] more than two decades Bush Radio has been at the forefront of broadcasting in South Africa, playing an integral part in […]

  13. Given mudau Says:

    Im a 22 years old boy ive got a grade 11, im interesting to work as a radio presenter but i dont have any qualifications.

  14. MC_jayB Says:

    Hi I’m a member of a kzn based hip hop crew aiming to make a positive impact in today’s youth, do you only operate in captown?

  15. How to listen to us online « Bushradio 89.5 FM Says:

    […] Radio has been broadcasting (legally) since 1995 on 89.5 FM in the Cape Town area and since 2001 via audio streaming as well, this makes it possible […]

  16. Gerald Says:

    Hi there. I am an old school bush radio listener. Where would i get the songs that was played during MC Ready slot during the 90’s

    • bushradio Says:

      We have an archive of vinyl which at this stage is not open to anyone – but intend selling off some of them but no concrete plans are in place yet. Otherwise our best suggestion is searching online to buy tracks.

  17. honey Says:

    Please help with your website that I can be able to listen to bush radio with audio streaming when I’m in jo burg

  18. siyamthanda Says:

    Hey guys i am a new discovered fan of bush radio and i’ve always been interested in a radio-ish enviroment, i was wonderin if it would be possible to volunteer there, on a part time basis tho coz i’m at school, i am a first year student on a software development course btw, thanx

  19. From pirate to pioneer (Bush Radio’s illegal broadcast 20 years later) | Bushradio 89.5 FM Says:

    […] Read more about Bush Radio – CLICK HERE […]

  20. Deidre Says:

    I believe you are looking for a receptionist. Where can I send my CV please. I have experience.

  21. meshac iyambe Says:

    I really love this bush radio program , but I just wanted to ask if they can also play mixtape songs from the radio.

    • Don C Says:

      Hi Good Day ,I am a rookie hip hop artist ……im more a conscious hip hoper I would just like to enquire if the cypher sessions are still apart of bush radio’s programme if so when ? and the time slots ….
      I love what bush radio stands for …..REALNESS

  22. Luntu Mguba Says:

    It is very exciting to see how the station has grown over the years. I can remember all those events that happened in 1993 as if they happened yesterday. To see all those people Edric, Taslima, lumko Mtinde when they confiscated the transmitter, our first broadcast on the 10 April 1993 when Chris Hani was assassinated it brings back happy memories…….
    Thank you guys you have done a wonderful work in preserving the history of Bush Radio.
    I would love to have a copy of “Partial Eclipse” and be intouch with all of you again. Luntu(for those of you who have forgotten me I am the one who is doing the first broadcast on the day Comrade Chris is assassinated.
    hoping to hear from you

  23. Dirk Weber Says:

    Best wishes to all the Bush Radio people from Germany. From time to time I listen to your program. This is my favorite radio station in the RSA (I listen to it via the internet). Keep on rocking.

  24. Nosiyabulela Says:

    When some one wants to work there what is expecteded from the person??? But I worked 3 years and above in the community radio station I just need to explore ma dream .

  25. Willi H. Says:

    What a story! I am deeply touched – just watched Partial Eclipse. Now I’ll follow Bush Radio of today.(thanx www) I am very curious.

  26. Gino Thaysen Says:

    Hi .My name is Gino Thaysen. Gino Thaysen Productions based in Mitchell’s Plain is production team whom manages and directs shows for various schools and organisations in the community. We are involved in many community upliftment projects. The team is run by 19 year old Gino Thaysen, the production crew members are between 12 – 25 years old.
    Our aim for 2017 is to host a drama production with a great message, tons of laughter and a great adventure for the entire family. We would love to open this production to all Community Care Centres, Old Age Homes, Rehabilitation centres, Children’s homes and shelters at absolutely no cost!
    We are in desperate need of help in any way to make this dream a reality.We need help to get the word out there and to get people involved. WE WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE ANY HELP WE CAN GET FROM YOU because you guys are literally the best community upliftment radio station!

  27. Bush Radio gives rise to ordinary women this August | Bushradio 89.5 FM Says:

    […] to Bush Radio Managing Director, Brenda Leonard: “As we celebrate 22 years of being on-air legally, we are very excited to have this programme. Ladies Night highlights how Bush Radio takes a […]

  28. Renée Champion Says:

    Why can’t I find u on dstv radio

  29. Bush Radio gives rise to ordinary women this August – Bush Radio Says:

    […] to Bush Radio Managing Director, Brenda Leonard: “As we celebrate 22 years of being on-air legally, we are very excited to have this programme. Ladies Night highlights how Bush Radio takes a […]

  30. Media Freedom and Breaking the news | Bushradio 89.5 FM Says:

    […] country. Being Africa’s oldest community radio station project, which at one stage faced the full wrath of the apartheid government, we feel it is our duty and responsibility to promote accurate and fair […]

  31. Get experience in our newsroom | Bushradio 89.5 FM Says:

    […] Read more […]

  32. Podcast #204 - Resistance Radio 'The People's Airwaves' - Radio Survivor Says:

    […] Bush Radio (station in Cape Town that began via pre-recorded tapes on buses) […]

  33. Keep your voice alive | Bushradio 89.5 FM Says:

    […] Africa’s oldest community radio station project, it was started in the 1980s by community activists and alternative media producers to explore ways in which grassroots media could be used for social upliftment and as an alternative voice during the apartheid era.Today Bush Radio ensures it remains relevant, necessary and effects change through carefully curated media projects by working with partners to build dynamic programming. These projects include the Children’s Radio Education Workshop, where children aged between 6 and 18 years going live on-air, and the Media Kidocracy Konference where children aged 12 and up are trained to produce media content.As an incubator for new media talent, Bush Radio has trained many young people from the Cape Flats and beyond who have now moved on into the media industry and beyond, also helping to build young start-ups and artists.The community media sector is struggling in South Africa and even though Bush Radio is engaging on various levels, including with the government, to find a solution, we need daily costs such as rent, transmission, communication and stipends for the young people to get on-the-job training covered.Your contribution will go towards ensuring that young people have a place where they can get access to quality media training and experience and that Cape Town’s communities continue to actively contribute to discussions around the issues affecting them. […]

  34. Ensure we never have another “Black Wednesday” #mediafreedom | Bushradio 89.5 FM Says:

    […] this country. Being Africa’s oldest community radio station project, which at one stage faced the full wrath of the apartheid government, we feel it is our duty and responsibility to promote accurate and fair […]

  35. Nick Feinberg Says:

    Afternoon, can you please tell me who owned Bush Radio as well as it’s current station manager, thanks, Nick

  36. Peter Richardson Says:

    Dear  Sir
    My name is Peter Richardson. I am a Songwriter/ Producer.
    I have recently remastered a song that was recorded by ZAYN ADAM in 1991.
    It is called IN A DREAM and has recently been released on the Mountain Record Label . It is now out on Spotify and other streaming platforms.
    Many of Zayn’s fans are loving the song and I have attached  a copy of the file if you would like to hear it..
    Along with Zayn’s family I wish to help continue the Legacy of this Son of Cape Town as he performs this never befor heard song – IN A DREAM .
    If you like the song and feel it would suit your demographic please would you include it in your library .It has been embedded with the suitable ISRC code. If you want other details here are some. ISRC Code ZA-LKJ2100001
    RECORD LABEL – Mountain Records
    Samro no. 2230523
    I’m new to this side of things so any help or advice is appreciated.
    Here is a link on U Tube attached.
    I will send you a file in mp3 format if you like it.
    It would bring pleasure to many people out there.
    Best wishes
    Peter Richardson
    +044 07970813405

  37. Supporting community radio | Bushradio 89.5 FM Says:

    […] Lihle Mbikwana from Bulungula Community Radio in the Eastern Cape got to spend some time at the station to learn more about the operations of Bush Radio. […]

  38. Sign to support our 2023 License Renewal #BushRadio | Bushradio 89.5 FM Says:

    […] Bush Radio, Africa’s oldest community radio station project is in the process of renewing its broadcast and frequency spectrum license. […]

  39. #Sign the #Petition: #Support the #BushRadio 89.5FM 2023 License Renewal – Yours *TrulyJuly* Says:

    […] Bush Radio, Africa’s oldest community radio station project, is in the process of renewing its broadcast and frequency spectrum license. […]

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