Radio awards stir controversy

HARARE - When Celebrity Check, a local online entertainment magazine, launched the Zimbabwe Radio Awards (Zira) early this year, there was palpable excitement among local radio personalities.

The initial optimism and excitement, however, quickly gave way to sceptism after Zira released a shockingly long list of 132 nominees in 33 categories despite the fact that Zimbabwe has very few radio stations.

Organisers have complicated matters by keeping to themselves the criteria that informed the long nomination list that is baffling critics and neutrals alike.

One prominent nominated radio personality, who declined to be identified for fear of being victimised, told the Daily News on Sunday that Zira runs the risk of losing credibility even before their brand has taken root.

“Zimbabwe doesn’t have many radio stations so how do they justify such a long list? The awards look like they are designed to reward every radio DJ and presenter and sadly not on the basis of merit.

“At this rate, all radio personalities in the country will be award winners in a couple of years.

“Such a scenario clearly makes the awards less glamorous. If organisers don’t put their act together, the awards will soon become a mere popularity contest,” he said.

But in an interview with the Daily News on Sunday, Zira publicist Agrippa Palazi dismissed the general sentiments by some stakeholders on the awards’ nomination process.

“We had a team that listened to all radio stations which came up with a list of the categories and the nominees.

“We have been considering radio presenters/DJs/news anchors since August 2015.

“We came up with 33 categories so as to cover the diverse range of characters in the radio industry,” he said.

Palazi could not be drawn into revealing the people who were part of the team that worked on the nominations on behalf organisers since last year.

Though the use of an SMS voting platform is increasingly being used by many awards to determine winners, a DJ, who declined to be identified, believes the adjudication process provides more worthy and prestigious winners.

“The listenership of some radios (stations) has no capacity to text endlessly, leaving them at a disadvantage.

“Radios have different demographics and having them in the same category does not work,” said the concerned DJ.

But Palazi doesn’t agree. He believes the SMS voting system is the most ideal method.

“Awards like Kora have been using such a method. Above all, SMS voting provides access to people throughout the country.

“We wanted to give a chance to almost to everyone. We considered the fact that in rural areas SMS voting is more accessible and cheaper than voting through the Internet,” he said.

The Zira spokesperson insisted that the awards, which were originally set to take place in July, will definitely take place on October 29.

“It is now in order. It is not about sponsorship as people might have thought; we do have big name sponsors,” Palazi said.

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