The new station will broadcast a mix of music and company messages to around 12 000 employees within a 5km radius of the mine, using its own employees as presenters. Any Kumba employee or service provider can apply to volunteer as presenters and they will receive relevant training before hitting the airwaves.

George Benjamin, Kumba Iron Ore's manager of corporate affairs and social performance, says that the idea for the radio station was born from the concern that operators working in the pit are not exposed to safety messages.

"Safety is our absolute top priority in our operations. By installing radios in the trucks and at various locations in the mine, we will be able to maintain awareness around various aspects of safety throughout the day," adds Benjamin.

The station, which has already applied for an ICASA license, plans to broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week, although some programming will be recorded and repeated to ensure all shifts get to hear important messages.

Programming will focus on:
  • SHEPS (safety, health, environment and protection services)
  • community development
  • sustainability
  • company performance
  • skills development
  • education, and
  • entertainment.
The station says that the primary language will be English, although there are plans to introduce other languages, like Setswana and Afrikaans, going forward. Office workers will be able to live-stream the radio from their workstations.

"Covid-19 has shown us that we need breakthrough thinking because livelihoods have to continue and, in doing so, businesses have to remain sustainable and viable, even after Covid-19," says Thandiwe Mapi, specialist community liaison and project manager.

"Radio is a great tool to build employee engagement, especially at this time. It's more important than ever for corporates to connect with their people, and with radio, we don't have to take people away from work and we do not have to have mass meetings, but we can still engage all employees at once, repetitively," adds Mapi. 

The new station has been named C'ore FM, 'Lentswe la Tshipi' Voice of Ore, and will aim to encourage listeners to phone in and send messages as part of its efforts to create a two-way communication channel.

The next steps include theory and technical training for the Sishen leadership team and other key people that will need to present on behalf of departments.

"The training will focus on getting everyone ready to address the employees for the programme lineup we have put in place. The plan is to have a programme that engages employees on all aspects of our business, supporting our vision of an inclusive workplace," says Tracey Vollmer, specialist communication and project coordinator.

C’ore FM has also turned out to be a strong enterprise development story. Kumba used only local businesses and suppliers to set up the station and provide the necessary equipment and training, providing a timely boost for the local economy. The company also collaborated with the local community radio station, Kurara FM, in its planning and rollout.

The station says that it strives to transform the way communication and engagement occur in the mining space. Its nature of being both an active and a passive medium will enable messages to be repeated to a point where employees have internalized and are able to share and engage with them.

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