Ballz launch

Former Jacaranda FM deejay and SuperSport presenter Darren Scott has launched an online radio station called Ballz and he is hoping it will shake up the broadcasting landscape in SA.

Ballz follows in the path of other online radio ventures like Cape Town’s 2OceansVibe and is apparently already garnering a loyal listenership since launching.


Scott fell from grace last September after directing racial slurs at a colleague during a Jacaranda team building event. This followed a disagreement over an unpaid debt. He was forced to resign from both the radio station and his position at SuperSport in the wake of the incident.

For now, Ballz broadcasts between 2pm and 6pm on weekdays from a studio in Woodmead, Johannesburg. The service is available via the station’s website and can be streamed to desktops, laptops, smartphones and some feature phones.

Scott is joined on air by sports analyst John Walland, former Miss SA Nicole Flint and voice artist Simon Hill. The team also includes former 5FM deejay Sasha Martinengo, who hosts a motoring-focused show called Gearz between midday and 2pm.

According to Scott, the service is already enjoying an outstanding amount of daily listeners.
“The team is really excited to bring this form of radio to SA,” says Scott.

After Scott had the idea of starting the online station, he began looking for investors. He very quickly found interested parties, one of whom isVox Telecomco-CEODoug Reed.

“I thought it’s about time another industry gets disrupted,” says Reed. “There’s a very controlled supply [in the broadcasting industry]. It reminds me of Hollywood, where there was studio power and there’s now star power. I thought we could do the same thing to radio.”

Reed says Scott has “single-handedly” built the business and has had to learn about both the technology that goes into running an online radio station and the importance of understanding social media as a means of attracting listeners.

Though Reed approached the Vox board to back the project, he says it wasn’t keen and he then began talking to people and sourcing private investors, of which he is one. “One or two people came with a list of demands, and I said, ‘This is not for you,’” says Reed. “We’re leaving it to the radio people to run the radio show.”

One of the benefits of online radio is that it isn’t subjected to the demands of the national regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of SA. Stations don’t require radio frequency spectrum and aren’t governed by content rules.

Online broadcasting also has the benefit of a potentially global audience in that anyone with an Internet connection can tune in.

Scott says the visual aspect refers to the video feed of the studio and the fact that there will be added interactive content for listeners on the website in addition to using technology like Skype to conduct video interviews. He says that Ballz isn’t seeking to replace traditional radio but rather is a new medium that offers “new possibilities”. —Craig Wilson, TechCentral

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