Massiv Metro, a local digital radio station has figured out how to reach 700 000 taxi commuters six days a week in South Africa’s urban centres.

Through spreading digital availability, for free, they have a front row seat on South Africa’s roads and in the minds of their listeners.


media update’s Adam Wakefield spoke to Massiv Metro founder and managing director Tony Mallam about the station’s success and how it has been able to crack a market few have given a second look, and excelled in it.

How was Massiv Metro founded and who founded it?

In 2016, I was running the Times Media radio stations Vuma and RISE fm, and working with the DJ Sbu Breakfast. Sbu – Sbusiso Leope – and I got chatting, and talked about the feasibility of setting up our own online radio station that overcame the challenge of typical niched streaming stations.

At the same time, Tiff Willemse, founder of Massiv Media, approached me with a view to adding radio to his existing urban commuter platforms. So, the timing was absolutely perfect. We set up Massiv Metro in December 2016, went live online in May 2017, and our taxi installations commenced in August 2017.

Massiv Metro exclusively targets commuters in taxis, taxi ranks, and broadcasts directly into taxis. How does this work and why was the taxi industry and taxi commuters targeted as your audience?

With 10 years in the urban commuter space, our partner Massiv Media totally understands the space, have a strong presence, and experience. What people are amazed to find out is how affluent and pervasive this market is – 15 million people a day travel in urban taxis through taxi ranks. No other target market is at the same place, same time, every day of the week. By default, these commuters are generally employed, fall into the mid-to-upper LSM categories, and are perfect targets for advertisers.

How does it work? We are a digital streaming radio station. Others before us, like Gareth Cliff or Tbo Touch, have successfully demonstrated that Internet radio can work, but streaming radio has always been considered niche, mainly because of the cost of data. We are smashing that paradigm by providing streaming radio, for free, to the mass commuter market through our taxi and taxi rank network. Devices installed in taxis stream the radio, through the speakers, to the captive audience. Free Wi-Fi in the ranks allows commuters standing in the queues to not only surf, but also stream Massiv Metro at the same time.

For every 1000 taxis, we reach 840 000 listeners per six day week. Add that to the daily potential of the ranks, with over a million commuters per day in the queues, and are talking mainstream radio numbers.

If I’m a marketer, what about the taxi commuter audience should I know or will get my attention?

Massiv Media has commissioned research over the past few years for all major campaigns, using Freshly Ground Insights. Out of that, thousands of commuters have been interviewed and profiled, and we have a very good picture of the average urban commuter – excluding long haul taxi trips and the rural market.

LSM 6 to 9 is the dominant demographic, and we share these demographics with our advertisers. Many people think that taxi commuters are poor – this is not true. Many of them own their own vehicles, but prefer to travel by taxi in the week, saving their cars for the weekend, saving petrol, and also taxis are effectively door to door. They are an incredible – but much maligned – network!

The perception is taxi commuters are:

  • Not good targets for advertisers – wrong;
  • All drivers are bad – wrong. Many of them now are monitored, especially those financed; and
  • The taxi industry is a dangerous and unruly business – wrong. It is very carefully controlled, highly lucrative, but also very powerful.

Here’s a statement I hear often from insiders: “What other transport provider has been around for so long without a single subsidy from government?”

Massiv Metro describes itself as a “positive vibes” station. Why did the station adopt this position and also, with the station seeing itself as NuAfrican, what is NuAfrican?

I haven’t really explained the roles of the stakeholders. Massiv Media provides the knowledge and experience of the urban commuter network, and shares its knowledge and resources. Leadership 2020 is the key role player when it comes to the sound of the station, led by DJ Sbu, and I manage the business, of radio.

Leadership 2020 are responsible for talent sourcing and management, music, news, sport, and content. Sbu and his team are incredible entrepreneurs and are hugely optimistic about this country, and Africa. Prominent guests are a regular feature, showcasing success and providing inspiration and aspiration to listeners. Positivity is first and foremost, it’s a station of hope and power, and it’s very differently programmed to anything else out there


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