Standard Group General Manager, Radio products, Tom Japanni with Vybez radio fans during spice and vybez radio 2 years anniversary celebrations at the Standard Group offices. [David Gichuru,Standard]

Standard Group radio stations Vybez Radio and Spice FM are now two years old. Launched shortly before the pandemic, the two radio stations have grown to become forces to reckon with in the media industry.

“Vybez and Spice are like fraternal twins and in my experience doing business, if you open a business and it goes past three years, that business is viable. For us, having clocked two years, we are not waiting for three years, three years should find us successful already,” said Thomas Japanni, the General Manager, Radio, at Standard Group.

“Vybez radio is a station that was set to give a platform to the youth in Kenya and the continent and that’s why our slogan is 'Vybez from Nairobi to the world'. We play reggae; new school reggae and we have programs that carry a very young voice of people. We give youths a platform to speak about issues touching on young people without talking to them or talking at them.”

Japanni said Vybez allows young people to take advantage and interrogate issues that touch on policy and politics.

 “Conceptualizing a station, conceptualizing such a platform, executing it until it gains ownership with people you bring on board, until it is accepted by listeners and society, for me this is huge,” he said.

Speaking during the anniversary celebration, Japanni said: “Our audiences have grown since our inception. We have a good audience especially online since we are the first audio-visual radio station around the region.”

“You can consume Vybez content online, visually you can see people in studio, and you can get the same output on radio, in your car or your phone. We have also been able to bring big ticket names like Chris Martin, we have plugged into events especially in Nairobi. We have gotten traction with our audience with only five frequencies. We have seen our numbers compete with established stations with transmitters all over the country,” he said. 

Joe Munene, the MD broadcast at Standard Media Group, said the two stations were launched at the same time in a tough period. “When we look back and assess our performance, this is a huge achievement over the last two years,” he said.

“The company has put a huge investment, looking at our studios, it is a testament to our belief that radio has a strong future and we want to be in the radio space in a big way. We also have plans for a fourth radio to be launched in its proper way,” he said

“We have come a long way, sustained the two-year journey but now the true potential will be manifested.” 

Joe challenged their employees to work as a team and endeavor to make a difference.

Nicholas Siwatom, Chief Talent Officer at Standard Group, who was also at the ceremony encouraged the two radios to continuously work as a team. “This is a great team of talents, and this is why you have come this far, it is important to work and grow as a team,” he said.

Brian Evusa, programs controller at Vybez radio said that they have done a lot of work trying to position Spice as the best old school soul station: “I believe we have made very good progress, Covid happened just after we made a momentum, people will be seeing us out there in the days to come,” Brian who is also in charge of music both in Vybez and Spice made his remarks.

Japanni said that according to Geo Poll, Spice is easily one of leading stations broadcasting in English.

“Spice is one of the biggest English stations in Kenya. Online we have done much better than other English stations. We are happy that from all radio surveys, you will always find Spice in there. We have novel programs like the Situation Room that has gotten a lot of traction in the country and it being the first ever of its kind in the country,” he said.

With elections nearly here, Japanni says they intend to have electoral coverage just like any other station, but, “we will focus on the voice of the youth without looking at parties, we do not care about your political alignment as long as you are a young person,” he said.

“We are going to give the youth a platform to air their grievances, to speak truth to power, to demand what they need in leadership so that they have a voice and influence the outcome of the elections.”

Japanni said their viewers and listeners should expect very good and compelling content.