Songs about Radio on Capital Radio 604

On the 26th December 1979 Capital Radio began its official broadcasts from Port St Johns on the South African Wild Coast. The station made use of the apartheid government’s separate homeland policy to broadcast independent music playlists and news from the supposedly independent homeland of Transkei. This mixtape remembers Capital Radio with a selection of songs about radio which either charted or were playlisted on Capital Radio.

Despite Buggles claiming that video had killed the radio star, Capital revitalised the South African airwaves, not only with their much wider range of musical choice but also with their liberal news broadcasts. In both instances listeners got to hear things they wouldn’t hear on the apartheid government’s South African Broadcasting Corporation stations. Indeed, the Selector’s reference to ‘the same old show on the radio’, seemed to apply to the tired and conservative sounds of SABC’s Radio 5, rather than being applicable to Capital, who played reggae, ska, funk and other musical styles not heard on Radio 5 in 1980.

A few South African bands feature on this mixtape. Clout appear with a cover of Daryl Hall and John Oates’ “Portable Radio”, and Bite’s “Loud Radio” was the only featured song that did not chart on the Capital Top 40 Countdown, although it was playlisted in mid-1981. Nighthawk was a studio group put together to record a jingle for Capital Radio, with the words “The soundtrack of your life is playing on 604”. They turned the jingle into a fully-fledged song, changing the chorus from ‘on 604’ to ‘never ask for more’. And the Radio Rats achieved the only Shifty Records Top 40 chart song on Capital, with “Turn On The Radio”.

The full list of songs and month of entry onto the Capital charts is as follows:

  1. Video Killed The Radio Star – Buggles (Jan 1980)
  2. Pilot Of The Airwaves – Charlie Dore (Jan 1980)
  3. On My Radio – The Selecter (Jan 1980)
  4. On The Radio – Donna Summer (Feb 1980)
  5. Portable Radio – Clout (Mar 1980)
  6. Loud Radio – Bite (playlisted May 1981)
  7. Oh Yeah – Roxy Music (Sep 1980)
  8. Love On The Airwaves – Night (Jan 1981)
  9. Wired For Sound – Cliff Richard (Sep 1981)
  10. Radio Gaga – Queen (Feb 1984)
  11. The Soundtrack Of Your Life – Nighthawk (May 1985)
  12. We Built This City – Starship (Nov 1985)
  13. Radio Africa – Latin Quarter (Mar 1986)
  14. Make Me Lose Control – Eric Carmen (July 1988)
  15. Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison (Dec 1988)
  16. Radio Romance – Tiffany (Jan 1989)
  17. Turn On The Radio – Radio Rats (Apr 1991)
  18. Radio Song – R.E.M. (Dec 1991)
  19. Heartbreak Radio – Roy Orbison (Nov 1992)
  20. Hello (Turn Your Radio On) – Shakespears Sister (Nov 1992)

Capital 604 – Darren Scott’s Top 20


Darren Scott is the first guest DJ on Mixedtapes ZA, offering us his choice of South African music; in this case his Top 20 South African songs of the 1980s, including songs from 1979 which were around at the beginning of 1980.

This is the first of our occasional series of Guest DJ mixed tapes compiled by former Capital Radio DJ s.

These are ranked from No 20 through to number 1 on the mixed tape. Enjoy!

If you want to see the play listing prior to listening to the countdown you can view the order of the songs in this week’s poll below.

Show Playlist + Poll

Capital 604 – 1980

When Capital Radio began in December 1979 it introduced playlisting which was strikingly different to that of the SABC’s Radio 5 music station. This affected all music chosen for radio play bit its impact was especially felt by South African musicians with cultural-political messages such as Juluka who were not played on SABC (in the early 1980s in particular).

In fact Juluka’s “Africa” was banned on SABC because of its political message and because it mixed English and Zulu, but it charted on Capital Radio, being the first South African song to reach number 1 on their weekly Top 40 countdown. Solo artists like Steve Kekana and groups like Harari, Kariba, Spirits Rejoice and Juluka, who performed South African/Western cross over styles often with culturally significant lyrics charted on Capital Radio in 1980, but mostly not on the mainstream SABC popular music channels (Spirits Rejoice being an exception). By playing these musicians, Capital Radio significantly impacted on the lives of their audience, instilling a sense of pride in a diversity of South African music, bringing together people who the apartheid government was trying to keep apart and by introducing their listeners to a broader spectrum of music, not narrowly chosen as appropriate for their race or ethnic group by the state broadcaster.

Of the top performing songs in 1980, “Africa” – Juluka was the only one to reach number 1, “Ain’t gonna stop” – Joy and Steve Kekana’s “Raising my family” peaked at number 2, while “Portable radio” – Clout reached number 3, as did “Shine on” by Spirits Rejoice which nevertheless went on to become the most successful of the South African songs that charted in 1980. “Oowatanite” – Clout peaked at number 4 and “Paradise Road” by Joy at number 5. “Party” by Harari reached number 8, where it spent three weeks before dropping down the charts.

This mixtape plays from number 12 through to the number 1 South African song of the year as per performance on the Capital Radio weekly countdowns. If you want to see the play listing prior to listening to the countdown you can view the order of the songs in this week’s poll below.

Show Playlist + Poll