Radio West Coast is a community driven initiative that was conceptualized and founded in the year 1997 by Mr Francois Julius in the small suburb of St. Helena Bay, in the West Coast of South Africa. Three years after the end of Apartheid in 1994, the thought of previously disadvantaged communities having access and control over an electronic media tool such as community radio, was considered to be radical and even far-fetched. For this reason, it was extremely difficult to muster support for the project so early in the new democratic dispensation, hece it took sheer determination to gain any kind of traction in the application process. However, under mentorship of the late Mr Zaine Ibrahim (advocate for the formation of community radio in SA and founder of Bush Radio in Cape Town, SA), the project began to take shape.
The three year migration period from the Independent Broadcasting Authority of South Africa (IBA) to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) caused some delays in the licensing process but in the period 2001/2, Julius was invited by ICASA to submit updated information on programming, community support and on-going training processes. This was followed by the submission of verbal presentations by applicants to the ICASA Licensing Board under leadership of the late Constitutional Chief Justice, Pius Langa.
The Broadcast License (CLASS/RE/COM/R87/OCT/14) and Spectrum License (Class/amd/Com/RF87/July/14) was first issued in 2003, whilst the Production Studios and On-Air Studios were installed in 2004 after Julius also made application for broadcasting equipment to the Department of Communications under then minister Dr Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri. The station was initially registered as a Voluntary Association with registration number 518-858 NPO on 9 October 2001 whereafter it transitioned into a Section 21 company with reg no. 1995/004071/08 and finally, the latest changes in ICASA regulations saw the station transition into a non-profit company (NPC) registered with CIPC under reg no 2015/001131/08. Current board members are Prof R.W.E. van der Wal, Mr M. Stowe (sc), Mr F. Julius (ceo), Mr G. Magogotya and Ms C. Moodley and this composition of board members is representative of all races and religions as the station is registered with ICASA as a “Geographic Community Radio Station”.
The Memorandum of Incorporation for the station was developed in-line with all ICASA regulations and was adopted in its final format at the elective AGM of 20 June 2016, where Mr Amos Hlabioa and Ms Suzan Mashinini observed proceedings on the night, and Mr Franklin Huizies, former National Community Radio Forum Chairperson presided over the meeting. In 2016, prior to the elective AGM, the station’s Memorandum of Incorporation was scrutinized by the ministry of the communications department and was found to be in order. Today, after nearly 12 years of broadcasting the station, under leadership of a dynamic team of professionals has evolved into a stable community broadcaster.