Shock jock Gareth Cliff looks set to start new show, including WeChat streaming

Gareth Cliff WeChat

Gareth Cliff WeChat

South African shock jock Gareth Cliff is set to make a return to broadcasting, but he won’t be on radio, or TV for that matter. Instead, it appears that the controversial DJ, who recently left terrestrial radio station 5FM after 10 years, will instead make his return on WeChat.

While there have recently been whispers that Cliff could be hosting a show on the instant messaging platform, his new site CliffCentral.com appears to confirm it.

The site lets visitors know that they will be able to “Join Gareth Cliff – live from 1 May” and promises an “unscripted. uncensored. unradio” experience.

As well as a sign-up bar, the site includes links to WeChat’s iOS and Android apps (interestingly, the icons appear to have been removed following the publishing of this article). WeChat, which is owned by Chinese internet giant Tencent, entered the South African market in early 2013 and has been on a massive marketing push since then, with ads across media channels and sponsorship of a number of events, including the Loeries — South Africa’s premier advertising awards showcase.

The service itself has over 800-million registered users, 355-million of whom use it on a monthly basis.

While the majority of those users are in China, Tencent has been upping its efforts to attract users from outside of its native market. As part of that, it recruited footballing megastar Lionel Messi to be the face of a massive global campaign, which helped it push the number of registered users outside of China past the 100-million mark.

For his part, there’s evidence that Cliff’s been looking to enter the digital space for some time now. While hosting the 2013 Bookmarks — an awards showcase for South Africa’s digital advertising and publishing space — Cliff solicited the audience for suggestions on how to get out of radio and into the digital sphere. He did however say that he would not do conventional internet radio, alluding to the listenership reporting crisis which hit that space in 2013.

At this stage, it’s not clear exactly what format Cliff’s endeavors on WeChat will take, although a radio show would hardly be beyond WeChat’s capabilities — in China, users can watch content from multiple TV channels through the app. It’s also unclear whether the show will be streamed exclusively online. Memeburn is however in the process of asking both Cliff and WeChat for comment and will update the story accordingly.

Cliff had earlier confirmed that various members of his team would be joining him on the new platform.

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