Why this hip-hop head created an online radio station for local rap music

14 September 2018 - 07:00 By Thango Ntwasa
Liza Xobololo owner of Koppolla online radio.
Liza Xobololo owner of Koppolla online radio.
Image: Supplied.

When Liza Xobololo noticed that the South African entertainment industry had no specific platform for local rap music, he decided to gather fellow hip-hop heads to start Koppolla, an online radio station.

Radio listeners often have to jump from station to station to find their preferred musical content, but Xobololo wanted his station to allow hip-hop fans to enjoy their favourite genre 24/7.

Koppolla, which is Xhosa gang-slang for staying connected in a struggle, was launched a month ago and is based in Rabie Ridge, Johannesburg.

“I’m just a guy who earns R8,000 a month that’s trying to put everything together. I’m operating from a township and the challenges are many,” Xobololo said.

He said the station faced constant challenges of power cuts, cable theft and connection failures – and he had many hurdles to overcome as a black business owner.

“Sometimes, in my emails, I cut out my surname so that a person can actually read my proposal before rejecting it because of the name,” said Xobololo. “As a black person based in the township in this industry I’m trying to get into, it is something painful that I’ve realised when trying to work with someone of a different colour.”

The business was funded from his own pocket, and Xobololo is still distressed about the day he had to tell his parents he could not help them out with money.

“We call it ‘black tax’. I told them that I am cutting them [my parents] out because I have this dream that I am running after. It’s something that hits me every day, every morning when I want to give up on this.”

Xobololo said his mother was extremely supportive of his journey. He has also received support from celebrities whose music is played on Koppolla – including iFani, Zakwe and Driemanskap.

He still struggles, however, to find sponsors to help keep the business alive at a venue with stable electricity and fibre internet connections.

The station is available online at www.koppollac.co.za. Shows run from 6am to 3pm, non-stop music from 3pm to 6pm, and the last show airs from 6pm to 9pm.