Written and directed by Craig James Johnstone, ‘MUSIC POWER: The Story of Capital Radio 604‘ is a feature length documentary that charts the story of a brave group of revolutionaries who start a multi-racial radio station to combat the lies of the Apartheid regime in South Africa. The story of dismantling Apartheid in South Africa is a tale of courage, perseverance and grit. Amongst the plethora of forces that took on the regime, the guys and girls behind Capital Radio 604 are rarely known. Johnstone’s work puts some much needed light on this group who took control of the airwaves to defy the regime. Facing a far reaching state apparatus that would take no prisoners, this group of dreamers secretly worked behind the scenes, often resorting to outlandish plans in order to keep their station running. A ragtag group of misfits who came together for a common goal, Capital Radio 604 was on air for almost 20 years, battling funding scarcity, assassinations and other obstacles in order to keep the struggle alive.
For a two hour documentary, the film whizzes by in a flash. Filled with so many historical nuggets and interesting pieces of information, director Craig James Johnstone methodically builds the story of the group step by step. Focusing on interviews with the core group and interspersing this with historical photographs and records, Johnstone charts the humble beginnings of the group as it turns into a significant force combating the Apartheid regime. As the narrative momentum picks up, Johnstone takes care to dive into the inner workings of the group and how competing creative voices worked together to take on a myriad of challenges.
From a technical aspect, the editing is on point whilst the sound mixing also elevates the narrative storytelling of the production. Johnstone does well to lay out everything chronologically as it helps the audience understand the whole arc better. Johnstone even tracked down some of the actual audience of the station who fervently tuned in during the 80s and 90s. This helps provide a unique perspective that helps showcase the actual impact of the work done by 604. In 1996, Capital Radio 604 sadly shut down due to a variety of unavoidable factors. Nevertheless, Craig James Johnstone’s documentary not only immortalises the struggles of this infamous group, it also helps to provide an unbiased look into the workings of a group that flourished and survived for 17 years despite towering odds.