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Choices On Air In Tamale

2006-12-07 22:16:38
This article has been read 6477 times.

Tamale Central
For most of the people who live in the south it may come as a surprise to be told that radio in Tamale is as vibrant as can be had anywhere else although the number is small when compared with what pertains in Kumasi and Accra.

There are four radio stations currently operating in the Tamale municipality and all of them operate on FM. Radio Savannah, Fiila FM, Diamond FM and Radio Justice are the radio stations that the people of Tamale have no choice than to listen to.

They are the indigenous stations that give the residents their daily dose of information through the radio.

Just as it is with radio stations operating in other parts of the country, radio stations in Tamale look at the performance of their morning shows to determine their strength. The healthier the show the stronger the station would be in the scheme of things.

The influence of radio stations operating in Accra on the programme content of radio stations in other parts of the country is very enormous and Tamale is no exception.

In Tamale some of the radio stations pick up the newspaper review segment on the morning shows of some of the radio stations in Accra after which they turn to the discussion of issues that are local.

The brunch in Tamale, as it is in other parts of the country is mostly music and information based. The difference perhaps is that in Tamale the presenters of mid-morning shows rely heavily on northern music, especially those performed in Dagbani.

Besides playing good local music, presenters of brunch time programmes try very hard to give information on social and other issues that would make the working time less tiresome and more exciting.

One other thing I found was that in Tamale radio stations rely heavily on Dagbani for broadcast. It was surprising for me to know that Hausa does not feature in Tamale at all and that the language that most radio presenters and stations use is Dagbani.

“Tamale is a Dagomba community and so Dagbani is the language that is mostly used to broadcast. Contrary to the perception held by people from other parts of the country, most of the people who live in Tamale do not speak Hausa hence it would be difficult to use such a language to broadcast,” was how a radio presenter put it.

It is however not only Dagbani music that is played on the radio stations in Tamale in much the same way that it is not only Dagbani that is used to communicate.

This is because radio stations are aware that there are other people who reside in Tamale who are not necessarily Dagombas and so may not understand the language.

The use of other languages such as English and Akan is also keen in the broadcast equation of Tamale. All kinds of music are played on the radio stations in Tamale.

Those that feature prominently though include hiplife, highlife and gospel music. “We play gospel music, but I believe it is not as one will find it being played in Accra or Kumasi for example,” said a radio presenter.

Good music interspersed with tidbits and talk segments are the style that many a radio station in Tamale adopts for their drive programmes.

Religious programmes have become a part of radio since private radio hit the Ghanaian. Across the length and breadth of the country radio stations have time for the clergy to preach, pray and invite people to join them worship.

Some stations receive about 90 per cent of their revenue from this kind of activity. A sitting duck, if you ask me.

Tamale cannot be exempt from this line of activity as many of the radio stations have slots for preachers to do their own thing.

Except that in Tamale both Christian and Islamic preachers share the preaching slots. Being a Moslem dominated community, this arrangement makes a lot of sense to me.

Just as I learnt in Sunyani, radio stations operating in Tamale get very few advert from the indigenous businesses.

Though some of the stations fall on the numerous NGOs that operate in the city, most often than not they fall on advertising agencies in Accra for business.

One station executive told me that this makes it very difficult to make enough revenue to pay their huge bills.

Apart from picking the news on radio stations like Peace FM, Joy FM and Radio Ghana, radio stations in Tamale dwell heavily on GNA and for news out of the city.

One presenter said he hoped they could do more investigative reporting as some of the stations in Accra do but they lack the requisite resources that would enable them do that.

One thing that got to me very hard was the fact that almost all the radio stations in Tamale go to sleep at 10pm. The stations close shop to cool their machines and other equipment only to come back at dawn to continue transmission.

Radio Savannah is the only one that remains on air twenty-four hours, I am told. Also unlike stations that operate down south, radio stations in Tamale do not spend extra money to keep their stations on air when lights go off.

Once it is the turn of an area where a station is situated to experience the load shedding that station has to close for the day, no time and money is spent to fuel the station and transmitters.

Another problem that a presenter made known to me was the fact that it was difficult to handle talk programmes in Tamale because of the volatile nature of the area.

One is therefore very careful in dealing with talk issues and also allowing callers because both could elicit big trouble for the presenter and his or her station.

One thing I realized was that Radio Savannah has tried to niche the various communities and to provide services that would suit their local needs.

Consequently some towns outside of Tamale have special frequencies created for them and programmes are broadcast to meet their listening needs. These communities include Yendi, Damongo and Salaga.

However, some of the radio presenters I spoke with are of the view that these special frequencies tend to interfere with their own and it makes it difficult to reach listeners with programmes they love to listen to.

I must say that I was impressed with the reception of television at Tamale as compared to what pertained at some other parts of the country, especially in the case of GTV.

Both the national broadcaster and Metro TV show very clear pictures for the viewing of residents of the municipality. Unfortunately TV3 and TV Africa are yet to reach the residents of Tamale with their programmes.

It appears to me that the electronic media landscape in Tamale has been growing at a gradual pace and yet very soon it would boom to a level that would marvel many.

I picked up the “filler” that one community broadcast station would soon begin its transmission and following from there others may follow.

This, I am convinced, will give a lot more choices to the people of Tamale.

source: Graphic

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