Monday, April 18, 2011

So close, yet far...

Not much action took place this past week; instead it was all about the preparation for our 1st mock radio show, which will take place next Friday. We have planned to hold a workshop with all the team members on Thursday, in which we will take the preparations a step further. I just hope that all the team members show up.

So far, I have really enjoyed working with the Umthathi project members. They all have such dedication to their jobs; they are extremely knowledgeable and show a genuine interest in the creation and sustainability of the Masakhane show. It is truly inspiring to listen to Xoliswa and her dreams for the Umthathi project and her dedication to the success of the show. She simply wishes to pass on the knowledge and message that Umthathi gives to the community. So as to help create a better community and way of life for all those who live within it. She believes that healthy living and eating, sustainability and business opportunities are key to such a success; especially within her community, where diseases and sickness is rife. It is for these reasons that I also aim for the show to be the success the community needs. I would feel that I had accomplished something other than just a University project assignment.

My will for the project to succeed has allowed me to go the extra mile in my interactions with the show team members. But I do get disappointed when the same enthusiasm is not shared by Radio Grahamstown, the very team members who form the heart of the show, as the anchor and producer. I say this because, for two of the workshops which we have held so far, it was only either Mary or Thenjiwe who showed up, never the two of them together. Furthermore, on the day of the presentations of our Term 2 plan (involving all the show team members), no one from Radio G turned up, not even the Station manager Phumlani Wayi! Even though I have gone out of my way to arranged transport and have continuously sent reminders. It is simply disappointing, that Grahamstown’s own community radio station cannot see the very importance and great benefit that the Masakhane radio show will have for the community to which they broadcast. And not only that, they neglect to recognise the great opportunity the show has for the station as a whole, by bringing quality content, training and a much needed structured show to the stations broadcasting.

Ultimately I seek reassurance in the fact that I am gaining a great learning experience, as I am sure that this will not be the first time in my career that I will face such difficulties. It is now just up to Litha and I to work around the annoying snags we come across.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Masakhane - “Let’s build”

Xoliswa and Mary Preparing for the first show
It is hard for me to believe that the 1st Term of my final year is rapidly coming to an end. It truly feels like the time has simply flown by, but looking back I realise just how far Litha and I have come in the progress we have made with our participatory production project. So far we have successfully achieved what we set out to do in our term one plan, and have now set a firm foundation within our plans for term two. 

Firstly, I’m excited to say that our show now has a name, Masakhane, meaning “let’s build”. And this is exactly what we aim to do -  by building knowledge in terms of gardening and healthy living within the community of Grahamstown; by  building a strong relationship between Radio G and Umthathi and by  strengthening  radio production within the station.

On Thursday we conducted our third workshop with the Umthati facilitators, which was all about getting comfortable within the radio studio environment. Once again Xoliswa showed her fearless spirit, which I know is grounded  in her commitment to the project. She embraced the radio studio,  putting all of herself into practicing the various voice techniques and interviewing skills. To our delight, Xoliswa was able to put her nerves behind her and discover a confident, conversational and listener friendly radio voice. We were, of course, not going live yet, and this helped to create a safe space for her.  With the help of Mary (Radio G anchor for the show) who shared her personal experience in radio, Xoliswa soon found her feet and gained confidence. With the show name being finalised and our third workshop under wraps, Litha and I were able to reflect on the last few weeks while drawing up our term two plan. We have set up the process we plan to take in the weeks leading up to the first live show. The details within these plans are informed by the principles of  service learning that we  have been exposed to in our coursework this term One of the key principles, as I understand it, relates to the importance of building strong relationship with one’s community partners. In this way, one can ensure that one comes to understand the principles in which they ground their work - and with this knowledge, develop resources that they can truly benefit from. Over the past six weeks I have tried to respond to this principle byworking alongside our community partners, learning as much as possible about them, and establishing bonds with them. I have, over the last few weeks, interacted, firstly, with the Umthathi project and  feel that I have established firm roots within my relationship with them.
Xoliswa sitting infront of the radio dest for the first time!
Secondly, I have interactedwith radio G, and in this way  I’ve got to know more about how the station operates. The shows tend to adopt a conversational and interactional approach with their listeners. Ultimately it is about people speaking to each other, so not the ‘top-down’ information dissemination, but rather a sharing of idea, and thus we aim to do the same with the Masakhane Radio show. So now, through the articulation of our Term Two plan, the basic logistics of Masakhane, such as the themes of the show, its editorial aims, the show vision, its personnel, etc. have been identified. But one thing that continues to linger at the back of my mind is that of the continuation and sustainability of the show once Litha and I have left the production partnership. We have touched upon this issue within our term two plans but a lot more consideration needs to be given to this. Especially as I occasionally feel Radio G is not as committed to the show as Litha, Umthathi and I are!

As for the next big step; it is all about marketing. We aim to do this through audio adverts, stings, jingles, posters and pamphlets. This is especially important, as no show, no matter what it is, is a success without its listenership!