Youth and Radio in Namibia: Part 1
On the eve of World Radio Day, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) hosted a roundtable discussion with five students in their final year of Radio Production at the College of the Arts in Katutura, Namibia. These students were Franklin Muningirua, 24, Ronell Sechogele, 21, Celma Ndhikwa, 22, Marcello Lucian Franz, 20, and Janet Kaiuina, 21.
The theme of this year’s World Radio Day is ‘Youth & Radio’, so we wanted to talk to the future of Namibian radio about the current state of radio in the country.
In this, Part 1 of the discussion, we hear the students’ view on radio’s place in Namibian society, their hopes for the future of Namibian radio, and gender diversity in the industry.
Radio in Namibia
The discussion began with comparing radio with television and newspapers.
“Not everyone has money to buy a newspaper. Not everyone has access to a television,” Celma said. “Radio is much easier for people to access and get information.”
Ronell: Its accessible. It can be accessed at any time, any place.
Janet: You can’t carry a TV around, but you can listen to radio wherever you are.
Marcello: Even in the bathroom!
Ronell: Even if you to visit somebody the radio will be on. You can ask, ‘Did you see the newspaper today?’ ‘No, but I heard it on the radio!’
Ronell chose radio with the intention of bringing some of her own personality to the airwaves.
“I chose radio because I think radio needs something new and fresh, and I think I can definitely give that to the radio community. I think I can bring something different to the radio station as well.”
She highlighted another advantage radio has over television and newspapers in Namibia: A greater diversity of local languages.
“The languages they use in radio are much more than in television or newspapers, because in Nambia they are only in English, Afrikaans, Oshiwambo. But in radio we have Damara, Otjiherero, Silozi.”
But radio in Namibia also has its weaknesses.
“Hopefully [in the future] radio will be taken more seriously. I don’t think it’s really taken seriously in Namibia because it’s not visual,” Celma said.
This can be taken as a positive and a negative.
Celma herself is interested in radio partly because of the skill it requires to tell a story without visual aids.
“Radio is not visual so it takes a lot of energy, more ideas for people to understand you in the sense that you talk but they can’t see. It takes another level to express the picture in radio, unlike television where it’s put on [viewers’] plate. They have to visualise and it takes a lot of creativity.”
Janet also appreciates this whimsical aspect of radio – that viewers have to use their imaginations to visualise the story they’re listening to.
“With radio you have the advantage to imagine something,” she said. “When you listen to a certain radio presenter you have this image of this person when somebody is telling a story.”
Celma: There are so many weaknesses [in Namibian radio]. They overpower the strengths in Namibia, unfortunately.
Ronell: There are a lot of radio production students on Namibia, so hopefully in a few years we will have more strengths than weaknesses.
Franklin is one such student. After graduating at the end of this year he hopes to work as a radio journalist, covering issues in depth and producing more substantive content, currently lacking in Namibian radio, such as magazine shows and documentaries. He’s particularly interested in getting youth voices heard on radio.
“I chose to study radio because radio needs people like us. Radio needs the voices of us, the youth.”
Like Franklin, Marcello is passionate about youth voices and in creating the platform for them to be heard.
“I chose radio because I feel like it’s a great platform, because I’m part of the youth and I just want my voice to be heard.”
The consensus is that women are well represented in radio, however mostly as presenters for entertainment programmes rather than being involved in news and current affairs, or behind the scenes as producers.
Franklin: Women [in radio] are mostly used for sex.
Ronell: Ladies are only used as presenters because of their voices. When you hear their voice you think ‘Oh my God, she probably looks like this’. … Also, the girls just want to have that fame [instead of working behind the scenes].
Franklin: And more often than not you won’t find a girl from [the University of Namibia or College of the Arts].
The group felt that many of these female presenters were chosen because of their voices, and had little or no professional training in radio production. The group also offered some explanations as to the scarcity of women producers.
Celma: There is a stereotype that guys have much more experience and that they understand more than women.
Janet: Maybe the girls don’t think they’re good enough to become producers. At times, us women, we look down on ourselves, not knowing how capable we are. Without knowing it, most times we give the opportunities up to men because we think we are not good enough. We don’t have the confidence. Men have been the dominant ones, they’ve been taking over everything. So as women we are maybe afraid and feel that men are superior to us.
Ronell: I think that hopefully the ladies that are studying radio production would have the confidence and ability to go into radio. When I started studying radio I just wanted to be a presenter. But now I want to produce shows because the process I’ve been through. The fact that I can bring across other people’s voices, other ideas, to the radio stations, that’s what’s making me hope that ladies have the confidence in themselves to be producers, not presenters.
Janet: I think we need to advocate for women. Give women the voices they need. Women, we’re just in a bubble and we’re afraid to go out there. Advocacy would be the best thing to bring women out front.
Radio has helped Janet find her own voice.
“I chose to study radio because all my life I’ve been this shy girl, so radio is a platform for me to express myself and let the true me shine out.”
Celma: I think we’re getting a lot of women in the industry lately.
Marcello: As presenters.
Celma: Not only as presenters! From our experience, in my course I’ve learned how to produce, how to write scripts, how to present – the whole package. Given the opportunity I can do it … You have to change the stereotypical mentality that women cannot do something.
Marcello: Hopefully in the future there will be more ladies as producers. I feel like you ladies are so capable as producers. I see what you do everyday and know your ability.
Tomorrow, on World Radio Day, we will publish the second part of the discussion, where the students share their thoughts on radio and youth.