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VOICES FROM THE FIELD: Simone Grant in Liberia

2009 July 23

Simone Grant is a intern with Search for Common Ground Liberia.

Search for Common Ground, known in West Africa as Talking Drum Studio, supports community radio as a tool for peacebuilding. Radio Kergheamahn is one such studio, partnering with Talking Drum Studio Liberia.

Lekpeley Gborlee, a producer and announcer for Radio Kergheamahn, reads the announcements amid the newly restored technical equipment.

Lekpeley Gborlee, a producer and announcer for Radio Kergheamahn, reads the announcements amid the newly restored technical equipment.

“Ganta was Plunged Into Darkness”

Lightening struck Ganta, Liberia. Lekpeley Gborlee was reading the daily News Announcements on Radio Kergheamahn, the local community radio station, when the whole studio went black.  “I heard a clap of thunder the first time, but I continued with the announcements.  Then I heard a second clap of thunder and I saw the lightening strike through the studio and the computers exploded,” recalls Gborleee.  From Grand Gedeh to parts of Guinea, all that could be heard on radio frequency 94.5FM was static.  As it turns out, lightening had struck the satellite dish, which conducted the caustic current throughout the entire electrical system destroying the audio mixer, computers, CD and cassette decks, tuner and the transmitter.  Unfortunately, it would be another two months before Radio Kergheamahn was back on the airwaves.

Immediately, the effect was felt.  Musu Kardamie, co-chair of the Concerned Women’s Group, said, “Ganta was plunged into darkness.” People who would turn to the radio station to hear the local, national as well as international news no longer had a reliable source for information. Fortunately, the revenues from sponsorship programs and the very popular public announcements established a financial cushion for the radio station.  Still, concerned listeners immediately visited the station and offered small donations to rebuild the broken equipment.  Members of the community continued their tradition of generosity by donating hot meals to the workers who came from Monrovia to repair, replace and restore the technical equipment.

The community radio station is precious to the citizens of Ganta.  Paramount Chief, Nyan Monker explains, “Radio is important in giving [the community] information that we weren’t hearing before.  The central and local government used to do things and we wouldn’t know about it.  Now, the radio station can follow behind the government and make sure that the community is informed.”  It is no surprise that the community rallied behind the station during its time of crisis.  as the community actively supports Radio Kergheamahn’s daily operations.  The Public Announcement segment is very popular with the both local government and citizens alike.  Additionally, various local organizations and religious groups consistently sponsor programs on the radio station.  It is this consistent support that truly protected the radio station against terminal crisis.

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