By Jonathan Atsu Tachie
For a very long period of time the people of the Volta Region in general, and Ho in particular did not have the luxury of choice as far as radio was concerned. In fact, for more than a decade after the advent of private radio in Ghana, the people of Ho were left with no choice but to move their FM radio dials between GBC’S Volta Star Radio and Volta Premier FM (popularly known as VP FM ) owned by the SRC of Ho Polytechnic. For the records, VP FM is a few months older than Volta Star Radio and has always given Volta Star Radio a good run for their money, especially in Ho and its environs.
It is worth mentioning here that the youthfulness of the presenters of VP FM at the time naturally made the station the darling dial of most young minds in Ho. Indeed, radio in those days was fun with budding talents like Emmanuel Reagan Tetteh, Joseph Kwame Amevor (Aseco, arguably, the best borborbor DJ ever known in this region), Princella Eyram Adu, Hitman Freezer, Patrick Selassie Kudiabor, D.D. Atobli, Divine Norvieto (the Hon. Minister for Love and Romantic Affairs), etc made radio worth listening to and made VP FM a very popular FM dial in Ho and its environs.
For Volta Star Radio, its strengths in those days and l dare say even now, lie in their ability to attract ‘the oldies’ in Ho with rich cultural content on their network. Suffice, to say though, they also had a few youthful hands on the turntables who won them some listeners among the budding youth in the region, mostly outside the catchment area of VP FM. Names like Derrick Johnson Kamassah, Kafui Kumagah, GQ, etc easily come to mind when talking about the folks who held the fort for Volta Star Radio in the youth segment of the radio market in the region.
In recent years, however, the radio industry in the Volta Region has changed tremendously with the establishment of many radio stations across the region. Ho, the regional capital, is now home to five additional radio stations namely Hope FM, US FM, Kekeli FM, Tosh FM, Kuul FM and if the information available to me is anything to go by, more stations are on their way to the H.O. City, as Ho has been branded of late. The end of the VP FM-Volta Star Radio duopoly in Ho due to the arrival of these new stations has brought in its way many talented presenters who gladden the hearts of many radio lovers, including yours truly, with their unique presentation skills.
To make this series meaningful I intend to express my honest opinions (not binding on anybody, though) on various segments of radio broadcasting vis-a-vis the Ho market. In that case, the morning shows, the mid- morning shows, the late afternoon shows (or what most uninitiated radio fanatics refer to as drive time shows), the sports shows and entertainment review shows will be looked at in parts. If I live long enough after finishing this series l may look at the late night shows and probably, do a piece on the very ‘noisy’ dawn broadcasts from the so-called prophets and men of God.
The Premier Morning Show on VP FM
Being the longest running morning show on radio in the Ho municipality, the show which airs from 6:00am to 10:00am on weekdays has been the ‘flower bed’ for many budding radio talents most of who, l must say, have moved on to pursue other interests both in the media and outside the industry. The likes of Divine Norvieto, Richard Adjei, Israel Pentem (DJ Scott), Edem Torsah, etc all cut their teeth as dominant morning show personalities on this noble platform. The show, like my height, has seen many modifications over the years from the days of being the only English language morning show in Ho to the current situation that it faces stiff competition from the morning shows on stations like Tosh FM, Hope FM, Kuul FM, etc.
The current host of the show, Juliet Nugble, who doubles as the Station Manager, has brought a breeze of freshness to the show since she took over from Edem Torsah (or is it Togbe Ahorgo?) when he left to join US FM to host their morning show. Content on the show has also improved greatly but the appearance of Paul Senyo Dome on the show to review the newspapers in both English and Ewe has outlived its usefulness, especially in the face of stiff competition from Kekeli FM which seems to have targeted the Ewe-language audience in the market as well. The man is great at hosting his own programmes i.e. afe ne nyo, toli time, etc and l think he should be restricted to those programmes (my unsolicited opinion, anyway).
The morning show on Kekeli FM is aired mostly in Ewe, and from where l sit, they seem to have gotten that portion of the Ho market firmly in their bosom. So, to my folks at VP FM, just concentrate on the English-speaking audience and also introduce more youth-oriented segments into the Premier Morning Show and we the young minds will be cool with that. After all, the station’s target market, am told, is the students in and around Ho, a cosmopolitan audience for that matter.
The Morning Show on Volta Star Radio
Perhaps, constrained by their mandate to satisfy the diverse ethnic interests in the Volta Region, Volta Star Radio’s morning show, which airs usually (that is if the station is not off air) after the 7am news from their mother network, GBC, on weekdays, is ‘shared’ among the Ewe-speaking audience, English-speaking audience and the Akan-speaking audience using an interesting quota system. To this end, the show airs in English on Mondays and Thursdays, in Ewe on Tuesdays and Fridays and in Akan on Wednesdays. This strategy, in my humble opinion, could easily backfire (that is if it has not done so already) in this day and age that radio stations are specializing along language lines. But once again, Volta Star Radio, being the state broadcaster has the responsibility to satisfy the needs of these diverse groups in the region and no matter how bitter this pill is someone has to swallow it in the interest of national unity.
One segment of the English version of the show which has kept the show going is the ‘Nsenpii Parliament’ hosted by Jack Toronto. A platform which he uses to tackle the many developmental challenges facing the region. Due to the design of the programme, this popular satiric segment is not a daily feature on the show and yours truly is not comfortable with that, especially, when the road to my holy village, Takla, is still in a deplorable state. We need the guy (sorry, the man) on air every morning. Simple and short! In any case, the bloke speaks Takoradi-spiced Twi, GBC-standard English and an Aveme-brewed Ewe, all of which l enjoy so much hence the need to give him slots on the Ewe and Akan versions of the show. Someone needs to keep some of these lazy (and l dare say incompetent) public office holders in the region on their toes and in my opinion, he is the chosen one.
Efo Kwame Senyo, Little Ben Vidzreku, and Tordia Anani Gbadago need to add a lot more spice to the Ewe version of the show to keep it going in the face of competition from the private stations. One thing that has impressed me over the years, though, is the in-depth knowledge of these men in Ewe language and culture. Folks, keep it up and one day, just one day, the youth will also appreciate your efforts and pay more attention to your show.
Hope Alive Show on Hope 93.1 FM
Hope FM, in my opinion, is the Ho version of Atlantis Radio in Accra. It seems Mr. Edwin Lotsu Tukpeyi and his boys have taken a deliberate decision to keep things cool on their network, devoid of any ‘noise’ which is gradually becoming the stock in trade of some radio stations in Ho. As such, their morning show, Hope Alive, is where one runs to when you want to avoid the political cacophony from the mostly ignorant NDC and NPP communicators who sit in the studios of Tosh FM and Kekeli FM on daily basis.
The Hope Alive Show is the only source of sentimental music in the morning and their choice of topics for discussion on the show is always developmental in nature. The show, however, has not seen much modification since its inception with Jerry Komla Addo as host, through the eras of Kelvin Lambert Hudson and Blessings Sogah, to whoever is in charge now. To hold on to their youthful listeners, mostly cab drivers in Ho, the guys on the Galenkui Hills need to introduce more segments on the show targeted at them. I have also taken note of the partnership between them and VP FM to broadcast ‘Perspective’, a news analysis programme on Friday mornings but really, what is the point in that partnership? Is it because the CEO of Hope FM is a regular panellist on the show? Maybe not. Thumps up guys! Keep rocking us from the hill-top studios with good music.
The Super Morning Show on Kekeli FM
This is one show which has captured the imagination of most radio lovers (those who want a show in their native Ewe language) in the Ho municipality since the station started operating in the city a few years ago. The decision by managers of the station to air the morning show mostly in Ewe seemed to have worked for them judged by the huge patronage the show enjoys, especially among the Anlo-speaking community in and around Ho. In fact, before the inception of this programme, l wondered why no radio manager in Ho thought it wise to present a morning show aired entirely in Ewe since Ho is a predominantly Ewe-speaking community. Kekeli FM’s morning show is great when it comes to their takes on developmental issues in Ho and beyond but am not too sure l can say the same for the political discussion segment of the show.
I have been wondering what the point is in assembling those loudmouthed NDC and NPP ‘foot soldiers’ in their studios on daily basis to repeat their parties’ stands on almost every issue of national concern. In any case, the game plan of the so-called party communicators from these two parties is not too difficult for any keen observer of Ghana’s political space to understand. Defend your own good deeds and misdeeds and attack your opponents no matter what the circumstance is. I find this game plan disgusting, to say the least. If the guys at the Post Office square-based station insist on maintaining the political discussion segment on the show (which l know they will) l will advise them (and it is only an advice) to always invite the best among the lot from both sides of the political divide to discuss issues because am not convinced their current ‘analysts’ are the best we (I mean the people of the Volta Region) got to offer as far as political party commentators are concerned. The views and opinions expressed by the ‘foot soldiers’ they invite currently to the show are so childish that, sometimes, I feel like throwing my radio set into the stinking drains in front of the YMCA office in Ho.
The Super Morning Show on Kekeli 102.9 FM is great currently without the ‘nonsense’ from the party ‘foot soldiers’ they invite on to the show and it has the potential of becoming even bigger if they pay attention to the sports and entertainment segments to make it more vibrant. Efo Israel and his crew deserve a pat on the back, not on the buttocks, for good work done so far.
The AM Show on Tosh 103.9 FM
I am always delighted when talking about this show because it is the show that brought back one of the dons of morning radio in the Volta Region, Israel Pentem (DJ Scott), from his self-imposed exile in the southern part of the region, Aflao to be precise. This young man is simply good at finding a fine balance between wit and seriousness on morning shows, a trait that endeared him to many radio listeners and l guess many radio managers, hence his frequent moves from one station to another. Once again, as l predicted, his stint at Tosh FM as the founding host of the morning show was short lived because the Leklebi-born dude seemed to have moved on to only God knows where.
The exit of DJ Scott, as he is popularly known, left the managers of the station with no choice but to place the mantle of hosting a morning show on the shoulders of a relatively inexperienced lad, Randy Edudzi, with all the pressures that come with that job. Just like any newcomer to a demanding job, he struggled initially to find his footing on the show as he was forced by the situation to move from the comfort zone of being a sports presenter to a new role on radio which demands of you a thorough understanding of sports (which he obviously have), finance, economics, politics, love and any other subject worth talking about on a radio morning show.
He has grown into his new role quickly, much to my admiration, and has become the el capitano of all topics judging by the depth of some interviews he conducted on air with some of the big shots in society. The introduction of the largely-experienced Pastor Kojo Quarshie (the former Station Manger at VP FM and recently, the Corporate Communications Director for US Group of Companies) on the show in my opinion helped the young Tsito Sectech product (Randy Edudzi) greatly in assuming this all important role on morning radio until he went off air recently, for reasons am not too sure of.
The producers of the Am Show understand the market in which they are operating, which is the Ho Township, even though they seem to have extended their transmission to cover places like Amedzofe and Kpedze all in the Ho West district, of late. The regular insights into developmental challenges facing the Ho municipality from their ‘rovering’ reporters always make the show a delight to listen to.
Perhaps what Tony D and his hence men need to grow the show is to take a second look at the crop of party commentators (or are they foot soldiers?) they parade in their studios every morning to review newspapers. Who in this world wants to listen to the often-opinionated views of a political bootlicker who assumes his very survival on earth depends on his party being in government. These guys, like their cohorts who go the studios of Kekeli FM, sometimes insult the intelligence of the good people of Ho with some of the ‘analysis’ (or, empty talks) they do on air. We are just tired of listening to the tainted views of these attention-seeking political novices. Let’s empanel men and women of substance, who understand the issues and are in the position to address them from a professional point of view. This is all that the Am Show on Tosh FM needs to become a bigger player in morning show circles in Ho.
But come to think of it, they don’t play much of Tony D’s own songs on the show as l would have wished. Hahahahaha!!!!!! Guys, you are doing well in the face of all the challenges l think you are going through. Brighter days ahead.
The Breakfast Drive On Kuul 103.5 FM
This is the latest addition to the morning show stock in Ho and the show which started with a co-hosting arrangement between the Black President and Etse Atiedeku has made modest gains within this short period of its existence. But watching (or should l say listening?) from afar, l am getting the impression that the managers of the station have not found the right host and format for the show yet, judged by the number of people who have hosted the show so far.
The Black President and Etse Atiedeku combination was great but the Etse and Mr. Avorgah (the big cloth) pairing was even better. The two guys – sorry, l mean men – seem to have developed an on-air telepathy between them and that made their takes on various issues always a delight to listen to. Suffice, to say though, l always envy Etse’s penchant for greeting fufu vendors in both Ho and Hohoe for very obvious reasons. Just kidding oooooo. Also, Mr Avorgah’s ability to interact with callers from various parts of the Volta Region in their own versions (dialects) of the Ewe language is a strength that a station with such a huge regional presence needs.
Etse’s presence on the show is also crucial because of the large following the show enjoys from the Afram Plains enclave. Hope the top brass at Kuul FM gets my drift. That is, a huge chunk of the show’s audience needs to be communicated to in Ewe. As such, it still baffles me why the Rastaman (Etse) only comes to present the news at 8am in Ewe these days, and off he goes to mind his own business at only God knows where.
One young (and innocent sounding) man who has also taken a bite at the big pie on Kuul FM is Walter Kofi Gamor, and l must say he has not fared badly at all. The sports segment on the show has been fantastic so far with another young chap, Caleb Deladem Avexo, fully in charge.
With all these success stories l find the recent introduction of Blessings Sogah from Hope Fm on the Kuul Morning Drive a bit surprising. Maybe, l am the only one who has been surprised by this move. The managers of the station know better so who am l to complain, l can only listen and enjoy him for as long as he lasts on the show but if the laid-back style at Hope FM is what the managers at Kuul FM want then l expect him to deliver that without much stress. Hope he will stay on the show long enough to justify a review of his performance.
PS: To those who thought at the beginning of this article that l was going to stick out my fat neck and state the position of these shows in the pecking order; l say to you ‘you lied bad’(whatever that means). I don’t want to be the reason why someone loses his/her job. There are millions of other listeners across the region and it is absolutely the responsibility of the Programme Managers and CEOs of these stations to find out where their morning shows lie in the pecking order of morning shows in Ho. Part ll of this series will look at the mid-morning shows of these stations vis-à-vis the radio market in Ho.
NB: The writer is a Senior High School teacher and an avid listener of radio within the Ho municipality. You can connect with him on Facebook.
Writer’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mobile contact: 020 7398103