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Thursday, December 7, 2023

#Ho_Radio_Review: The Bustling Airwaves Of Ho – Part 2

By:  Jonathan AtsuTachie

Brunch time or mid morning programming has always been exciting even in the days of the Volta Star Radio and VP FM duopoly in Ho, which lasted for more than a decade after the advent of private radio in Ghana. The current 10am to 12pm style for mid morning shows, which basically revolves around good music for listeners as they go about their daily work routines, Live Presenter Mentions (to enrich the wallet of the stations), tit bits on various topics such as love, fashion, entertainment, food and more which has gained grounds on Ghana’s radio landscape was pioneered by VP FM in the radio market of Ho.
As such, they were holding down listeners with this style until the duopoly ended when Hope FM entered the radio market in Ho from their hill-top studios, followed later by US FM, Kekeli FM, Tosh FM, and lately, Kuul FM. This write up takes a look at the mid-morning shows on the various stations operating in Ho and how they are faring in the opinion of the writer.
Afrikiko Mix on Kekeli 102.9 FM
The show which airs immediately after the Super Morning Show (what a name to give to a show which runs mostly in Ewe?) on Kekeli FM is gradually becoming the goose that lays the golden eggs for the station. The host Dr. J (or something like that) has played a major role in making the show the favourite of most listeners in Ho and its environs. Anyone who doubts the popularity of this show in Ho, should just take a walk from the Ho Police Depot, through the Central Market area to Ho Polytechnic junction, and he/she will be surprised by the number of shop owners (informal sector workers) who listen to the show.
The host is simply a gem when it comes to blending English with Ewe (and other local languages) on a show that demands of you a good sense of humour and a gift for selecting good music. His background as a comedian, (oh yes, a comedian) also helps in keeping his faithful listeners glued to the show and with popular punch lines like ‘dze wontoe gbe’, the popularity of the show is set to soar to unimaginable heights. Judged by the number of adverts and Live Presenter Mentions which run on the show currently, the Afrikiko Mix fever also seems to be catching on well with businesses and media buyers. This ultimately translates into a fatter bank account for the Post Office square-based broadcasters and a bigger pay cheque for the bubbly host, l hope.
The only problem l have with the show is its duration. A show which is supposed to run for two hours has been running effectively for only an hour because a Pastor, yes a man of God (Rev. Kakra Baiden) has to deliver a sermon mid way through the programme. This, l consider to be an ‘unnecessary’ disruption to an otherwise perfect show. Perhaps, the top brass at the station should consider extending the duration of the show to cover the slot after the mid day news from Joy FM which is currently reserved for playing cool or sentimental music.
In any case, cool or sentimental songs do not always have to be foreign love and country songs. We have our own Kojo Antwis, Beccas, Afias, etc who also have songs suitable for lunch time radio. Who is going to play their songs if we do not play them? Great show with a great host!!!!!

The Kuul Express on Kuul 103.5 FM
The strong showing by the relatively new station in this segment of the radio market in Ho has been driven largely by the dexterity with which two individuals (the regular hosts) DJ Caleb and Mr Avorgah, – depending on who is available at the time that you are listening to the show– have handled the show so far. Even though l am of the firm belief that Mr. Avorgah does better as a morning show host, he has not done badly at all on this show too, especially if you are the type who enjoys his afro centric choice of music.
DJ Caleb (or Caleb Delanyo Avexo, when he is doing sports), on the other hand, serves his age mates (the youth) better because he plays their kind of music and invariably speaks their kind of language. This shows clearly in the type of people who contribute to the show anytime he (Caleb) is on air through media such as what’s up messages, SMS texts, facebook messages, etc with all manner of shout outs (mostly from boys to girls).
Either way, one of them has to step down for the other to be the regular host of the show if the managers are bent on building a continuous bond with the listeners of the show. But the big question is who will step down for the other to take full control of the show? That decision lies firmly in the bosom of the programme guys at the station and not that of a single ranting listener like me.
Rhythms’ Cafe on VP 98.1 FM
As l mentioned at the beginning of this write up, the mid- morning show on VP FM pioneered the current 10am to 12pm style or format being used by most stations in Ho. The show on this network has been known by various names including, Work With Pleasure, in the past and has always been a popular choice for the urban youth within its catchment area. This was largely made possible by the youthfulness of the people (mostly student volunteers from Ho Polytechnic) who have hosted the show over the years. Interestingly, because the various hosts have other commitments i.e. lectures, the show has been hosted by almost all the presenters who have passed through the doors of the only campus-based radio station in the Volta Region.
The show’s popularity has made it one of the few programmes on the network which are currently helping VP FM to remain a credible competitor in the cosmopolitan radio market in Ho. But in the face of stiff competition from stations like Tosh FM, Kuul FM, and Hope FM which also target the same market, the show definitely needs a regular host to let the listeners bond with the person over a period of time.
One young man who has impressed me lately on the show is Bruce Dylan (hope l got the name right). His choice of music is great for an urban students’ radio show and his ‘swagish’ way of speaking the Queen’s language is exactly what will get the urban youth hooked to his show. But recently, he seems to have abandoned the oldest station in the Volta Region, to do his thing on Tosh FM’s mid morning show. His stint with Tosh FM was short lived because the last time l listened to Rhythms’ Cafe on VP FM (that is if my ears were not deceiving me) he seems to have made a quick U-turn back to his former employers (VP FM).
Whatever be the case, the game of musical chairs on this show has to stop. The show needs a regular host, be it Dylan or any other good hand. The student volunteers could be deployed to do other stuffs i.e. reading announcements and tit bits on various topics on the show. Still reminiscing the good old days presenters like Hitman Freezer, Patrick Selasie Kudiabor, Richard Adjei and many others used to serenade us with good music on this show. Those days were really great!!!!!!!
The Brunch Time Show on Tosh 103.9 FM
As l mentioned in part one of this series, the folks at Tosh FM seem to understand the market in which they are operating in – that is the large informal sector in Ho and its environs. They have, therefore, been doing everything within their means to grab a fair share of that market.
Their mid morning show, for me, has taken over what used to be the territory (or was a playground?) of Hope FM when DJ Census was hosting the mid-morning show on Hope FM. Their game plan is simple: Provide the listeners, mostly cab drivers and traders, with a good dose of danceable tunes, a few tit bits on issues such as health, entertainment, etc and do shout outs to as many loyal listeners as possible. This strategy by the Dagbe-House broadcasters seems to be catching on well with their target audience and this is gradually making the station a force to reckon with in this segment of the market.
When Queen Mabel joined them from US FM – much to my surprise because her style was at variance with what the guys were rolling out at the station – l thought the game plan was about to change but it never did. This lady, in my opinion, is Volta Region’s response to Doreen Andoh. Honestly, l hope one radio manager will take her and groom her to reach greater heights in the industry.
Bruce Dylan also came along from VP FM with his own swag to handle this show but just when we were beginning to enjoy his flow, he abandoned us mid way through the journey and surprisingly resurfaced at the studios of his former employers (VP FM). The show is currently holding its own against its competitors in the market, and with the likes of Pastor Kojo Quarshie around to direct affairs, l expect the show to grow even bigger. Just let the music flow, folks!!!!!!!!
Brunch Time on Hope 93.1 FM
The mid-morning show on Hope FM, which started with DJ Census (or is it Mr Agbenyegah?), was a good competitor in this segment of the market in Ho. The programme enjoyed a large following among radio lovers in Ho and beyond partly due to the large number of people DJ Census personally knew in Ho and did shout outs for. Cab drivers were heavily involved in making the show big at the time and the host reciprocated the loyalty of his listeners by playing good danceable music to their delight.
However, the ‘steam’ the show was known for, seems to have died down after the exit of DJ Census from the show. This situation threatens the viability of the show as the competition in that segment of the market is even getting keener. Maybe, DJ Census’ style was too ‘loud’ for the liking of Mr. Tukpeyi and his hence men at Hope FM because the station’s stock in trade now, is to keep things ‘cool’ on their network. To this end, the programme now runs with a lot of cool and mid tempo songs dominating the playlist. In fact, it is not unusual for the show to run for one full hour without a single voice interrupting the music (guess they don’t have LPMs to do too). Whilst this may be a plus for music lovers, am not too sure it fetches the purse at the station much in terms of revenue because even the number of adverts being played on the show has reduced drastically over the period.
That certainly spells doom for the hill-top broadcasters and the earlier they work on this, the better it will be for all of us. I love my music, and as such, love Hope FM but if the current style on the show is not fetching money, then the show needs a revamping to bring it back to its former status.

Mid Morning Programming on Volta Star Radio
By now you would have noticed that Volta Star Radio is probably the ‘station with a difference’ (apologies to the Hope FM guys) when it comes to programming. Perhaps, that is the GBC way of doing things. As such, mid morning programming on the station is complex. Maybe, they just don’t want to follow the crowd because any one who cares to tune in to the station on weekdays after their morning show is likely to listen to a variety of programmes i.e. talk shows, musicals, paid-for interviews with herbalists, etc. Whether this strategy is working for them or not is not my business but one thing am certain of is that their ‘compatriot’ at Koforidua (Sunrise FM) is making it big by adopting the same line of programming as the private stations in that area.
Still, ede ewe, de eblu. Hurray!!!!!!!!!! Happy 80th anniversary by the way.
PS: Part III of this series looks at one of my favourite segments of the radio market, the late afternoon or drive time shows. It is certainly the entertainment ‘powerhouse’ of radio.
Click here for the Part one of this article
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: kofimarketing@gmail.com

Mobile contact: 020 7398103

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