by Ann Mikia, Internews in Kenya.
In the centre of Suswa town in Narok sits a unique shop that doubles up as the location of Ol Toilo Lemaa community radio station. The outlet, whose name means the voice of the Maasai, lacks studio acoustics, computers and other crucial studio equipment. The journalists do not even have recorders.
This is the situation Internews in Kenya was confronted with when it went around the country this year training the staff of three community radio stations: Ol Toilo Lemaa, Mang’elete community radio in Kibwezi and Bulala FM in Budalangi.
“We realized that they were trusted sources of news to the communities they broadcast to yet they had many challenges in collecting and packaging credible and compelling news, were run by volunteers who work without pay and lacked equipment,” says Ernest Waititu the Director of Programmes, Internews Health and Digital Media.
Besides the traditional training in feature production Internews sent two journalists Esther Macharia from QFM and Thomas Bwire from Pamoja FM in Nairobi, to mentor the stations on how to earn money to run and equip the outlets. The two-day training and mentorship with each of the three stations came up with recommendations to make them sustainable. “I was particularly impressed by the reception we got from Mang’elete because they took our training seriously and agreed on the structures to put in place in order to sustain the station”, says Esther Macharia.
Within two months, Mang’elete raised about a half a million Kenyan shillings. “The training was an eye opener to all the fundraising opportunities that we could not see.” says the editor of Mang’elete Mr. Meshack Nyamai.
Having created new revenue streams the future of the stations is bright. “We are on track, and following some of the new skills we learnt during our training on how to market our station, says Nyamai. “In the month of July and August alone, we have increased our revenues to Ksh474.000. I am very happy now we have paid our staff as we look further ahead.”
Similar excitement was shared by the station manager at Bulala FM who says the station has raised about Ksh130,000. The manager of the station Mr. Sam Namuleli was thankful of the skills they learnt. He says enabled his station to raise money to run a generator to address to regular power blackouts.