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My reflections on Eagle FM one year later

Eagle FM turns one year today – 29 June 2020. I remember coming to this property today last year. It was a cold morning and the place was quiet. Apart from me, there was aunt the cleaner and the Omalaeti IT crew who kept to themselves all the time.

Today the team has grown – 18 in all!

I am not used to working alone. But I had to endure being alone. That freaked me out. But the idea of working on a new concept freaked me out more. Loneliness makes your mind wander into places of fear. My mind did that today last year. I weighed all the options.

What if the project crumbles because people were not interested? That radio had slowly lost its place among people. What if… what if… what if… It was endless. But the business plan gave me hope when I read it again.

I deliberately decided not to think of my stammer on the radio. In fact, one day when we were discussing the concept with John Walenga, Jossy Joss and myself, I was the only one who did not volunteer to take up a slot. The two allocated themselves morning slots while I stared at them, amazed by their courage.

I never thought I could do it and later I told John that I could not do it. But he laughed at me and said I could easily be Eagle FM’s Richard Quest. I doubted him because Richard Quest has a hoarse voice, but he does not stammer. John insisted and I gave up, adopting a you-shall-see-what-I-am-gonna-do-when-the-time-comes.

A lot went on in my mind that winter morning, but I told myself it had to be done. After all, it was a new concept. People wanted a platform not only to vent out but exchange ideas. There was a lot going on on social media – so much that can be channelled and be turned into the meaningful discourse.

I told myself then that setting up new projects is difficult because I was on the team that founded The Villager and took it off the ground. I knew the difficulties. I anticipated the stress and doubts.

We had already identified the site for the studio. It was the old newsroom The Villager used. We had no fixed date to go live but John said the end of June. So, we sought quotations from building contractors. Work started and went on through weekends.

It involved designing (something I had not done before) and choosing paint colours. Jossy had an idea but he was serving his notice to leave Energy. There was so much to learn regarding setting up a studio and all the technical stuff.

One of the issues was about the people to be on the radio. There was an agreement that we can use established radio people to get off the ground. We had names and we reached out. There was interest but hesitation. They never came back. That left us with Jossy Joss with radio broadcasting experience. And me of course. And maybe John.

There were Kelvin and Ndapewoshali whom we had identified as possible team members. But like me, they had no radio broadcasting experience.

Looking back today, those who turned us down did the right thing because we wanted to create a new identity. To put out new voices. To engage a different listenership. After all, everything had to be new. New struggles. New challenges. New failures. New successes.

We were not sure of going live by the 29th of June 2019 but then it was the day when the Ondonga king would be inaugurated. It was an opportune time to start broadcasting. It had to be done regardless of the little stuff that was not in place.

Jossy Joss brought in Tate Fly (Kauluma). A tall, calculative, and soft-spoken man. His voice was the first to be on Eagle FM when we had the outside broadcasting from the north during the Ondonga king’s inauguration. That outside broadcasting lasted 11 hours. Afterwards, we had a chit chat in the studio about what Eagle FM would be. It was Ndapewoshali, Kelvin, Chamwe Kaira, Jossy Joss and me. We just spoke in general terms because the two people – the media ombudsman John Nauta and the city police spokesperson Fabian Amukwelele – who was supposed to be interviewed could not wait for long when the broadcast from the north took long.

The next day – a Sunday – Jossy and I came in the morning. I thought Jossy would take over, but he showed me how to use the mixer and then left. I had music to play and did not know what to talk about. Worse I had no idea how long I was supposed to be on air.

It ever I was thrown in the deeper end, that Sunday felt like I would drown. I had the mixer to learn to use. I had to struggle with content. And I ploughed on – stammering my way through it all.

I am not sure there was anyone listening in at the time except maybe John Walenga. We had no phones and so we would not know whether people were listening or not.

During the day, Ndapewoshali and Kelvin came in too. We had to have a plan. So, we started inviting people. Sheriff Seun Naude was the first one to come in and then SPYL secretary Efraim Nekongo came in the afternoon.

Alvaro and another marketing expert Helena also came through that Sunday. We had to kill time as much as we could.

Yet again, who could do it if you cannot have the well-established names on board, they further asked.

The fact was that they did not understand the concept. On our part, we realised too that we were not interested in beautiful voices but beautiful minds. Engaging the public on national matters and creating national discourse is not about beautiful voices but those who can sustain a conversation and present facts not just playing music.

A lot of people dismissed us early then. It was expected because by not paying much attention, they gave us enough room to make mistakes and correct them. If they had cared much to have interest in us, they could have noticed. Some never gave us a chance. The radio would not work. More so talk radio because what ‘will you guys be talking about all the time?’ A radio that plays no music, who will be interested, they asked.

We have been given owners. To some, we were an AR radio station. To others, we were and are a Swapo Party propaganda station. Ironically to the ruling party, we were and still are an anti-government radio. Later we became a Dr Itula station.

We are neither of those but just a radio station that has taken up space that was available. This could be frightening most people. But again, the truth has never been such an easy thing to live with.

Looking back today, I have no regrets and I am sure the team too has no regrets. It has not been easy. It is not easy. It will not be easy. But truth is that it has been done. It is being done. And it will be done.

On behalf of the Eagle FM shareholder, the board, the management and the team, let me thank you all for support so far.

  • Wonder Guchu





Wonder Guchu

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