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Opinions of Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Columnist: Awuni, Manasseh Azure

Joy FM’s Kids are Better than the Politicians

Joy FM’s Super Morning Show seems to have monopolized the GJA award for the best morning show in Ghana. Creativity on the part of the producers must be highly commended. They never fail to surprise listeners.

Perhaps it is about time others learnt something from the way panelists on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show are selected. Bringing the same people (usually politicians) who presume to have knowledge on every imaginable subject under the sun is not only monotonous, but it also makes the programmes very boring. It is unfortunate that the state-owned media are also guilty of this trend, which is popular with the private radio and TV stations. Consider GTV’s Breakfast Show, which is not like the educative Talking Point by the same station. The trouble the Director-General of GBC went through early this year after he truncated the show because of political imbalances in the constitution of the panel was very unnecessary. The show must not be for politicians as it appears to be. Yet, each morning you find the same party boys introduced by the hosts. They discuss floods, find solution to congestion in the city, pretend to know everything about medicine and all issues that come up in the media. When it comes to politics and governance they profess more knowledge than the best political scientist in the world.

Technocrats on the various issues are forced to sit behind their screens and watch these boys, some of who speak grammatically handicapped English, advertise their ignorance. The only effort of these political panelists worth applauding is their enormous skill in politicizing everything including the amount of rain God gives the nation. It used to be a bit better when people like Mr. John Mahama and mature politicians met in the studios. It is no wonder that the GJA did not award the best TV morning show category at the 14th GJA Media Awards. Morning shows, like other discussion programmes, must not have constant panel. Each day comes with its own topical issue and the panel must be people who have ample knowledge about the subject matter under discussion. Populists’ programmes, which are very common with the Ghanaian media, target politicians who will shout in the studio to the delight of the host. When the noise reaches its peak, he then announces happily:

“Today the studio is very hot as you can hear. The lines are now open and we want your views on what our panelists are saying.”

Just then, one would hear equally ill-informed serial callers whose contributions will tell even stupidest listener their political colorations. At the end of the day, they keep the ignorant listener more confused than ever. On Thursday September 10, 2009, when I tuned to Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, I heard voices of little children and thought they were these UNESCO-sponsored kids who were in the studio to recite human rights lines written from abroad. I had to listen further to know that they were actually panelists for the day. They discussed issues ranging from the economy, national security, education, love and relationship to religion and culture. The three children aged 13, 11 and 11did not only show an exceptionally brilliant performance considering their age but they also discussed the issues devoid of politicization. This is what made them better than the politicians. They sometimes disagreed with one another but they did so with decorum. It was the beauty of what is termed as the giving voices to the voiceless.

The media is said to represent the voices of the voiceless but that is not true of the current state of affairs in Ghana. The politicians have the stage before, during and after elections. Their haste to politicize all issues end up making them advance very unintelligent arguments when they really think they are smart. After the show, many a caller was intrigued by the sterling performance of the children and suggested that children from less endowed schools be brought to the show, which the host promised listeners they would soon be on the show. While I commend Joy FM for giving political slots to nobodies, I call on owners of media houses to give the ordinary people a voice. Politicians are not experts on every issue and must not be the same voices.

Besides, those who allow ill-informed party boys into their studio’s are treating viewers and listeners with contempt and this must stop. When the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Kwesi Ahoi, took his turn at the Meet the Press this year, he questioned the sense in journalists always contacting politicians while experts are ignored. The politicians themselves are beginning to realise our folly.

The president said, the minister said etc are just too much and I believe journalists and editors should listen, watch and read works from their foreign counterparts.

Credit: Manasseh Azure Awuni [azureachebe2@yahoo.com]

The writer is the SRC President of the Ghana Institute of Journalism.