Rosemary Ejirika, a Nigerian talk show producer, is responsible for two weekly radio programs, one covering general health issues and one covering HIV/AIDS, for the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos. FRCN is the only radio station that is broadcast nationally, with at least 40 million listeners.
Ejirika, who has been trained and mentored by the staff of Internews Network’s Local Voices project in Abuja, Nigeria, won the 2006 Nigeria Media Merit Award. Her program, Radio Clinic, won in the “Best Program”category for excellence in journalism. Radio Clinic was nominated for the top award along with two programs produced by BBC World Service Trust. This is the first time that a program broadcast by FRCN has won an award.
“This is about the highest point in my career,” says Ejirika, “and I know that if I did not attend the Internews workshops, it would not have been possible.”
Radio Clinic is a 30-minute interactive health program that features medical experts as studio guests. Ejirika says the program is unique because “it gives listeners access to free medical advice live on air.”
Her winning entry focused on fertility in women. “What we planned for was a one-off program, but listener participation was so much by way of calls and text messages that we ended up doing a three-part series on the issue.” That was the immediate impact. She adds, “Our audience level increased, because people are interested in issues like these that have direct links to their lives.”
Ejirika says her training at Internews significantly improved her journalism and production skills. “Before the workshops at Internews, there were so many things about radio production that I did not know, but at the workshops my eyes opened to new tricks in radio production like how to use natural sound and teasers in my program, and how to get interviews with the right experts and people affected by the issues to be discussed.”
Ejirika attended a Local Voices workshop for editors in 2004 and an advanced workshop for health reporters in 2005. She says lessons in interviewing techniques and making a feature story part of a program have been very useful for her two programs.
“I can now ask my questions very well in short and clear sentences with one issue at a time, and the feature story helps my listeners to understand the topic under discussion and then participate meaningfully in the program,” she says.
Local Voices works with local journalists and radio stations in Nigeria to increase the frequency and improve the quality of locally produced radio reporting and programming on HIV/AIDS issues. Local Voices encourages journalists to incorporate the views and voices of those personally affected by HIV/AIDS into news and feature reporting. Local Voices does not produce its own programs, but builds the capacity of local media professionals to report on the epidemic.
Internews’ Local Voices project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the US President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).