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Peace FM's Adjoa Yeboah Agyei Bares It All...
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Adjoa Yeboah Agyei
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It is quite difficult for a journalist to make a mark and maintain a successful career in Ghana but it is even more difficult when the journalist is a female working with a radio station that uses the local dialects as its main language of communication.

Adjoa Yeboah Agyei, ace female broadcast journalist and a main force in the newsroom of PEACE FM, OKAY FM, NEAT FM and UTV has exclusively told 'News-One' the trials and triumphs of her career and lamented the current perception among the media fraternity in Ghana that journalists who work with English speaking stations are of a better quality and have a higher professional aptitude than their counterparts working with stations that transmit in the local languages.

Is it true your journalists from English speaking stations look down on the rest of you who operate in the local languages?

Very true. I have experienced several instances like that. Broadcast journalists from English speaking stations generally feel the rest of us who operate in the Ghanaian languages on radio are inferior. They carry this attitude even to public functions and events.

They feel they are the real journalists who speak English and better understand the issues while the rest of us are an unprofessional bunch of illiterates and are only messing up on public radio.

And even when it is time for awards, they are mostly given to journalists from the English speaking stations although we all do the same job. But the truth is many of us who operate in the Ghanaian language are not unprofessional illiterates as they make it seem. It is only a medium of expression we have decided to communicate in.

What can correct this impression?

I believe it is a matter of time. When we started it was even worse. I remember we were branded ‘nkurasefuo’(villagers). Even your own paper, 'Daily Guide', at a point branded us as villagers. I remember this headline in 'Daily Guide' several years ago “PEACE FM And Their Usual Nkurases3m”. That was around 1999. So many newspapers were against us - calling us ‘nkurasefuo’, then they latter changed it to ‘nkonkonsafuo’ and said we were gossips. But it is changing and even our audience has expanded to include persons who speak English yet decide to listen to Twi-speaking stations. We have also become better with time. Change takes time and there would be a time we would have all the other local languages on public radio.

As a female, do you get intimidated in your line of duty?

Sometimes it is a little intimidating. But when you know you are having the right information on the issue and asking the right questions, you get an inner confidence and you do not really have fears. I also get a lot of confidence because I have command and dexterity over the language I use and get a lot of encouragement from my office and the team I work with. It is true some people are difficult to interview but generally; it has been a smooth sail.

How would you describe yourself?

I am a female broadcast journalist and I am a married woman with four children. A very simple person. Very outgoing.

Married? That is news to me.

Oh everybody knows I am married. I’ve worn this ring for 15 years and I am still married. Everyone knows I am married.

Who is your husband?

Oh he is not a public figure. He is Kofi Owusu and into upholstery. And we have four children. My eldest child is 10 and would be 11 by January.

Why did you enter journalism?

It was by coincidence. I never planned to become a journalist and growing up, I wanted to become a teacher. I think I got fascinated by my teachers. My mother was a food vendor at the GBC office in Kumasi and I always helped hr with the cooking and serving. Many of her customers were journalists from GBC so she had a lot of links in the media and after school, she literally pushed me into the job.

I learnt on the job when I started and it was a lot of fun. The raw talent was there but I had a lot of polishing to it. I remember my mother was the one who taught me how to write and read Twi and it became very handy. Even with my voice, the fact that I was singing in the choir helped a lot in how I modulated my voice and my tone.

Where did you start?

Officially it was with capital Radio in Kumasi around 1996 and from there I moved straight to PEACE FM. I have worked with PEACE FM since then. Wow. It has been 18 years since I started. I remember when I moved to PEACE FM, the station had just started. I know someone who knew the owners of PEACE FM and that was how I got the link.

How has it been over the years?

It has been interesting and I love it. You see, I am in a career I consider as both a hobby and a talent so I find it less of a challenge. I am only having fun and enjoying my job.

Radio hid your identity until you started the UTV morning show.

Oh yes. Radio really helped me. It was easier for me there because God gave me a good voice and my mother helped me learn Twi and radio hid my face. Now that I am on morning TV every week day, things have changed a bit. I have been on TV briefly some years past but this new exposure is different and I wish I still had an unknown face. Though TV comes with its advantages and disadvantages, I dislike the disadvantages so much that I do not enjoy the advantages.

I love to be a private person. It makes me free. It makes me Adjoa. I have things I love to do and I have things I don’t like to do. But when you are on TV, you have to behave in a way and act in a way you may not really like.

How do you combine your career with your family life?

It has been hectic. I wake up at 3:30 am on weekdays and prepare breakfast for my children and make sure they have all they need to go to school before I leave for work. My residence is also a distance from my office and I have to get to the office before 6 am for the UTV morning show. Then I move to Peace FM to work on Kokrokoo. I get engaged in other work-related activities and eventually get back home around 10pm

Do you have a nanny ?

Not a nanny persay buy a niece and a few family relations. My mother is also around and they all help me a lot with the children. They have supported me greatly all my working life.

Has radio paid off?

Yes it has. You enter into a job with expectations of putting bread on your table and getting a place to lay your head at night. So far, I am getting what I had in mind and the future looks bright by God’s grace. It is just the fulfillment I need from my job what is left is for me to be recognized and maybe awarded in my profession. It gives you a good feeling for working so hard to make Twi radio popular.

Would you recommend radio broadcasting to a young lady?

If the person has the will and passion for journalism, yes. If not, then forget it. Journalism requires passion for the job and the humility to learn. After some 18 years in the job, I am still learning. Everyday, I learn something new. But many are not willing to learn. They feel they know it all

Who would you be in next 5 years?

I believe you would be talking to an Adjoa Yeboah Adjei who has gained more experience in broadcast journalism. I may even not be in active radio although I would still be in the media. I won't do this forever and may lose interest and develop a passion for other things.

Any final message?

I want to thank all my listeners who have encouraged us to come this far. But people should understand that we are humans and we also make mistakes so when such human errors do happen, they should forgive us and draw our attention. I also thank my employers for giving me the opportunity and to my family for supporting me.

Thanks for the interview

I should be the one thanking you. Please use a nice picture.
Source: Halifax Ansah-Addo ([email protected])

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