Liberia community station Peace FM rescued with new broadcast equipment

Peace FM in Harbel, a community radio station founded in 2004 by Mercy Corps in Liberia has received a cash donation of US$6,000 from James Emmanuel Nuquay, a senator for Margibi.

Like many other community radio stations across Liberia, Peace FM was founded under the Mercy Corps peacebuilding program, called ‘Diompilor’ (a phrase from the Kissi tribe, means oneness). As the country had just returned from war and was preparing for its first post-war democratic election in 2005, the Diompilor initiative was meant to assist the peace-building efforts by promoting community dialogue and freedom of expression.

However, the station was turned over to the community to own and operate, and sustainability became a huge challenge as it was meant to operate on nearly a free basis, unlike commercial radio stations. While the impact of the community radio was being felt and embraced, the equipment gradually faded.

The Radio Netherlands Training Center (RNTC) through the Liberia Media Center (LMC), a media development component of the Press Union of Liberia in 2009 came in and replaced nearly all the station’s broadcast equipment, including the 35 watts broadcast transmitter.

RNTC installed a new 300 watts transmitter, antenna, studio mixer, microphones, headphones, and other broadcast equipment.

The new set of broadcast equipment after it was installed, boosts the station’s transmission and further energized the staff, although they still volunteered. The station in 2010, a year after the installation of the equipment by RNTC won the Community Radio Station of the Year award, from the Press Union of Liberia.

Twelve years later, the equipment has outlived and gone through consistent repairs with little improvement.

However, because community radio stations are community initiatives, most counties in Liberia make allotments from their annual County and Social Development Funds, allotted to the counties through the national budget. However, little has been done in the direction of community radios in Margibi, as most politicians would prefer to establish and sponsor their own radio station, as propaganda machinery for them.

Over time, promises are made by politicians aspiring to be leaders in the county, but they soon turn to the idea of starting a propaganda house, rather than supporting a relatively independent community initiative.

It was therefore a surprise when Senator Nuquay visited the station and presented the cash amount of US$6,000 for the purchase of new broadcast equipment, including a 1,000 watts transmitter. He said the amount was in fulfillment of a commitment he made to the institution, following his election in December, last year.

When you requested me to help, I promised to do so when the hand is there. So, have just been blessed and thought to provide the help I committed to you,” the senator said while presenting the amount during a visit to the station.

Peace FM’s acting station manager, Daniel Zayzay received the amount on behalf of his institution.

Senator, on behalf of the board, management, and staff of the station, I say words are inadequate to express to you for this gesture. We appreciate this donation and commit the amount will be used for the intended purpose,” Zayzay said.

The head of technical services at the station, Akoi Tellewoyan said the amount will facilitate the purchase of a 1,000 watts broadcaster transmitter, and upgrading of the antenna, among others.

As a community radio, Peace FM apart from being a platform for community dialogue, and providing news, information, education, and entertainment, has trained several young people who are currently making contributions in the media and key sectors at the national and international levels.

One of them, for example, Gbatemah Senah started as a child broadcaster at Peace FM in 2006 and became a station manager there, for two years, before transitioning to the national level, as an Executive Producer for the Liberia Women Democracy Radio, and later Assignments Editor at the award-winning new platform, The Bush Chicken. Senah has won six media awards from the Press Union of Liberia for his excellent performance in the media in Liberia.

Also, Moses Garzeawu who served as Sports Reporter earlier at Peace FM went on to work for the national broadcaster, Liberia Broadcasting System, and other key national and international media institutions, such as the Catholic Media Center, Radio Veritas, and the Voice of America. He also currently runs private media development and consultancy institutions in Liberia and is well respected in the sector.

Meanwhile, Francis Kpaka who is a former head of Programs and Business at Peace FM, and current Human Resource Manager at the Liberia Domestic Airports Agency (LDAA) has hailed the senator for coming to the station’s rescue. Kpaka said the senator’s donation is the highest contribution by any single individual, in the history of the station.

The senator’s initiative will drastically increase the low coverage of the station. It will provide professional and up-to-date information to the community,” Kpaka said; adding, “It will also afford more community members the opportunity to speak to national issues.

According to him, the contribution made by the senator is timely because the station is currently surviving on the outdated transmitter that operates at the mercy of parts from other broadcast equipment. He encouraged members of the community to provide technical and financial assistance for the maintenance and sustainability of the station. He also called on other officials of the county to emulate the good example of Nuquay.

Tags: | | | | | | | | |