Liberia youth radio dedicates US$40,000 multimedia complex

Alternative Youth Radio (AYR) in Liberia has dedicated a US$40,000 cutting-edge multimedia complex in Zorzor, Lofa County. The ceremony was held on Thursday, May 11.

AYR was founded in 2016 by James Papy Kwabo, Jr., a 2019 US State Department Mandela Washington Fellow. For over half a decade, the community youth radio has provided training to more than thirty adolescents, in radio broadcasts, including news gathering and reporting, program production, community volunteerism, among others.

Diverse groups of Lofa residents, including chiefs, traditional and religious authorities, as well as young people and students gathered to witness the ceremony. INTERNEWS-Liberia Chief of Party, Lien Bach and officials of media organizations including the Press Union of Liberia and the Association of Liberia Community Radios (ALICOR) were among several other groups who also participated in the event.

Giving an overview of the initiative, AYR’s Chief Executive Officer, Kwabo, Jr. expressed delight that citizens would turn out in large numbers to celebrate the success of their community’s young people.

He also stated that the completion of the multimedia complex fulfilled a commitment he made to the US Department of State while visiting the US as a Fellow of the 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

He said the institution has grown from using a borrowed FM transmitter in a container to now operating from a complex, just six years after he first proposed the idea of the Alternative Youth Radio, despite the challenging circumstances at the time.

He indicated that, he and his team remained committed and determined to the realization of the dream of AYR of creating a one-stop-shop media center for the total transformation of rural youths through capacity building, education, access to information and empowerment.

With a structure measuring 55 feet by 40 feet and including, among other things, two studios (broadcast and production), a conference room, two bathrooms, four offices, a lobby, and entry and exit doors, Kwabo asserts that construction of the complex began in the middle of 2021 on the station’s own 1.5 lot of land. The Broadcast Studio he said, is 15 feet by 15 feet, while the multipurpose conference room is 20 feet by 20 feet in size and the production studio is 8 feet by 11 feet.

The AYR’s CEO went on to say that he contributed US$11,500.00 of his personal earnings to the project, while the station received a loan of US$ 22,500 from the Zorlayea Community Bank and the remaining US$6,000 from individual and institutional donations.

Kwabo used the occasion to raise more community and individual Liberians’ support while announcing a proposal to build a Multimedia School of Journalism and Professional Youth Development Center as a subsidiary to the existing Alternative Youth Radio and Media Complex.  This he believes, is in line with the institution’s mission of recruiting, training, empowering through employment and transforming the lives of rural young people by providing access to information, hands-on media training, employment opportunities, and at the same time, serving as a platform for credible local content.

Mr. E. Timotheus Kamaboakai, the National General Secretary & Chief Executive Officer of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) of Liberia, and Guest Speaker at the dedicatory program, for his part, stressed the significance of elevating the great contributions young leaders are making to society to inspire other young people to challenge themselves.

Madam Lien Bach, Chief of Party of Internews, which implements the USAID-funded Liberia Media Activity project, commended the radio station and the community at large for their contribution to the change through Alternative Youth Radio. According to her, USAID supports community radio stations in Liberia because of the local population, and the overwhelming turnout at the dedicatory ceremony proved that the locals are indeed taking control of their radio station.

Bach also praised Kwabo for his great leadership in station management and advancement, particularly in areas where the institution is growing at a rapid pace. She believes that this growth is being made possible through Kwabo’s selfless leadership and innovation, the dedication of his team, and the community’s continued trust in the station.

However, she pointed out that based on the station’s productive operations, her impression of Alternative Youth Radio, which dates back to the time when evaluations of various media institutions around the country were completed, has continued to increase over time. In addition, she assured the public that, INTERNEWS-Liberia and USAID are proud of AYR’s accomplishment and will continue to assist in any manner they can to ensure that the station achieves its desire goals for the public.

I am quite impressed by the way he runs the radio station, especially from the very beginning when Internews and our partners FeJAL, ALICOR, and PUL went out to choose radio stations to partner with. Every day, my impression gets better,” Lien concluded.

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