ArcelorMittal Liberia, an iron ore mining operation has received commendations for empowering community radio stations in the country in the country.
Community radio stations in Bong, Grand Bassa and Nimba counties where the company have spoken positive about the company’s partnership and support to them.
Community radio stations across Liberia are operated, owned, and influenced by the communities they serve as a source of news and information. They are generally nonprofit and provide a mechanism for enabling individuals, groups, and communities to tell their own stories, to share experiences and, in a media-rich world, to become creators and contributors of media.
In Liberia, community radios have made themselves essential, especially after the war through the creation of broad-based content that is popular and relevant to a local, specific audience but is often overlooked by commercial or mass-media broadcasters in Monrovia and other urban areas.
While they are operated, owned, and influenced by the communities they serve, they sadly survive at the mercy of “handouts” either from politicians, philanthropic groups or individuals.
The bad state of Liberia’s economy which does not provide any effective development of small and medium-size enterprises that could support advertisement with these stations could be blamed.
Also, many of these community radios are owned and operated by politicians, especially representatives and senators in the fifteen counties who exercise political authority over them.
In Bong County, the management of Super Bongese Radio and Radio Gbarnga amidst the lack of compensation for staff, fuel oil and basic maintenance cost, ArcelorMittal is the only concession in Liberia from whom they are able to source small finances to keep running.
“The only money coming to us is income from the ArcelorMittal Jingles and Inside AML 30Mins pre-recorded features,” they noted.
Also, in Nimba, the community radio executives of Nimba, Radio Shenwii, Radio Karn, Voice of Peace, Nimba Kergarmahm, Radio Saclepea, Voice of Tappita among also hailed their partnership with ArcelorMittal as the only concession in the iron rich county that was given them the opportunity to air jingles in return for monthly payment.
The Nimba community radio stakeholders think that AML’s approach of introduction jingles and the Inside AML features is yielding fruits with community dwellers being able to get real-time news and information unlike before.
“If we have more of what happening between us the ArcelorMittal, the station will be developed and will be able to deliver more news and information to the member of the communities in which we operate,” said radio Nimba station manager, Melvin Suah.
Five community radio stations including Magic FM, Abele-Jay FM, Radio Dukpa, Radio Wee and Radio Gbehzohn formed part of the engagement in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.
The Grand Bassa team also outlined difficulties associated with the running of community base stations in the county and appealed to ArcelorMittal to improve the number of advertisements it was giving.
“At the end of the month, we need to be able to compensate our staff. We don’t have the money because the no contracts and advertisements coming to us,” said Christopher Yawoe, manager of Magic FM.
Yawoe said he appreciates the partnership with ArcelorMittal but called on other businesses, and concessions in the county to join by giving advertisements to community radios.
Sylvester O. Dobson, the manager of Radio Wee in Grand Bassa’s fourth district lauded AML for trusting his station to broadcast its AML’s contents.
“As we stand, we are waiting to receive payment from ArcelorMittal to be able to stretch hands to those who are holding the station up and running.”