Mezgebu Hailu

From print to podcast - exile Ethiopian radio in making

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– By producing radio online we will give a voice to those seldom heard in Ethiopia, says Mezgebu Hailu while adjusting the levels on an audio file.

It's the third day of radio production training and he and his colleague Mesfin Negash have already finished over 25 minutes of a one-hour long radio program. Before they came to Fojo and Kalmar they had never worked with radio as a format.

– In Ethiopia, press freedom is restricted, but listening to the radio is easier, Mesfin says. 

They are both well-experienced journalist that had to flee Ethiopia in 2009 after the influential newspaper, Addis Neger, was closed down by the country's repressive regime. To start an online radio show is a chance for them and their colleagues to start contributing to the media landscape again, with neutral trustworthy reporting - but from exile.

– The existing media landscape is very polarised in many senses, and we believe there are voices that have no platform so far, explains Mesfin Negash.

– We will attempt to present the most important views, try our best to invite different experts with different views, and we will try to give some apolitical content to our listeners, like books and arts and popular music.

The plan is to produce a one-hour program every week. Their colleagues and fellow Ethiopians in exile live in the USA, and the production will take place based on Internet.

Mesfin Negash doing a rundown – One advantage with radio is it's easier to bring people on board, it gives us flexibility and we can produce material from many parts of the word. Also the software we need to do radio is fairly cheap, says Mesfin.

During the three intensive days in Kalmar our small group went through the whole process of producing radio, from planning, producing a proper rundown, recording and editing to copyrights and editorial guidelines.

– We knew only print and online journalism before, says Mezgebu Hailu, so to see how radio can be produced is new for us. Now we know the challenges and opportunities radio brings.

But the podcast is only the beginning.

– The dream is a fully-fledged online media with both audio and video and, at its best, it is also on short wave so it reaches people at home where our soul remains, says Mesfin before recording another voiceover for the pilot program.

Mezgebu Hailu gives a big smile and adds:

– A 24/7 web media is the dream, he says. We don't know what can happen with the technology in the future but now we are ready for it.

And yes, Mesfin and Mezgebu did manage to finish the one hour pilot program, including a discussion on exile media with two participants in the US, a book review, lots of cool music and a secret ingredient we are saving for the premiere broadcast of the new program.

Petra Quiding
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