Redefining radio

With the popularity of radio still rising in Namibia, in the past few years, there have been a number of impactful stations that have consistently given the public an entire world of discussion and expression. Eagle FM is one such radio station. With the platform adding to the elevation of public discourse and entertainment, this new station has Namibia hooked.

Tjil got an exclusive interview with Joseph Ailonga, the marketing, sales and technical officer at Eagle FM, who shares how the station is weaving the fabric of talk radio into the Namibian media sphere.

On how the station came about, Ailonga said the thought came from founder John Walenga, who saw gaps in the radio space in Namibia.

“People are having conversations but they are having those conversations elsewhere and they could be limited.

“Yes, people have social media platforms but sometimes typing is not the same as expressing yourself vocally. Most radio stations do a lot of music and just a bit of talking and we felt there is a need for news and talk radio, which is not happening in Namibia,” Ailonga said.

Eagle FM is the first station of its kind in the Land of the Brave. Ailonga defines talk radio as everyday conversation that has been multiplied to the masses. “It gives an opportunity to the public to have conversations wherever they are.”

Launched about seven months ago, Eagle FM has had an impact we can’t ignore. Speaking on this, Ailonga said the name has gotten bigger than expected. He said Eagle FM has been able to play within the political arena and influence the political space in terms of the public discourse.

The station organised the first presidential debate in Namibia. He said they were able to have politicians engage through the campaigns.

“The public was able to have a conversation during the elections and make a difference.

“I wouldn’t say the change in the way things panned out can be credited to us but we have to admit some of those who partook in the elections found a voice on Eagle FM and they were able to articulate their manifestos and positions, and during that period, you can see some of those who used our platform gained some tractions and votes,” he said.

As opposed to following the traditional radio formula, an element that is unique to Eagle FM is that most of their staff have a print media background. On this, Ailonga commented that their strategy is to have journalists run news on air. “We have not really looked at radio presenters per se, but we have focused our energy on hiring journalists because, ideally, what we would love to have is an investigative news team,” he said, adding that this is why most Eagle FM stories do not end on radio; conversations are continued online. “We are looking for content and we want to engage the public, thus we cannot have people who go on air and have no idea what they are saying.”

Asked what the station’s agenda is, Ailonga said factual, objective and unbiased reporting is their aim.

“What the people are troubled by we want to be able to deal with,” he said.

Some radio listeners say Eagle FM has a hardcore approach when it comes to their interviews, however, Ailonga dismisses this notion, maintaining that they simply ask the right questions.

“We want to be factual so we ask the sources live on air. We do not want it to be hidden. You have the opportunity to be able to state what it is that you need to state and answer the questions you need to answer as is.

“That is what we’re doing; I wouldn’t say it’s hardcore. If you feel it’s difficult, then there’s something you’re hiding,” he said.

On their digital strategy, Ailonga said they create most of their content. It’s for this reason that their social media engagement stands out from other radio stations. “We are a live radio station, so as the content is being created, it must also be conveyed to social media platforms simultaneously.

“Radio has the power to make or break. We are simply using it to make Namibia a great place to live in,” he said.

Ndapewoshali Shapwanale, who hosts On The Radar from 12:00 to 14:00 weekdays, told tjil what’s different about Eagle FM’s mid-day show is that they have a focus story which is a current affairs interview, and then also make sure they have enough voices to speak on the matter so that listeners are well-informed.

“I also host The Home Run from 16:30 to 18:30 with my co-host Shelley. We round up the day with topics that made headlines and accompany our listeners home,” she said.

Kalistu Mukoroli hosts The Brand Conversations With Alvaro, which is centered around public relations and branding, from 09:00 to 10:30 on weekdays. “We take what is out there in real life and we dissect it.

“Majority of people do not understand PR and marketing so with this show, we try to help them by having different experts to discuss aspects of the branding spectrum,” he said.

MICHAEL KAYUNDE