Collaborate, Create, Communicate

Making (radio) waves at the AgKnowledge Africa Share Fair – Experiences from a trainer at Day 0

Making waves – that is radio waves – was one of the pathways explored and made use of in the effort to make ag knowledge travel from the AgKnowledge Africa Share Fair. To continue making (radio) waves, it is good to reflect. 

This post is based on a report by Gladson Makowa, Media and Communication Manager, Story Workshop, on his experience as a trainer on making and using radio (and audio) for knowledge sharing for the Day ‘Oh now I know how to… learning and training day (Day 0) at the AgKnowledge Africa Share Fair

Organising Day 0 – choosing the methods and tools

As the coordinator of Day 0 at the AgKnowledge Africa Share Fair, I (Nadia) wanted to expose participants to a mix of tools and methods that they could use to ‘make their ag knowledge travel’ in a feasible, realistic and meaningful way for their particular activities, in their contexts and for the people with whom they want to share it. This meant that the newer, exciting social media tools such as blogs as well as videos HAD to be on the agenda as  two popular ways of communicating nowadays.  A session on collaborative writing  and a delegation from Google to offer sessions on Geo Tools and Collaborative Tools were organized by the CGIAR ICT-KM Program. Other session ideas were put forward such as the one on ‘making the most of the media’ by Susann Thorp of WrenMedia and the one on Mendeley by Katarlah Taylor (IFPRI). And of course we couldn’t forget the wide array of useful and fun, face-to-face knowledge sharing methods (many of which can be found in the KS Toolkit). 

“Turn on the radio!”

Gladson showed what radio was all about during the AgKnowledge Africa Share Fair, as he undertook interviews of participants to make into radio programs

But not to be left out of this mix of tools and methods being offered as ways of sharing knowledge was our old trusty friend the radio. While some see radio as a relic of the past, the interest in radio, and audio files, is not only still strong but growing, especially in Africa. And there is an exciting set of tools and channels for producing and broadcasting ‘radio’ programs and related audio files these days. 

As radio is still making waves in the communication of agricultural knowledge, it deserved a session of its own. And who better to offer such a session than Gladson Makowa, a strong believer and active participant in the radio world in Africa: 

“We know that many scientists have a dream of communicating their discoveries in their own way on the radio, but they do not know how to record, edit and make it into a programme. The aim of the session was to share simple participatory styles that one can use. This was a chance to all scientists and producers to share knowledge and gaps in a participatory radio programme production. By the end of the lesson people acknowledged that they know how to plan for a radio programme, record it and at least edit it and let others broadcast it for them. Those who are not sure at least they know how to make radio producers produce what they want in a way that can easily be monitored and evaluated.” 

Gladson came to the Share Fair and conducted two training sessions on radio and also presented his work during sessions on other days. The aim of the session offered by Gladson was to familiarize people with: 

  • A list of radio formats
  • Participatory radio formats and things that justify participatory format
  • Messages/program matrixes (program planning)
  • Recording basics and the characteristics of good recorders
  • Actual recording (this was not done in all classes because of time constraints)
  • Downloading to a computer
  • Editing basics and writing for ears.
  • Mixing basics using Adobe Auditions and cool edit pro

Hearing from others…

Participants learned a number of skills around radio production and distribution from Gladson's session on Day 0

After the Share Fair I wanted to find out more about what Day 0 meant to people. A survey sent to participants provided vital information from those who attended the training sessions, which was documented and shared in the blog post ‘Helping us learn: Participants give feedback on Day 0‘. But I also wanted to find out how it was for the trainers. A few trainers sent emails with feedback and perceptions, but Gladson sent me a fully detailed report of his session… which I want to share with you here. 

Gladson opened the report by saying: “I was involved with training the scientists and other producers in how to produce participatory radio programmes which are development oriented. ” 

The day was good to me because it was satisfying the way the class filled up. The people were able to recall many things from the lesson.  The training session was interesting and many people wanted to have extra classes after the normal schedule.  For example many wanted to practice editing audio files. They got enough theory and hints for producing a programme that can encourage farmers to adopt technologies but they needed more time on editing.” 

I believe people learnt many things from the lessons. They were able to understand how radio producers think and their limitations. Not only that but also most importantly it was emphasised that farmers look at the benefits of any technology to them before adopting. They would rather learn it from a story from a fellow farmer on how the technology benefited them than to learn straight from scientists.” 

Lessons on how to make effective radio

A key indicator of the success of his training and a source of pride for Gladson was that : 

“The lessons and philosophies of the radio training were repeated and echoed in so many presentations and discussions which followed afterwards. To me it was satisfying experience.” 

But reflecting on the session and what could have been done differently or could have been improved, Gladson stated that “it would be good to have enough time at least the whole day or two so that people can practice after learning and come up with a programme.” 

Gladson was also interested to capture the feedback from the participants of his training sessions to  see what they had learned during the sessions. This included: 

  1.  I have learnt a lot. In our programme we would like to involve the radio producer to produce our programme and now we know how we can brief the producer to achieve our goals. We want farmers to share success stories.
  2. I am not an expert in the radio but now I know how we can organise different information for different target groups.
  3. For me I have learnt the programme matrix. Now I can organise the issues, what are the objectives, the possible outcomes and the targets to improve the programme which we produce.
  4. When you are interviewing and producing any programme you need to be a good listener yourself. If you cannot love your programme and isolate things which you think you can learn from your programme do not expect someone else to learn from your programme.
  5. I have learned about participation in radio and how to involve all the stakeholders in the radio production.

And what did Gladson himself learn: 

I learnt that if we media people can interact a lot more with scientists in the way it was done during the training session there can be a better understanding between journalists and scientists. My observation is that there is a great desire from scientists to work with us journalists but most of the time we disappoint them. Many times it is because the scientist wants to give information and lecture, the style which we journalists do not like. Journalists want the human face to come out. We want to focus on how important and beneficial the issue or technology is. Farmers too want user friendly information. They want to know the benefits of those technologies. If they approve of the benefits, learning becomes simple to them since it comes from their demand. 

We hope all those participants of the session and Gladson himself continue to make (radio) waves! 



The organizers of the share fair acknowledge the contribution of CTA to making Gladson’s participation in the event possible.

Blog post thumbnail: Uploaded by ba1969 on http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1296170 

Photo of Gladson conducting an interview:  on Share Fair Flickr by euforic services 

Quotes, with permission, from report by Gladson Makowa 

Thank you to all trainers from Day 0: Katarlah Taylor, Antonella Pastore, Tania Jordan, Susanna Thorp, Pier Andrea Pirani, Google Team (Evans, Jacqui), Gladson Makowa, Maureen Agena, and the KM4Dev crew.