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Judging from his comments when he met with some representatives of the Institute of Public Relations at Flagstaff House this week, President John Mahama clearly has some juicy goat bones to pick with frequency modulation radio in the country and so do I, Jomo:

 

There are now a trillion and nine-six thousand radio stations in the republic and some common features appear to run through the broadcasts of many of them:

 

Sometimes you tune into a talk show and there is an incensed and extremely angry clown seated in the studio or calling from an indeterminate location and trying so very hard, so early in the morning, to scream down the sky over the rest of the 25 million of us and kill us dead.

 

Some radio panel discussions purporting to debate national issues pack so much hate speech you would think that radio managers are not in the least bothered about the potential impact on peace and security.

 

Some rabid political creatures who speak on radio yell and scream at listeners as if we owe them something or are in the least interested in their partisan political quarrels.

 

Then there are those radio stations which have become customized boxing rings for partisan political enemies to fight early morning bantamweight bouts in:  a talk show host calls up a leading political or public figure who has just made bad press, thanks to a round of bad-mouthing from a political rival and says:

So-so-and-so has said this and that about you, what is your response? His response naturally, is a rage-fueled tirade against So-so-and-so, whereupon, the latter calls into the radio programme to let down his hair. A big fight starts on air.

Some radio panel discussion are so rowdy you wonder how the discussants hope to be able to communicate anything worthwhile to anybody: The highest point of all the mad stuff is usually when all discussants begin talking at once like the famous tongue-speaking competition on Pentecost Sunday.

 

The president’s particular beef with radio talk shows is the often propaganda-corrupted studio discussions of national issues: The president complained bitterly that “extreme partisanship” had “taken over radio talk shows” and that the politicization of every national issue in radio discussions stood in the way of national cohesion.

 

The first gentleman acknowledges the importance of radio as one of the major contributors to the development of Ghana’s democracy, but  like many other people, he wants radio talk shows to replace political party representatives who dominate the talk shows, with people who have the requisite knowledge on issues discussed on radio. It is difficult to deny that he has a point, Jomo:

While a non-scientist who is broadly read and informed could make valuable contributions from a lay point of view to a discussion of a scientific subject for example, he cannot be a substitute for a specialist in a scientific field when it comes to debate on the subject in question.

 

You would expect then, that radio stations would invite not lay people from political parties but specialists, to discuss national issues relating to such specialized fields as energy, global warming, the economy, crime, agriculture, mining, oil and gas, technology, governance etc, but what does the average radio station do in Ghana?

 

It invites both self-proclaimed and closet political activists who are more concerned with the propaganda value of whatever contributions they are able to make to a radio discussion than the quality and substance of their contributions as informed knowledge! Therein no doubt, lies the big man’s beef!