Story Book

Kenyan Radio Is Letting Me Down. Again.

This might offend some connections I have in the media industry and radio especially, but I just cannot keep it in any longer. I will not go live on air to talk about this issue so since I have this platform, well, might as well put it to good use and raise it.

Allow me to take you back to when I was joining Uni and my dad asked me what I wanted to do. I told him media; either radio or TV or both and I could see his heart sink. I asked him why and his response hurt me. The truth hurts, the say…

“Muthoni. That is the wrong choice to make. Look around you. Look at the TV. “It was the beautiful Catherine Kasavuli on the news… “You have grown up seeing her on TV. She doesn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon. Listen to the radio stations around you. It is the same people you hear. The only change that happens is when they are moved around stations from time to time but it is the same people in circulation. Now here you are, young and full of life and waiting in line. Mind you, you are not the only one Muthoni! Sasa utafikiwa lini mtoto wangu? You who has no connections with people in there. Neither I nor your mother know anyone in the media to move you ahead in the queue. Utafika vipi? Also remember Muthoni, for women, and especially those wanting to be on TV, they are somewhat disadvantaged because of age. You reach a certain age and are told you cannot be in front of the camera. Utakua umezeeka mwanangu.”

Like I said. His words hurt me. Not because they were malicious or disrespectful but deep down, I knew my dad had a point. He may not have known the way things go in media, he wasn’t an expert in the field, but from what we all saw and heard, HE WAS RIGHT!

Right there and then I vowed to myself to change the narrative. I remember going to bed, upset, in tears, crying out to God, telling him He needed to change things and I wanted to be his instrument to do that.

Now you know! I wanted to do radio, yes, because I loved the industry, but more to that, I wanted to prove a point. That even without special connections, you can get into this industry.

Homeboyz Radio came into my life and I have never looked back. My father has since told me he is proud of and surprised by me all at the same time. But what about the many fathers out there who never got and probably never will get the chance to say the same words to their sons and daughters because of this recycling culture that is the Kenyan media and especially radio? It was just the other day, a man I respect dearly and look up to due to his achievements on both international and local TV was taken to a radio station that is neither really HOT or COLD. A man, who let’s be honest, at this point in his life and career needs to be mentoring and training young Kenyans on the come up in the industry. Why would such a man try to reverse the course of the river?

By all means, ride the wave at your prime, get that paper son! But also be cognisant to the fact that at a certain age you will leave the seat to someone else. Don’t be like some of our African leaders who say they are young while in their 80’s!

My issue isn’t even with the presenters who keep being poached and recycled. Nani atakataa kazi? Not many. Not all of us think of the future of the youth. I will be hated for airing my views, I may become unpopular but let the truth be said. YOU THE PC’S (Program Controllers) who sit in the board rooms, YOU THE OWNERS of the radio stations who have the resources to train new voices, why not invest in the future of Kenya? Why are you so damn lazy? Why not take up the cross (and I know how painstaking and tiring it is!) to look for new presenters? Leave a legacy having nurtured the next amazing bunch of presenters in Kenya! If we keep on recycling the same presenters, we kill so many dreams! We miss out on such amazing talent out here! You in those boardrooms, deny Kenya growth!

Simple.

Now I know, I know, my time will come and I am fully aware I cannot be on live radio forever. That has never been my plan. I do not want to stand or sit in the way of the next “Mwalimu Rachel” who will do an even better job. I too will leave one day, but I do not want to leave without having left MY legacy. To mentor and open doors for others to get in. From there, they better do me proud and open a door to someone else. That my friends is how we will carry forward and pay back.

If Homeboyz had decided to poach and recycle presenters from other stations when they started, I would not be here. Many amazing presenters would not be here. Do you know what that means? It means I am forever thankful to HBR. Regardless of where my journey takes me.

To fellow radio presenters who may read this (and I hope you do read this!) I am fully aware that we get into this business for different reasons. Not all of us are about mentoring or training or ushering others. It’s perfectly ok! It really is. Maybe you found yourself here and hey, you are just good at it, or those bills have to be paid. I am not bashing you. You will be poached to another station that pays more and has a bigger audience. Take that opportunity if that’s what you want! But there will come a time maybe in your 40’s going to your 50’s when you will be approached to join a youth-ish station, and you will have to ask yourself: “Really? Must I really? Does it help my brand in any way? Won’t I do more if I was working from the back end in training the younger generation?”

Should you ever find yourself in that situation, I hope you will have the strength and wisdom to do the right thing. Not right by me, right by Kenya.

 

Love. Live. Learn.

Mwalimu Rachel.

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Comments (66)

  1. This is the greatest article I have read this year. So true about our industry.I hope they read this

  2. I love this piece .you did what you do best !airing our voices..my voice to be exact..my mom said almst similar words when I was about to join media schl.
    great job Mwalimu

    1. Hi Lucy! I can only imagine how hurt you were but mom said what many other parents are saying out here. You just need to keep the faith! Sometimes I wish I could be in a position to do more and not just write an article; but let our voices be heard. It’s a start sio? I wish you all the best dear. Thanks for being here!

    1. Hello my love! Haha! That conversation is one I will never forget! Waaah! But hey, gave me the gusto to go out there and change things. Asante for being my amazing supporter sis.

  3. But just how true is this Rachel!!?? I wish we could mention names and shame these people. I am not in the media industry but i couldn’t agree more.

    1. Hello Violet. Thanks so much for stopping by and reading my article/vent. Lol! Naming and shaming though does very little. If you see something isn’t right, say something or do something. I hope the stations involved (and they know themselves) will do the right thing eventually.

    1. Hey Andrew. Maze I know the struggle. You study, do well, then see the same people EVERYWHERE. Are we that small an industry really? Heri you tell me that they looked and didn’t find even one presenter.That I would understand… (and really doubt!) but understand. Lol.

  4. Exactly the same thing that forced me choose something else over media yet that had always been my dream career growing up. I would practice reading news on a piece of paper in the evenings during dinner and dad knew I would make a great newscaster. Coming to the realization of the sickening recycling in our media houses, I had no otherwise but to take a different career path.

    1. Reading this breaks my heart KR, it really does. I am so sorry. I however believe that it is never too late to re-kindle the spark. You may have another job now, but start a podcast, just for you to have fun on and enjoy the moments of living your dream. I hope you will consider this. All the best.

  5. Real Talk.I could have seen and said this but the best comes out when the media personel talk about it.Its Hard for the voice to come outta yard.Mwalimu already you inspired so many for the benefit of our industries i call that clairvoyance.

  6. Real Talk.I could have seen and said this but the best comes out when the media personel talk about it.Its Hard for the voice to come outta yard.Mwalimu already you inspired so many for the benefit of our industries i call that clairvoyance.

  7. May that well of wisdom continue flowing and running over such that you may never lack so much wisdom as such.#Word.

  8. i agree with you.Hope they read this and hope the aspiring radio presenters read this and know what is happening there
    So many dreams have been put to a stop.Thanks for airing it out.

  9. OMG!! Yeees.. I went through the same 2 years ago, my dad got tired of waiting for sure, hahaha.. But I took it to myself and decided to change the course when doing my degree, I feel that I wasted 3 years of my life doing a diploma that didn’t get me anywhere.. Anyway all said and done,I wish everyone would think the same way, and mentor young people.. There is talent and hardworking young souls out there.. All they need is a CHANCE!!!

  10. Very powerful stuff, Mwalimu. That tends to be the same in the States too, but maybe a little less so in terms of recycling. Regardless, you’re on point.

  11. This is refreshingly honest Rachel. Thanks for shining the light on the wrong attitudes that are systemic not just in radio but in most sectors in Nairobi. The same could be said for the gatekeepers in the music industry. Thinking about what part I can play to change this..

  12. Very good article, it’s gonna make people feel some type of way, but isn’t that what happens when one goes against the grain. So true though I have tried being in media for a minute too but those at the helm (not all), aren’t ready for a new crop. But hopefully this makes them re-think. Asante!

    1. Thanks for being here Morgan! I know how tough it can be. There is space for the new crop, the ones that have aged on those seats need to move and it’s only management that can move them.

  13. Brilliant, and true. It happens in a lot in the creative industry not just in radio/t.v and it must change.

  14. True. It’s a total shame… Am glad you spoke about it. It happens a lot even in the creative industry.

  15. I wanted to do Broadcast until several friends told me not to even try it. So now I’m saving for PR and Advertising. Its true though people just don’t want to leave, don’t want to help other’s maybe they are scared that the young lad will take their job.

  16. Thankyou Rachel, I believe that good people are out there and you are always a classic case and point, I am always motivated to see that someone who doesn’t even know I exist is out there right for me to be something,not because you can’t be doing what every greedy person is doing but because there is a future and even your kids are part of that future and you want better for them than you got,I pray you be showered with unlimited blessing n wisdom to help change tomorrow as I get the skill to join you in being part of that change that we all want to see but few are willing to start

    1. Truly humbled by your words Fredrick! Asante sana and I receive those words of blessings. We must take our place-that is what people call PURPOSE. I am glad to have found mine, I hope others find and exercise theirs too!

  17. It’s like read my own thoughts. I’ve always wondered about this Raburu guy on 10/10… He’s too old to be sitting around those teenagers but I enjoy his interviews in the morning

    1. Hi Ali! Lol. I hear you and Raburu is a friend. I think he is still finding himself on TV, whether it’s hardcore news he will do ama the less serious side. He really is a jolly guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously, so let’s give him time. Everyone deserves that. He is still young!

  18. This article not only potrays what happens in the Media industry but also music. As a musician i can relate. We young fresh talents are fighting for a chance in this industry but it seems the Media just like recycling the old cats(except homeboyz, God bless personlities like Dj FinalCut, ms Ruby,Mwalimu Rachael). Anyway i didnt come here to bitch, but say this was an amazing article.

    1. Thank you so so much Code! I had a discussion with my producer and we said no more interviewing the same old cats in the music industry JUST BECAUSE. We are trying to get other names outchea. I appreciate your feedback.

  19. Let me begin by saying I love your show and I can’t think of a better host than you
    Secondly this article screams TRUE in every angle I just hope ppl in the industry think of the future like you do.

    1. Thank you so much Khalid! I am here doing what I do because Homeboyz saw something in me. When someone takes a chance on you like that, you work your hardest to show then it wasn’t in vain. If only other stations would use that model and presenters only worked that hard too!

  20. Whoaaaa; I am short of words Rach. Not many would take this bold step and talk bout whats happening in our Mainstream media Esp Radio.
    Jeez I was angry seeing Jeff show on my trends since I don’t listen in & i thought that’s a Young mind & talent denied a chance in life,,, I can rant about it forever but I am truly grateful to this article. Keep writing Girl & doing whats Right.

    1. Thank you Winnie! I appreciate you reading the article and for your feedback. There are young people out here who are CRAVING to be given just ONE chance. I pray they get it.

  21. I was waiting for someone to air this…if only everyone could be having same thought of acknowledging the upcoming and giving them a chance to also showcase what they go

  22. There’s something about supportive parents and open minded young adults. Even the non supportive parents can be made supportive. We need to outgrow the culture where we’re anticipating to work in big media, why not start building the next big media house by starting smal by asking parents for That one camera or a mic for that online show /podcast or whatever it is one can do, we start there with the full knowledge that employment is plan b, not the original plan. Independent content production is the way to go. The have beens that the beautiful Mwalimu Rachel is talking about should be reference points on the type of content to produce and where it can sell, that’s where they come in. Let’s nurture content producers. #MyTake

    1. I couldn’t agree more Allan. This is something I have spoken about severally. Online radio is BIG in other parts of the world and slowly taking shape here in Kenya. Young people need to be brave enough to start with what they have. And what we have is the digital space. We MUST capitalise on that for our success. Thank you for your wisdom.

  23. I love the courage on this. So far so good the combination isn’t working as many thought. Hope all the stakeholders read thid. Awesome article. Big up

  24. Most don’t know what it takes to be legit and to be on everyone’s speech,if I don’t salute you I will betray my own conscience, Am A “street artist “IG @DennisKiarie Unknown still until you know what I mean .Yea it would be wonderful laters years to come, but what of now,the voice that spoke of the unspoken,the energy that drove me to type this text.if it wasn’t real what Mwalimu Raechal was talking about then my arrogance would allow me to assume it all, all those dreams in the streets are now a reality thanks to “our role models” on the Frequency and telly.thank you Mwalimu,that’s a life lesson