Monday, March 21, 2011

Strengthening our partnership with Radio Grahamstown

This week, Annie and I worked on strengthening our audio production partnership project by consolidating a set of agreements with  Radio Grahamstown.  This included the allocation of air time to the show, and the identification of a producer and anchor from the station’s volunteer team. We met with the Station Manager, Phumlani Wayi, to talk through these agreements, and in this way laid down another building block  for the project. By the time of our second workshop, which took place on Thursday afternoon, we felt ready to start building on these foundations.  The Radio Grahamstown producer and anchor  were present, and it seemed to us that all we had to do now was to encourage the team to start planning the show and honing their production skills. Things did not, however, begin smoothly in the workshop. Let me take you back two days before this workshop:

Annie and I went to have our second meeting with Phumlani Wayi, to present to him our  project proposal. This document had all the necessary information about  the purpose of the partnership, and the roles we expected ourselves, Radio Grahamstown and Umthathi to play within this. In this meeting we came to  an agreement about the week in which the gardening/healthy living show would be launched (on the week of  18 April). We then left the proposal with Phumlani, asking him to read over it, and also to come back to us before the Thursday workshop with names for  anchor and producer for the show. When we later made contact with Phumlani  he said that he was happy with everything in the proposal, and that he had already got the ball rolling with regards to identifying an anchor and producer for the show.

On the day of the workshop, two Radio Grahamstown volunteers arrived. They are Thenjiwe the producer and Mary or “M.K” as she is widely known, the anchor. In this workshop, Umthathi was represented by Xoliswa and Scelo or “S.D” as he is popularly known, who is one of the facilitators and is also the communications and liaison officer of Umthathi. At the beginning of the workshop, Thenjiwe and Mary seemed uneasy and a bit pensive, and  I took the initiative to ask what their concerns were. They admitted that they had only learned an hour before that they would be involved in the workshop and that they were to be an anchor and producer for the show. This revelation set our workshop in a somewhat different direction for a while, as Annie and I had to go back to basics, as it were, to explain the kind of show that was to be produced, and the different roles that each member of the partnership would fulfill.  The Radio Grahamstown volunteers were surprisingly buoyant thereafter, and were prepared to commit themselves to the process. 

The tree with elements which will inform the show vision
Because of this, we were able to continue with the first part of the workshop as planned, in which we  aimed to establish a shared editorial  vision for the  For this session, Annie and I co-ordinated an exercise in which we drew a tree, and in each part of the tree, different aspects of the radio show were to be included . The  roots represented the values and beliefs that would inform the radio show; the tree trunk stood for the most important of these  values and beliefs; the branches set out the various themes to be incorporated in the show; the leaves showed the  potential sources or references to be used in the show; and the fruit, the planned achievements and outcomes of the show.  In this exercise, Xoliswa and S.D played a leading part in generating input. The themes and ideas which were raised in our introductory workshop with Umthathi were reintroduced. I think that all these ideas linked well with the values of sustainability, improving the livelihood of communities, and sharing of knowledge, which is key to Umthathi's goals. In terms of assisting the Radio Grahamstown representatives in this assignement, Annie and I raised possible ideals from a radio station's point of view, inproducing a show such as the one we are planning. Clearly, this session turned out reasonably well, given the circumstances that we started from!

The second part of the workshop was supposed to zoom in on an aspect of skills development for the team - i.e. writing for radio.  We started this secion by going  through a Powerpoint presentation on writing stories for radio. Here it was the  Radio Grahamstown anchor and producer who played a greater role in providing input. At this stage of the workshop, they had gained more insight on the kind show they were getting involved in starting, and were therefore way more involved  in discussions. As part of this session, it was also  mentioned that Xoliswa would be a co-anchor of the radio show, and I was relieved to note that the Radio Grahamstown people were happy with that idea. Xoliswa  got on well with the Radio Grahamstown partners, something which contributed to the excitement of this project between the partners of this project!

At the end of the workshop, we had a brief feedback session, where concerns which the partners had were discussed . We also arranged times for the next two workshops, which will be held on Thursdays,  and we also began the process of thinking of a show name for the gardening/healthy living show.

This past week in the audio production partnership impressed on me the importance of  adaptability in this kind of work. Annie and I have had to adapt both of the workshops that we ran so far, yet we have still managed to conduct them with a fair degree of  success. I also noticed the growth Annie and I have been through so far, having been a part of this audio production partnership. We have facilitated all our workshops well and have been confident in our interactions with partners from Umthathi and Radio Grahamstown. My future interactions with these two institutions will give me further learning experience in this project. This is something I am still very excited about!

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