Sunday, May 15, 2011

Returning to service-learning principles

After the high of broadcasting the first edition of Masakhane, this week provided a vital wake-up call. The week served as an important reminder of a challenge my community partnership will have to overcome, to be assured of a prolonged success of the radio show.
From left: The Masakhane crew talking about the benefits of gardening

While the second broadcast of Masakhane was successful, there were some short-comings in the show itself, and in its preparation, that highlighted for me of the importance of returning to the service-learning principles which I have previously said would inform my community partnership. I interpret service-learning as institutions or individuals giving a service to and learning of a service offered by another institution or individual simultaneously. This is something we have done very well with Umthathi during the progression of the community partnership, but in the past two or so weeks, we have slacked off in this aspect with the Masakhane anchor/producer, Thenjiwe. After the original anchor of the show, Mary, went AWOL, we backed Thenjiwe when she spoke of her experience in being able to produce and anchor a single show. She has done a sterling job so far, where she has introduced the show themes and guided the show well, but I do think Annie and I need to sit down with her, and strengthen her idea of the direction in which the show is supposed to be heading.

I believe that the show should follow a strong structure, but so far it seems very fluid. This is something I see as possibly affecting Xoliswa negatively in the long-run. I say this because in the previous broadcast of Masakhane, Xoliswa did not engage as freely as she did in the first broadcast of the show. She acted more like a guest advocating for Umthathi, rather than an anchor facilitating a discussion on the “benefits of gardening”. This situation was due to the unstructured nature of the show which was facilitated by the anchor, hence possibly making Xoliswa confused about her role in the show, leading to her being silenced somewhat. While Thenjiwe has done well in easing the facilitators and Xoliswa into the live show environment, and has also taught Annie and me valuable approaches to a live show recording, I do believe we need to reiterate to her the importance of structure, of using the basic show running order template we all designed to good effect. This will no doubt do wonders in the long-run, as we have previously said to her and the Umthathi partners that a radio show running order provides the basis of a show structure.
Once again there were problems regarding setting up the telephone system at the Radio Grahamstown studio for the show. I have raised the idea that Annie and I create an advert to be played in Radio Grahamstown. In this advert we would inform Radio Grahamstown listeners to call or sms a number which will be controlled by Thenjiwe, or call Umthathi, should they have any questions and opinions of Masakhane. In this process during the show, we would not have a segment in which listeners call in during the show and interact with the show anchors and guests. Instead, all the observations and questions raised by listeners of the show who call Thenjiwe or Umthathi outside the live show will be brought to the show and be discussed there. This is an idea that was motivated by thoughts of ensuring that Masakhane really does have a listenership, and build the show from here.

When one reads this blog post, I’m sure they would think that the latest Masakhane show was not good. Actually it was a good show, and the facilitators were again very informative as show guests. My thoughts of the show were that it can be improved even more, and be more structured. I believe Masakhane has the potential to play a positive role in community building, through the discussions and tips that are given in the show. We just need to set the bar higher, to make sure all the members of Masakhane are on the same page, in terms of making a success of such a great concept for a show.

No comments:

Post a Comment