Ghana Speaks (V): The Radio Voices of Cape Coast

Click to listen to Chris’s conversation with Mike Serwornoo (15 min, 9 mb mp3)

An underlying question through this experimental week in Ghana is: what more would it take to podcast conversations as direct as these from India, or Israel, or the West Bank? Or China, or Congo, for that matter?

Mike Serwornoo, in our exchange here about radio in Ghana, strikes me as the sort of modern practitioner I’d want to engage with almost anywhere to enlist the Web’s boundary-jumping tools in service of “that fabulous instrument,” as Studs Terkel used to call it, the human voice.

Mike Serwornoo is the ambitious young general manager of ATL-FM, the multi-purpose radio voice of the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. It’s one of the scores of community radio stations working like democratic yeast for a decade now in West Africa generally, not Ghana especially. Mike’s boast to me is that popular trust in radio is now so powerful that the rule in a street emergency is “don’t call the police, call the radio station.”

ATL-FM carries news, talk, music and the Voice of America. In the local politics of Cape Coast, my impression is that ATL-FM vents the views more of the mainstay fishermen (for public pensions, for example) than of college students and teachers. We’re talking — Mike Serwornoo and I — about ways to combine some flavors of their gab with some of ours.

One thing most of us in Ghana don’t want is Euro-centric or American-centric solutions to Afro-centric problems. We don’t want a solution brewed in the United States. We want solutions brewed in Ghana, in Africa, with the guidance of someone who has been through our experience… The dream here is that the great things we do in Ghana can get to the people in the diaspora… that we converse with the world at large, without boundary, without color.

Mike Serwornoo with Chris Lydon, at ATL-FM in Cape Coast, Ghana, January 27, 2010.

Sounds astonishingly like my dream, too.

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