STAR Radio Blends Urban-Rural Dialogue in Liberia

 
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Jul 29, 2008

STAR Radio Named Best Station in Liberia!

Congratulations to Vivian Gartayn, Winner of the Best Newscaster
Congratulations to Vivian Gartayn, Winner of the Best Newscaster

The Press Union of Liberia has named Star Radio in Liberia as Radio Station of the Year for 2007/2008.

Star Radio was selected by a panel of eminent individuals headed by Ms Meg Riggs, head of the Public Diplomacy Section at the United States Embassy in Monrovia.

Two journalists from Star Radio were also awarded for their outstanding professionalism.

The Press Union of Liberia named Vivian Gartayn Best Newscaster and Bruce Boweh Best Judicial Reporter of the year.

The award ceremony was held at the Golden Beach Restaurant in Sinkor.

STAR radio is a non-profit independent news and information radio station broadcasting nation-wide in Liberia and also in the sub-region via FM, shortwave, affiliate community radio stations, and the internet.

STAR radio (FM 104, SW 9525, website: www.starradio.org.lr) is a public access radio in Liberia providing national coverage on a reliable basis on FM and SW. It serves as a “private” public broadcaster given the significant support it provides to civil society and reconstruction efforts. STAR radio is a unique mix of a not-for-profit public service radio that pursues fee-for-service activities to generate income to cover its expenses.

STAR radio offers programs on current affairs and news, broadcasts 14.5 hours a day (down from 17 hours a day) in 14 Liberian languages as well as French, English and Liberian English, and offers a website with audio one-touch streaming which is highly appreciated by the Liberian Diaspora (3,500 members / 11,000 visits per month).

In 2007 STAR continued to build its reputation for top-notch reporting, but the year was marked by severe shortfalls in donor support. In response, the station undertook several cost-cutting measures and prioritized finding new ways to increase income. Above all, STAR concentrated on building its journalist training and capacity-building services in the region and now STAR radio is widely regarded throughout West Africa for its broadcast training expertise.

STAR has it all: quality, credibility, and most importantly, image. It has a brand name recognized and revered throughout Liberia because of its unique history in the country and the independence of its program content.

STAR radio allows Liberians to hear other citizens talk about issues that matter to them, the same issues that they talk about with their families and friends. This gives STAR significant meaning and relevance in this small country in West Africa that has recently emerged from over a decade of war which destroyed the country's infrastructure, and killed, maimed, and displaced hundreds of thousands of its citizens.

STAR radio provides high-quality news and information on a daily basis to all Liberians. Its shows “I Beg to Differ” and “Women’s Hour” were among its most popular programs. “STAR Contact” continued to be effective in reuniting families. The national news on the hour attracted more advertisers than available timeslots. STAR radio’s main challenges in 2007, its second full year on-air, were to continue cutting costs, further develop its advertising base, expand income earning services, and find new sources of donor support.

STAR's key achievements for the Press Union of Liberia's award were as follows:

• STAR radio continued to be the primary sources of reliable, balanced and impartial news and information throughout Liberia, serving all Liberians, other media, and the diaspora. • The station provided a national public service medium for citizens to express their views and for residents to restore contact with missing relatives. • Training sessions for journalists from West Africa provided "hands-on experience and focused on journalism and ethical reporting as well as technical aspects of broadcasting. STAR is now considered the reference training center for journalists in the area and these training activities brought much needed income to the station. • STAR advertising staff received training in sales and marketing as well as advertising spot design. • Several STAR staff won international recognition: Wellington Geevon-Smith, News Editor, was chosen as an Edward R. Murrow Fellow by the U.S. State Department and Joseph Cheeseman, Editor-in-Chief, was selected by the BBC Trust to cover the Charles Taylor trial in the Hague. The People’s Republic of China invited STAR Station Manager James K. Morlu to attend a conference of foreign press in Beijing in May. Two other journalists were selected for an American university exchange program. Jeff Tarnue, a STAR producer and announcer who is visually impaired, was the recipient of free software from Freedom Scientific based in Florida, USA. The software, JAWS, assists him in his computer work for his weekly program for the handicapped titled “We Too Have A Voice.” • A fundraising initiative and the intensive search of new sources of support to STAR resulted in many new contacts for STAR radio.

STAR radio in 2007 had a “luxuriating effect,” allowing ordinary citizens to understand and participate in political life. When democracy flourishes, people are empowered and this has significant implications for peace, security, and reconstruction. STAR radio journalists give ordinary people the opportunity to voice their opinions in public forums, political debates, and interviews, offering the Liberian public a dialogue that is directly relevant to their lives.

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Project Leader

Caroline Vuillemin

Lausanne, Vaud Switzerland

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