Reports reaching The Herald indicate that Herbert Mensah’s radio station, X fm 95.1, is going through turbulent times. At the heart of what could best be described as Tsunami, is irregular flow of salaries, and this has forced eight workers to flee.
Fine broadcast journalists and presenters poached from prominent media houses, including Joy FM, Radio Gold, Metro TV and others, to help launch the station into the forefront of radio broadcast journalism in the country, are said to be leaving the station which is barely two years old.
Reasons for the journalists’ and the presenters’ departure from the station are being pinned down to undue interference from Mr. Mensah in their work, non-payment of salaries and long delays in payment, if done at all. “We as professionals are not being given the free hand to work as is required,” said a journalist who wants to remain anonymous for now.
According to him, “we are not paid and, even if the payment is done at all, it takes too long in coming”.
He cited a presenter, Jon Germain, who left the station out of frustration for not being paid for months, and is having problems collecting his money due him for the services he had rendered.
Others who are reported to have left in frustration are Kwame Faakye, Kweku Misa, Robert Israel and Emefa Apawu, formerly of Radio Gold FM. She was the host of the station’s morning show called “Big Byte”.
Ace actor Chris Attoh who had also been presenting entertainment programmes on the station, is said to have also parked bag and baggage, and said adieu to the station, out of frustration.
The station’s accountant and its website designer, who joined the station at its inception, are said to have also joined the exodus bandwagon.
The Herald has also gathered that another presenter, Ransford Amon-Pabi, is on his way out. He is said to have failed to turn up for work since Wednesday, June 1, 2011. Mr. Amon-Perbi was also the producer of the “Big Byte” programme. He was poached from Joy FM.
Reports say the Mr. Mensah had been breathing down the necks of his staff, always trying to dictate to them as to what to do in the course of their work, leading to verbal exchanges between him and the workers, sometimes. The problem, The Herald gathered, stems from the fact that Mr. Mensah has not defined the mission and vision of the station.
Readers will recall that there were reports in the media that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, led by Mr. J. A. Kufuor, seized the radio equipment of X FM, rendering it inoperable during the tenure of that government (NPP). It was the government of President Atta Mills that restored the equipment to Mr. Mensah for the station to go into operation.
An observer of the media landscape told The Herald that he was surprised that given Mr. Mensah’s business acumen and his long period of association with the media, he would not dare try to dictate to journalists about how they should go about their work.
Mr. Mensah’s business operations in and outside Ghana have been impressive. He is the son of Kumasi-based Mr. B. A. Mensah of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) fame.
He introduced into Ghana, the South African Multichoice Company, and held the franchise in Ghana for Nokia – the international cell phone producers.
Mr. Mensah once headed the Asante Kotoko Football Club and another rival football club in Kumasi.
His stint with Kotoko ended on a bad note, with him complaining that the club owed him hundreds of thousands of Ghana cedis that he had invested in a club which hardly won any laurel during his tenure because, as he put it, “Kotoko is Rebuilding.”
Mr. Mensah was also made board member of Ghana Telecom in the early days of the Kufuor government.
Meanwhile, Mr. Edwin Addo who introduced himself to The Herald as the Managing Director of the station and the one who runs operations as well at the station, said nobody had left the station in frustration.
According to him, the station is “youth-focused” and engages journalists and presenters on one-year contract basis after which the programmes are reviewed, maintained if necessary, or discarded for a new one.
He told The Herald that in the case of Chris Attoh, he had a contract with a movie company outside Ghana, and was most often unavailable to hold live shows, and since the programme required listener interaction, they thought it was not profitable retaining him.
He said he was not aware of Emefa Apawu’s departure from the station; he maintained that all those who have had anything to do with the station and had left, did so because their contracts had expired.
In the case of salaries not being paid on time, the MD said that, that was no news, and that not all companies in Ghana paid their workers regularly, noting that some companies run into salary arrears for about a fortnight and even a month.
On the issue of the accountant’s departure, the MD said, he did not leave out of frustration, but as an accounts clerk he had gone for further studies.
He affirmed that the company is a limited liability company and, therefore, its managers reserved the right to hire and fire workers at anytime.