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Opinions Tue, 26 Feb 2013

New Joy @ Dawn

Never believe Joy FM’s Kojo Oppong Nkrumah if he says he dresses well only when he is broke!

Ensconced in the relatively blind comfort of radio and free from the glare of cameras, the host of the award winning Super Morning Show (SMS) has all but succeeded in hood winking listeners! After more than a week of pretending to cohost the show with Araba, Nana, Edgar and Bright, I can tell; lack of sartorial elegance or its antecedent poverty, are both nonstarters!

But that is not the only reflection I have of this new interactive panel format, designed to give the SMS a lift and the show’s listenership a more direct voice in the studio. The opportunity, as it were, is to reflect on key national issues through unique personal and professional perspectives - to talk, not so much partisan politics, but to place the Ghana agenda front and center of each morning’s breakfast. Each morning is now a heady mix of professionals, technocrats, politicians and some public servants, as keen to make excuses for politicians as they are for politicians to take the fall for their own ineffectiveness! In some cases, some managers of departments and agencies have been caught badly napping. It is about the political leadership! It is also about the small unit you manage. If both sides work well, Ghana will excel.

Typically, the morning show team is both small and young. Fired by talent and passion, they run wicked hours with producer in chief, Kofi Ansah, mild mannered, yet effective, never batting an eyelid! Big brother is watching …and running things. This long suffering Kofi is ably assisted by the reflective Sedem Ofori and the unflappable John Appiah. Of course, not to be forgotten is Bernard Nasara, whose rich baritone might just be the harbinger of low sperm count if last week’s spurious publication is to be believed. At least, these were the major culprits when we met that Sunday to discuss design of the new format.

That Sunday also sparked excitement and started a bond of friendship among the “All Star” Panel; Araba, policy analyst with the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Bright Simmons, Entrepreneur, volunteering time with policy think tank Imani, Nana Ansah, a forward-looking traditional ruler of Adusa in the Eastern region, Edgar Wiredu, an insurance expert and yours truly, a medic and writer. To the unsuspecting eye, this is simply an accidental motley collection of fine brains. As it turns out, the Joy machine is more sinister or perhaps simply devious and creative.

Destiny has presumably assigned this panel four roles. In other words, Joy is hoping to achieve a perfect blend of natural roles with contrived drama and perhaps, some little creative conflict along the way. By choosing individuals with presumably fundamental differences in their outlook to life, Joy has perhaps designed for the ultimate confrontation. And without identifying who is expected to fulfill which role, there is room for the following; the perpetual skeptic described as intelligent, suspicious of the system and of politicians, the libertarian who believes that market conditions and personal freedoms undergird all social interactions, the pro social whose strong social inclinations makes him believe that the primary essence of governance is service to the people through effective policies and programmes and finally

the realist who keeps an open mind as a cool head professional who synthesizes the far end points of the pro left and pro right, into simple, clear, easily digestible language.

So there you have it. Where do you as a listener also belong?

Reflecting on the new Super Morning Show, the new so called “All Star” panel threw in interesting enthusiastic perspectives. Will individual panel members have the courage of their own convictions and not simply allow their views to morph into an unnatural consensus? Disagreements, respectfully expressed, should be welcome. Will panelists become victims of ideology, expressing not their honest robust opinions, but what their assigned ideological positions, rightly or wrongly, are expected to spew? That would be a sure killer. How would Joy know whether this change was leading to improvement or not? A rigorous monitoring plan which combines data on real listenership with qualitative reviews from an existing evaluation team was already in place.

After over a week of implementation, what are my other reflections?

First of all, I really like my co panelists; I like Araba’s ability to connect to what matters by reflecting on practical concerns. I like Nana’s humaneness and the personal touch he brings to national concerns, I like Edgar’s “I don’t really know what you’re talking about because…” and I like Bright’s sharp ability to categorize the issues into bigger concepts.

Whether discussing new Minister of Information’s double speak on the President’s friendship with gay activist Andrew Solomon and the wider issue of government communications, be it the Presidential relocation to the Flag Staff House or taking some traditionalists to task for daring to prevent the appointment of a competent Minister of Chieftaincy Affairs on account of his visual impairment, or alternately celebrating and mourning with the Black Stars in AfCon 2013 in South Africa, whether it is in going on an emotional roller coaster with the documentary “Deformed” in which Seth Kwame Boateng brought tears into the studio with a chilling account of parents killing their own babies because of our collective intolerance for difference, we have truly had a great time. “Deformed” also stimulated an avalanche of on-air donations and with that, hope for a set of Siamese twins.

From the comfort of home, the Super Morning Show appears far more complicated than life in the very unassuming studio. At home there are the many parts coming together in apparently flawless timing to make the whole. In studio, it is just our parts we see. And it is far from flawless. Kojo and his team very much go with the flow. They prepare rigorously no doubt, but if there are burning issues on electricity and there is momentum with all sides to the debate being reflected in the phone ins, business news may delay! The momentum will not be lost! It is intense, it is dynamic and no day is ever the same!

Through the rather comprehensive background preparation that occurs, each day is as much a sharing experience as it is a learning experience for panelists. And through it all, we aspire to inspire the nation with possibility and not leave listeners overwhelmed by our common challenges. There is always something that you can do about the situation.

Pause must I. It is 650am. Nathaniel Attoh is tackling sports with passion. Stimulating koose and koko gladly beckon in the adjoining room! Anything less than Kofi Ansah’s revered handiwork, and the dawn encounter loses its charm! Not even Nana will compromise on this!

Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey

www.sodzisodzi.com

Sodzi_tettey@hotmail.com

20th February, 2013

Columnist: Sodzi-Tettey, Sodzi