By: Bernard Koku Avle, Host of CITI FM Breakfast Show.
In the past few months, a strong media campaign against Galamsey has been waged. We speak to Bernard Avle of Citi FM whose station is at the forefront of the campaign.
Ghana Business & Finance (GB&F): You and Citi FM took up a Stop galamsey Now campaign. What informed that?
Bernard Avle (BA): Because the menace of illegal mining has gotten to a point where, if not stopped, will lead to irrecoverable damage to our environment forever. People are using heavy-duty excavators to mine for gold on farmlands, others are using machines to prospect for alluvial gold, polluting our waterbodies in the process. This has to cease immediately. That is why we began this campaign.
GB&F: How has the Stop galamsey Now campaign gone so far?
BA: We started with a series of on-air awareness creation campaigns. Our
reporters around the country filed stories and produced radio features on the nature and effects of the activity of illegal miners on our lands and waterbodies. We followed this up with interviews with duty bearers like Government officials, Traditional leaders and Security agencies. We then escalated the campaign to the streets of Accra, Takoradi, Sunyani and Koforidua, distributing leaflets and T-shirts educating people on the damage Galamsey is wreaking on our country. Our next move was to go into parliament to petition the house to join the crusade against the activities of galamseyers. We have also collaborated with other media houses to raise awareness through the #StopGalamseyNow campaign and the #Red Friday campaign.
GB&F: Do you feel vindicated by the Chief Justice setting up 14 courts to try illegal mining offences?
BA: We feel encouraged that the Chief Justice has moved decisively to dedicate these courts to dealing with mining offences. We believe it sends that right signals about the commitment of the state to tackle the problem head-on.
GB&F: What next for the Stop galamsey Now campaign?
BA: The educational campaign goes on because not everyone has heard or understands the dangers posed by this menace on our collective future. Some people feel that we can’t stop Galamsey until people involved have been given an alternative livelihood. This is only partially accurate. The destruction must stop immediately, after which, if there is a program to support or absorb the people sustainably, that can happen. The government has been speaking about an integrated multilateral mining program, as a long-term response to the Galamsey menace. We believe that this is in the right direction. However, before the full implementation of that project, all forms of illegal mining must stop.
GB&F: Who is Bernard Avle?
BA: I am a broadcast journalist by training and passion. I have been involved in radio since the year 2000 from my university days at University of Ghana, Legon. I am married and have three sons. I believe the media in general and radio in particular are powerful tools that, if used effectively, can bring about positive social transformation.
GB&F: You studied Economics at Legon, how did you end up working on radio and at Citi FM?
BA: My entry into radio world appear to be by pure accident. I was invited to take part in a radio debate on a show on ‘Radio Universe’ at the University of Ghana. I lost the debate but ended up being invited to be trained as a student broadcaster. It started out as a hobby but, soon after that, I got hooked and decided that being a radio broadcaster was what I wanted to do. I left university and joined the nascent Citi FM as a national service person. I have been at the station since its inception in 2004.
GB&F: Citi FM is known for its strong pro-business outlook. Why is that so?
BA: Yes, our entry strategy after our gap analysis, showed that the business news segment was not very being well served by existing players in the radio market. We, therefore, set up a strong business news team to approach coverage from an analytical point of view. We have largely been successful with this approach as the business community embraced us.
GB&F: What are some of the joys of being the host of one of the best breakfast shows?
BA: Radio is a powerful platform for social change, and breakfast shows typically drive conversations on Ghanaian radio stations. As host of a morning show, one gets the chance to set the agenda for the day, by the choice of topics issues they highlight. It’s a very influential platform which can be used as a force for good.
GB&F: What does the future hold for Citi FM?
BA: Citi 97.3 FM will deepen its leadership in the English-language segment of Ghanaian radio, and also mentor other regional stations to replicate our excellence across the country. We will also launch into television in the near future to give viewing audiences greater variety and relevant context.