“Hotline” Gets a Warm Reception in Ghana

Feb 72011

Ghana’s leading English language radio station, JoyFM, held an official launch for a hard-hitting weekly show created by Knight International Journalism Fellow Sylvia Vollenhoven. Called “Hotline,” the program takes on issues such as poverty, education, health and agriculture in an exciting new format.

About 60 guests attended the gathering called “Harnessing the Media for Social Change,” including media leaders and advertisers. Hotline is distinct from all other radio shows in the country because it tackles important issues in documentaries similar to those airing on National Public Radio.

Another distinguishing feature is that listeners can ask questions, make comments and offer input through audience-interactive features including live phone-ins, texting and email. “The idea is to actively engage the audience in Ghana, “said Vollenhoven. The goal, she said, is “to publicly hold officials responsible for the decisions that affect the lives of everyday citizens.”

Vollenhoven spent much of last year preparing JoyFM journalists to produce lengthy features on social issues. The Hotline program also received such an outpouring of positive public response that JoyFM decided to officially launch it this year. “What we’re looking to do with Hotline is to affect lives, and change lives,” said Elvis Kwashie, managing editor of JoyFM.

At the reception, keynote speaker Professor Kwame Karikari of the Media Foundation for West Africa said radio has tremendous potential to effect social change, but most stations in Ghana have no such programming. “The only way people are going to develop is when they have information that is reliable and knowledge, that is credible and enlightening,” he said.

"Nothing will bring more joy to JoyFM than finding solutions to problems that are facing people in our communities,” said programs director Kwesi Ansah. “It is in this light that we have come together to harness resources to sort out developmental issues."