Spotlight on Earl Samuels, George Atkins Communications Award Winner, Fiila FM, Ghana
Earl Samuels has long had the desire to empower his people and provide access to information in hard times. This inspired him to pursue a career in broadcast journalism nearly 27 years ago.
Mr. Samuels has worked in television, radio, and the newspaper industry, covering everything from sports to politics to entertainment and social issues. But over the past 10 years, he has focused his efforts on a specific type of radio programming to serve communities in the Northern Region of Ghana: farm radio.
“When I travelled [as a journalist] I would see the impact of the farms and what they could do for people,” he says. “I realized that we need to be able to empower people in farming.”
So Mr. Samuels employed his skills as a seasoned journalist to start an agricultural radio program at Fiila FM in Tamale, where he worked as the morning show host for five years. He travelled to the field to visit farmers and gather material for the weekly program, which met with great success.
“At the end of the program, people will call you or they will come to the station looking for you because they want to have a tape so they can listen to it more,” says Mr. Samuels. “For me, that was where the joy came in because I knew people were listening and people were impacted by what I was doing—so it gave me that encouragement to do it more.”
Mr. Samuels participated in the first Broadcaster Resources workshop in Tamale where he met Benjamin Fiafor, the country director for Farm Radio’s Ghana office. Mr. Fiafor introduced him to FRI’s vast collection of resources to help produce agricultural radio programming. With this newfound knowledge and access to information, Mr. Samuels started farmer programs at four new stations in the Northern Region: Suhupieli FM, Radio Amana, Sunshine Radio, and Pupieli FM.
He hosts programs on Suhupieli FM (The Farmer’s Friend) and Fiila FM (A Time With The Farmer and Let’s Go To The Farm). Both programs cover farming issues related to climate change, land clearing, planting, harvesting, and applying fertilizer, among many other topics. Through these programs, Mr. Samuels also produced documentaries for two of Farm Radio’s projects in Ghana, interacting with rice, onion, and maize farmers to address the challenges they face in crop production.
Mr. Samuels is a highly motivated, multi-skilled, and enthusiastic broadcaster. He has contributed to a variety of development projects and has also worked at Joy FM and BBC Africa Production for Post Mark Africa.
He says Farm Radio’s vast collection of resources has helped him address the issue of acquiring material for his farmer programs.
He says: “Irrespective of the challenges, going into the farm and meeting farmers one-on-one and sharing ideas is really good for me. I don’t see the challenges; I see the advantages for me to work hard to get somebody to do the right thing.”
Despite these challenges, he knows the rewards are big, for himself and for farmers.
Mr. Samuels says he appreciates being recognized with the George Atkins Communication Award after so many years in the industry, and he looks forward to continuing this important work.
“It’s put more pressure on my shoulders to do good work and also to train other people to go into agricultural broadcasting,” he says. “Farm Radio has really done us good and I’ve learned a lot from Farm Radio.”