Olwyn Parkinson | November 7, 2021
Gideon Kwame Sarkodie Osei won the George Atkins Communications award in 2016, and has since reflected on how much winning the award has changed his life and career.
Farm Radio’s George Atkins Communications Award is given each year to selected radio broadcasters in Farm Radio’s network who demonstrate a commitment to serving small-scale farmers.
Mr. Osei says he still finds the most important part of his job is the interviews with farmers in rural communities, because this is how to see the challenges farmers face in agriculture, and in their day-to-day lives.
Mr. Osei is based in Kintampo in central Ghana, and has been broadcasting on the radio for the past 12 years. His program, Akuafo MO, which means “Thank you farmers,” airs on ADARS 107.7 FM, where he is the news editor and producer of various farmer radio programs.
He started becoming involved in radio broadcasting after finishing high school in Accra, the capital of Ghana, where he assisted in various radio productions. While working in the capital, Mr. Osei saw the gap between city radio broadcasting and radio in rural communities. Having grown up in a rural setting, he saw how rural stations were focused on local issues, whereas city stations paid more attention to political issues and national events. Mr. Osei wanted to apply the skills and experience he’d gained working in the capital to rural broadcasting—he felt that the limited coverage of issues in rural communities meant that important information was not being widely shared.
He says “radio is a kind of service to the people,” which is what motivated him to become a radio broadcaster. His dream was to see how his own potential could make a change in rural societies. It is this perspective that Mr. Osei carried with him to rural broadcasting, and which led to him winning the George Atkins Award in 2016.
Prior to applying for the award, Mr. Osei worked on spreading awareness about water accessibility in rural communities in Ghana and tried to get the attention of local governments and officials with his radio program. In his interviews with rural farmers about agriculture and farming practices, he was also able to “look at the other side of their life and challenges they face.” In advocating for these communities to have better access to water, Mr. Osei realized that helping address community issues was one of the criteria for the George Atkins Award. So he decided to apply.
When the 2016 winners were announced, Mr. Osei was overjoyed, having not expected to win the award. He says that after winning, “I took a deep look into myself and realized that it meant that I had done enough to serve the rural people.” Winning the award only inspired him to continue to advocate for more communities and spread even more information.
He says, “It was a life changing experience to win the award.”
After winning the award, Mr. Osei experienced a significant amount of development in himself as a radio broadcaster, as well as his radio station. He found that the practices and manner in which programs were produced was largely standardized and that the professionalism and effectiveness of broadcasts increased. He adds that, because of his relationship with Farm Radio and the “ongoing training and workshops that Farm Radio provides, I am a completely different journalist and professional broadcaster.”
Mr. Osei notes that his skills in video and audio editing, and on how to interview people effectively and professionally, completely changed for the better. Before winning the award, Mr. Osei worked as a broadcaster-trainer for Farm Radio, and continued this after winning. After winning, however, he felt that the professional standard and respect for his teaching had increased.
When asked what advice he would give a George Atkins award hopeful, Mr. Osei said the individual must be a very hard worker, and be committed and dedicated to broadcasting in rural communities. He said the applicant must also dedicate their life to improving the lives of the people and farmers in rural areas. He says that, to further your capabilities as a broadcaster, you can always fall back on Farm Radio Resources and online learning modules.
He adds, “You need to have someone whose work has impacted communities for the better” as the winner of the George Atkins Communications award.
Photo: Gideon Kwame Sarkodie Osei in studio. Photo courtesy of ADARS 107.7 FM.