Paddy Roberts | July 20, 2015
Birhanu Kindu has worked as a radio journalist since 2012 at the Amhara Mass Media Agency and, more particularly, Amhara Radio and FM Bahir Dar. He broadcasts in Amharic to more than 10 million listeners from Bahir Dar, 300 kilometres northeast of the capital city, Addis Ababa.
Mr. Birhanu has produced radio programs on several issues, including agriculture and health, as well as entertainment. He has a Diploma in Language from St. Mary’s University College, Addis Ababa, and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Social Anthropology from Alkan University College, Bahir Dar. Over the past few years, he has participated in trainings delivered by Farm Radio International and other organizations.
Mr. Birhanu does not have a farming background. It was only after Farm Radio International’s training workshops and courses that he realized the importance of farming since farmers make up 85 per cent of his broadcasting audience.
During the course of his career, he has received several awards from different organizations, including a certificate after participating in last year’s FRI Farmer program e-course. He says, “During the e-course I learned about ‘Knowing the audience,’ why gender is important, and the importance of storytelling in a program, among other issues.”
Mr. Bihanu has produced several farmers’ programs, particularly after both the radio stations he works for became FRI broadcasting partners. From this association, he learned how to run Participatory Radio Campaigns, or PRCs, on wheat and teff.
While working on the PRCs, Mr. Birhanu noticed an increase both in listenership and level of audience participation in programs. Farmers started phoning in to the station more often. In fact, farmers’ voices in discussions and interviews fill more than 60 per cent of the programs’ airtime.
On top of live studio discussions, Mr. Birhanu and his team travel to the field and gather farmers’ feedback. He says: “Once, when I was in the field, a farmer-listener told me his experience: ‘Before we used modern farming methods, our life was not good. But after we listened to your farmers’ radio program, our lives changed. Now we use modern farming technologies [such as row planting and targeted fertilizer use] from the beginning to the end … our products are more profitable, we get a good income.’”
Mr. Birhanu says, “I try to emulate and follow Farm Radio International teachings in my programs.”