Spotlight on Joshua Kakooza, Liberty FM, Uganda

| August 17, 2015

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Joshua Kakooza’s father died the day his son took his primary school-leaving exams. But now Mr. Kakooza has one of the best-known voices in western Uganda.

Mr. Kakooza’s mother did her best to provide for his needs from her meagre earnings as a tailor in Hoima, a town in western Uganda.

Mr. Kakooza studied to become a primary school teacher, and joined a musical dance and drama group to earn some money to forge his own path in life. It was while performing in this group that he was spotted by his current boss, who identified his potential as an entertainer and broadcaster.

After working for a couple of years, Mr. Kakooza signed up for a two-year, part-time course in journalism at the Kitara Institute of Commerce, Media and Vocational Studies in Hoima. The 30-year old has worked as a journalist for the past eight years.

Mr. Kakooza is an assistant production manager at Liberty FM and at Bunyoro Television. Based in Hoima, Liberty FM broadcasts to western Uganda and can also be received in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Just after he joined Liberty FM, the station’s production manager quit. Mr. Kakooza had been an announcer and a field journalist, but his boss asked him to pick up the production manager’s duties, with responsibility for farmer programs.

Mr. Kakooza developed his farmer program by adopting the style in which local news was presented in the local newspapers. His station manager welcomed the idea of a magazine-style program, and Mr. Kakooza’s program has been on the air for five years.

Audience participation is very important to Mr. Kakooza. Farmers send texts and leave voice messages, and Mr. Kakooza welcomes live phone calls. He also airs recordings of farmers in their fields. He says: “We have 800 listening clubs; we carry out outdoor activities that enhance high listenership and also host an annual event that gathers together as many listeners as possible outside for live fun and games.”

Liberty FM broadcasts Farm Radio International’s serial drama, My Children, which “edutains” its audience with drama while providing accurate information about growing and eating orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. It also broadcasts a program about growing cocoa in association with local agricultural company, ESCO Uganda Ltd. The farmer program works with the Hoima District Farmers’ Association to train farmers on various farming activities.

Photo: From the left, extension worker Andrew, farmer and OFSP vine multiplier Dinah,  broadcaster Joseph Kakooza, and scriptwriter Tony Mushoborozi, all standing in the farmer’s orange-fleshed sweet potato field.