Posted by: calloftheandes | August 15, 2011

Stepping Into a Studio From All Walks of Life

Talking about radio training, Allen Graham doesn’t just describe, he demonstrates. Graham encounters a persistent myth among seminar participants. He demonstrates by imitating a golden-throated, super-cool deejay. Newly arrived seminar trainees aspire to create such a persona, but he steers them to a different approach, a modern era of radio announcing. “Those days are gone,” he says of the hyped-up, top-40 format sound. “Unfortunately, they didn’t go fast enough!”

Allen Graham helps HCJB2 in Guayaquil with a Misión Compartida share-a-thon.

“Usually the best stations and the highest-rated stations … have [announcers] who are ‘normal’ … they talk the same way in front of the microphone as they do when they’re off mike,” he said. Speak as though talking with a friend, Graham instructs. After all, radio builds a bond between listener and announcer. A voice can become a trusted companion to many.

Graham, Larry Castro and Tim Dawson, along with other colleagues, conduct radio training and development throughout HCJB Global’s Latin America Region. Volunteers staff many of the partner stations, so training sessions often begin with fundamentals of announcing and putting together a radio show. Lectures only account for about 40 percent of the class time. Interaction, including group evaluations of exercises and projects, complements the instruction.

A mirror is sent back with each station’s trainee. It serves to remind fellow staff members of the question: Do the programs reflect their own interests? Or those of the listeners?

“The mirror should be turned facing the listeners so they hear the music they like and hear information that they need,” Graham explained. Listeners should find something useful to help them in daily life or in their spiritual walk. Dawson agreed, saying, “Christian radio too often decides for the listener what they need instead of just asking them and reflecting the listener’s life.”

Mirror the interests of your audience not your own favorite themes, Graham instructs.

Also, a “church” template superimposed over a station’s program schedule would carry Sunday preaching and midweek men’s or women’s meetings. “The problem is people don’t listen to the radio that way,” Graham said.

Flexibility is key as Graham works across a gamut that includes both experienced staff and raw new volunteers. Some have never stepped into a studio before.

Regarding the life skills that volunteers bring to the microphone, “I think they have a great advantage in helping us think more like a real person and about real needs,” Graham related. “If we think that the person who most listens to radio is the woman who’s between 25 and 45 years of age, then we can recognize what is her greatest concern—it’s her children.”

Allen took this photo of some of his students at Kuxonoty in Brazil.

This makes topics such as health and nutrition universally acceptable as radio topics in different cultures worldwide. In April 2010 Graham was invited by the mission’s Sub-Saharan Africa Region to train broadcasters in Ghana. He returned to the region in June 2011, this time to teach in Yekepa, Liberia at the African Bible College (ABC) University.

Some Ghanaian seminar trainees were from predominantly Muslim areas. “So they have to be very careful in terms of the words they use in their messages, that they are always opening doors and not going to close them,” Graham related. “That’s not necessarily something we face in Latin America.”

Successes are revealed by improved program quality, but also in subsequent instruction by seminar participants. “We would like to form a network of Latin Christian broadcasters who can share resources, share vision and encourage each other,” said Anabella Cabezas, director of the Media Division in the Latin America Region.

Recently at Radio Cultural Amigos in Chiquimula, Guatemala, Graham shared the teaching responsibilities with Erick Herrera of Radio HRVC and Stereo Luz in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Herrera had attended Graham’s training (assisted by Moody Radio) several years earlier.

“He was able to take the things that he learned in 2005, along with the things we’ve added since, and teach this year in Chiquimula,” Graham said. “He did a great job; he was well received by the people. That’s the idea—to have past students whom we can pick out as part of our training teams in the future.”

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