It was a desire to empower his people and provide access to information in hard times that inspired Earl Samuels to pursue a career in broadcast journalism nearly 27 years ago. He 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, Earl has focussed his efforts on a different type of radio programming to serve communities in the Northern Region of Ghana.
“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 Earl 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 would travel to the field to visit farmers and gather material for the weekly program, which was 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 Earl. “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.”
Earl participated in the first Broadcaster Resources workshop in Tamale where he met Benjamin Fiafor, the country director for Farm Radio’s Ghana office. Benjamin introduced him to Farm Radio’s vast collection of resources to help with the production of agricultural radio programming. With this newfound knowledge and access to information, Earl started farmer programs at four new stations in the Northern Region: Suhupieli FM, Radio Amana, Sunshine Radio and Pupieli FM.
The programs he hosts at Suhupieli FM (The Farmer’s Friend) and Fiila FM (A Time With The Farmer and Let’s Go To The Farm) cover farming issues related to climate change, land clearing, planting, harvesting and applying fertilizer among many others. Through these programs, Earl also produced documentaries for Farm Radio’s GCAP and MADE projects in Ghana where he interacted with rice, onion and maize farmers to address the challenges they faced in crop production.
Earl is a highly motivated, multi-skilled and enthusiastic broadcaster. He has contributed to projects for Technonet Ghana and OSTEC-IT and he 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 challenge of acquiring material for his farmer programs. He adds that the challenge is what drives him to continue this important work.
“Irrespective of the challenges, going into the farm and meeting farmers one and 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.”
Earl says he appreciates being recognized with the George Atkins Communication Award after so many years in the industry but 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.”
Farm Radio International presents the annual George Atkins Communications Awards to radio broadcasters who excel in providing programs to help small-scale farmers feed their families and increase their incomes. The award is named after the late Dr. George Atkins, founder of Farm Radio International.