Evelyn Balozi was first inspired to become a broadcaster by her grandfather, who was fond of watching the news on TV. He told his granddaughter to follow the news closely and encouraged her to imagine herself as a broadcaster. Now Evelyn has been living her dream as a radio broadcaster for 14 years. She has served in many roles, including producer, presenter, acting station manager and marketing officer at Utume FM in Tanzania.
Evelyn is passionate about involving listeners in her programs. When she started broadcasting, she noticed that many broadcasters are based in cities, and it’s difficult for them to give rural listeners the chance to speak and be heard. This is why she gives listeners a chance to share their knowledge and perspectives on air and respects farmers’ knowledge as equal to other experts.
“This award is the first for me in this broadcasting work. It is an award that will remain as a symbol for me and remind me that in honour of the founder of Farm Radio International, George Atkins, I should always be a stimulus of food security and reducing poverty in families and rural communities.”Evelyn Balozi, winner, 2023 George Atkins Communication Award
Evelyn is currently working on an agroecological program that discusses step-by-step processes to prepare land, create inputs, and plant, harvest and store crops in ecologically-friendly ways. It also covers adding value and marketing. To create the program, Evelyn interviews farmers throughout her district.
She designs each program to give farmers the opportunity to talk about their challenges through call-ins, in-studio interviews, written messages to the station or vox pops. Then she asks extension officers to respond to these issues live on air.
Evelyn recorded one episode in a village with local farmers and an extension officer who seldom visited. During the recording of the episode, the farmers forged a connection with the extension officer, taking advantage of his visit to deal with challenges outside the scope of the episode.
Evelyn also serves her audience by reporting farmers’ concerns to the local council of agriculture and livestock department so their concerns get attention from local government.
Listeners say they like hearing about other farmers’ experiences and listening to experts who respond to their questions. They also enjoy the songs, poems and plays that Evelyn incorporates into the show.
Evelyn credits FRI for these aspects of her program. She regularly learns from FRI through face-to-face training, as well as Barza Wire, online learning modules and her regional WhatsApp group. She says these channels have helped her learn how to conduct productive interviews, consider gender equality in her program, improve the program’s sound quality and encourage listeners to think about positive masculinity.
This story was originally published in Barza Wire, Farm Radio International’s newswire for African farm broadcasters. The George Atkins Communication Award recognizes a radio broadcaster who serves their rural audience and is a committed partner of Farm Radio International.