A pioneer in the development of radio in Ghana, Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby, has said although the medium has sustained the country’s current democratic dispensation for over two decades, there is more room for improvement.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show to mark World Radio Day, he said the over 300 radio stations dotted across the country have deepened the essential features of a democratic society – media plurality and expression of divergent views – but it has not satisfactorily held the government to account.
“I don’t think anybody can imagine Ghana now without a radio; the breadth of output – that is educating people, informing people…entertaining people – these are major, major achievements and if you do any study on how people are being informed, radio comes out as number one. That is a very, very serious achievement.
“But I don’t think there is enough of the advocacy; the holding government to account, of informing people about the development of the country, about human rights, all those things are very, very important.
“Don’t forget, we call the media the Fourth Estate of the Realm; the fourth is so that it can hold governments to account but I don’t think we are doing enough of that,” he told show host, Daniel Dadzie.
First independent radio station
The former Chief Executive Officer of Ghana’s Volta River Authority (VRA) established Ghana’s first independent radio station, Radio Eye in 1994.
Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby
But the station was taken off air by the John Rawlings military regime.
Although he took the matter to the High Court and the court ordered that seized Radio Eye equipment be released to Dr Wereko-Brobby, they remain confiscated – more than two decades later.
Dr Wereko-Brobby, an Engineer and currently the Chief Policy Analyst at the Ghana Institute of Public Policy Options (GIPPO), said he took the bold step to set up the radio station in the 1990s because his understanding of the 1992 Constitution was that every Ghanaian has been granted the freedom of expression, and hence establishing a radio station was one way of exercising this right.
“I was of the belief that you couldn’t talk about democracy without having divergent views coming from various platforms. Our experience of three republics have been that maybe there were competitive elections but as soon as elections were over, the government then turned itself into a monotonous monopoly of provider of information. I couldn’t see how that could square with democracy…,” he said on the Super Morning Show.
Dr Wereko-Brobby said his hypothesis that without multiple platforms democracy would not flourish has been proven right by the 25-year span of the current 4th Republic that has media plurality as a key feature.
“There is clearly more plurality, clearly more divergent views, people are being better educated about what is going on. But…I think it could have done more. In the words of one of my classmates, ‘A++ could do better,” he said.
World Radio Day
World Radio Day is celebrated globally on February 13 every year.
UNESCO has started celebrating World Radio Day to highlight this importance of radio. UNESCO first started celebrating Radio Day globally on February 13, 2012.
World Radio Day highlights the unique power of radio to connect lives and bring people together from across the globe.
Radio was introduced in Ghana by the British colonial government in the 1930s and was used as a propaganda tool to secure the loyalty and support of the colonies during World War Two.
During this period, radio became an important vehicle for providing information on the African soldiers fighting on the side of the allies.