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Radio journalists suffer in silence as employers rake millions

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[A digital banner created by JN Radio meant to celebrate the World Radio Day on February, 13, 2022. Photo/ Courtesy/JN Radio].

Radio journalists in the country marked the World Radio Day on Sunday in a loud silence following the current working conditions in most of the radio stations countrywide.

Most of the radio station owners in the country have failed to consider the welfare of journalists working in their stations, making the February, 13, annual celebrations almost useless to the hardworking radio kings and queens.

Some journalists may entertain, inform and educate you on air however outside the studios, they are gnashing their teeth.

This is evident since some of the radio stations in Kenya cannot pay journalists as per the required labour laws and some News reporters, Radio presenters and producers have been been volunteering for years.

The Coast region for example has over 20 radio stations, contributing to the over 100 radio stations countrywide.

At least every county in all the 47 counties nationwide has a radio or radio station, be it commercial, community or vernacular, most of them owned by politicians.

This is very commendable since it translates to an informed society which has a platform not only for getting reliable information, education and or entertainment but where the community can be involved and engaged in raising their voices to the concerned parties, authorities or the government in crusading for their demands to be honoured.

But does it hit someone’s head that most radio journalists are struggling to make ends meet?

Some of this mostly valued radio stations rely on students who flock them for attachment opportunities, some become permanent volunteers to an extent that they drop the career without taking home a single penny.

Most Radio journalists suffer in silence and though they would not say it in public, and unless something is done and done so quick and fast, radio journalism is heading nowhere.

To some extent that a section of politicians and other news sources ignore Radio journalists and only value those working for TV.

When the Covid-19 struck the country back in March, 12, 2020, radio journalists suffered the most as they took pay cut, and some were relieved of their duties being assured by their employers that they will be re-absorbed when the Covid-19 wrath reduces only to be left in the cold to-date.

The plights of journalists was once confirmed in a study by Human rights lobby Haki Africa and the article was published in the Star Newspaper on February, 20, 2021.

In his article entitled ‘Journalists suffer in silence as Bosses rake millions’ Haki Africa Executive Director Hussein Khalid raises tough questions on journalism career and the gross violation of labour laws that has forced many journalists to ditch the career.

[Haki Africa Executive Director Hussein Khalid. Photo/Courtesy]
Mr Khalid accused media owners for ignoring the plights of journalists working in their stations.

“Journalists have been fighting for other people’s rights but they suffer in the hands of their less caring employers the relevant quarters including the Media Council of Kenya, (MCK), The Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) among other concerned parties should intervene,” Mr Khalid fearlessly puts it in black and white.

The situation never changed and radio journalists have nothing to celebrate today, despite the huge day meant to reflect the major contributions of radio to the larger society.

However drastic it could be,  the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) seems to be moving to the right direction for vowing to shut down media houses which fail to comply with the requirements including filing returns.

CA Chairperson Ezra Chiloba, seems to set his best foot forward “that a radio station or any other media house that flouts the provisions of the government including failing to meet the KRA, MCK, CA requirements and pay its staff as per the labour laws has no business remaining operational but it’s license revoked”

[The writer is a Coast based media practitioner]