What does Celebrating World Radio Mean to you?
Celebrating World Radio Day to me is recognising the essential and pivotal role this friendly medium play in informing, educating and entertaining unreached areas and communities with the information over a century. Without the radio medium, many people would have been cut off from present day realities.
Tell us about your radio journey.
I am a radio journalist with over 6 years experience and a strong interest in “Solutions Journalism” and health communication. I began my journalism career in 2014 while an undergraduate, as a volunteer reporter in a community radio station, UNIZIK 94.1FM , where I later served as News Anchor and Editor.
In 2016, I headed a 15-person team of volunteers at the radio station, reporting, composing and compiling news reports, commentaries and documentaries for radio broadcast.
In addition to broadcasting, I have also explored the field of print Journalism, as a campus Reporter for Premium Times Newspaper, and as an Intern Reporter at Daily Trust Newspaper Lagos. There, I reported and wrote several news reports across many beats for both print and online publication.
Vanessa Ukamaka Richard Bassey on live radio on gender mainstreaming programme, Let’s Talk Women on Let’s Talk Nigeria focused on amplifying issues about women. PC: Richards.
In 2019, during my National Youth Service Corps programme, I organized a radio talk show where I shared stories of girls using rags and plantain leaves to manage their period and got a lot of attention from concerned indigenes of Cross River State who assisted some of the girls with sanitary towels. I also created a series on radio to educate girls on the need to use sanitary pads and how to practice a healthy and clean menstrual time.
I presently work in Sparkling 92.3FM in Calabar, Cross River State, as News Anchor and talk show host, conducting in-depth reporting and presenting issues on politics and good governance at local government, state and national levels.
To promote Fact Checking, I co-created a 15 minutes segment on my daily show to fact check the veracity of claims reported on our platforms. This is in collaboration with Africa Check. Besides, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, I created a health program connecting medical experts with the public, especially people at the grassroots level in dire need of information to make the right health decisions. I continue to research, report and produce the program.
I was recently certified a solutions journalist by the Solutions Journalism Network after investigating and broadcasting solutions stories on lack of good sanitary conditions in some communities in Cross River State.
Interestingly, Vanessa is also the Host of Impact Africa Podcast & Impact Africa webinar series by Faithflows, dedicated to educate, empower and equip young people with requisite skills and information by providing a platform for interaction with industry leaders and experts.
What do you think radio broadcast programming and management needs to do better?
Investing in building the capacity of individuals who commit and work with them.
Who are those in the industry you look up to that helps shape your approach to broadcasting?
I have always admired Sandra Ezekwesili. She was with Nigeria Info.
What struggles do young journalists experience and what kind of support do they need?
The struggles we face is trying to find a niche that we can fit in well. Having to pursue solely our own professional development without the input of our employers. Lack of proper renumeration. For some, lack of access to opportunities and mentorship.
The support we need; we need Mentors to help us navigate the rigours experienced during the early-start of our careers. We need a community where opportunities and trainings can be found. We need funding for some of the creative approach we want to adopt in our work. We also need better renumeration. Most of all, we need motivation.
What tools do you use on the job?
I use Google apps like google docs, drive, etc. Audio editing apps like Adobe audition. Video editing apps like inshot, caput.
I have used the Internet and social media platforms like X formerly twitter, Facebook to stay ahead and relevant more recently LinkedIn. I have also joined a few international communities for journalists to stay ahead.
Radio Anchor and Podcaster, Vanessa Ukamaka Richard Bassey. Pic: Bassey.
Tell us what your plan looks in the next 2-5 years.
In the next 2-5 years, I want to transcend to Television broadcasting. Run a podcast dedicated to timely and accurate health information that will be a go-to place for people to get the right health education that will influence change. I want to attend national snf and international fellowships for journalists. Possibly begin a masters degree in health journalism.
What do you think makes your generation of Journos lucky in this digital age?
My generation is lucky because we have an array of digital tools that can make our work easier. These tools also give us a wider reach. Hence, we have to leverage these tools to intentionally shape the information landscape while also navigating the challenges these tools come with. We also have to confront misinformation and fake news constructively.