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18 February 2001

Beal Co-Hosts Radio Program in Africa


        George Christensen (L) & Meredith Beal

Banjul, Gambia -- Lasting Value CEO Meredith Clayton Beal was invited to guest host a Jazz show at Radio 1-FM studios outside of Banjul, Gambia's capitol. Program Director George Christensen extended the invitation to share some music and dialogue about technology and the impact of the digital age on Africa.

The Independence Day Show celebrated Gambia's 35th year of independence from British rule. Beal was traveling in Africa with producer Oko Drammeh as they prepared for the continental release of Soto Koto's new product — Kora Dance by the Soto Koto Band featuring Jaliba Kuyateh.

Beal shared some of his favorite cuts by artists like Cannonball Adderly and Sonny Rollins and he and Christensen discussed Beal's occupation as a Global Webmaster for Dell and the implications of the internet on the daily lives of Africans.

When Beal and Drammeh arrived at Radio 1's studios, Christensen and a few staff members were sitting outside in the dark— there was a power blackout (as is typical in many parts of Africa and the rest of the neo-colonial world). In addition, the station's back-up generator was on the blink so the station was off the air as well. "We were wondering, as we approached, why we couldn't find the signal on the dial," Beal recalls.

The two joined Christensen in the darkness to wait out the power failure. A dialogue insued which became the basis for the discussion which occurred on air when the power was restored. Beal and Christensen talked about control of content and Africans being in control of their own destiny. Christensen lamented the dilema faced by many broadcasters in Africa of being forced to air content which is not in the best interest of their audience. He said that, "...for instance, BBC has no radio stations in Africa and makes no capital investment but has affiliate stations all over the continent. If they broadcast a negative story about Africa or something derogatory about Gambia, we still have to air it!" he explained.

They also talked about the efforts of community radio station owners in Africa to address the challenges of limited technical resources, standardizing media for easy exchange and identifying basic technical standards, and they explored some of the programs implemented to share knowledge and expand training opportunities.

During the show, Beal and Christensen discussed the challenges to Africans seeking to embace internet commerce opportunities, Beal described the factors involved in designing interfaces that are culturally sensitive and the two promisied to continue the dialogue through email and future radio programs.

For more information contact Lasting Value Communications at 512.257.2831