“I ALWAYS wanted to do radio because from very early I was attached to the radio. Despite the fact that I had other activities to be engaged in, I always wanted to listen ardently to the radio,” says Debra Francis, a radio broadcaster with 104.1FM who has been living her childhood dream for over 25 years.
Radio has always been a source of disseminating information to persons, especially in rural communities.
Francis began her career at an early age. Radio, for her, meant a sense of purpose being fulfilled, since she believed that she was born with a gift to keep people informed and aware of the situations in and around the country.
“I am the first person [in my family] who wanted to do anything related to the Arts. Most of my family members were business people. My dad is a businessman who came from the island of St Vincent and the Grenadines and my mom was a housewife, so I think naturally my siblings were into the business and entrepreneurship,” Francis told the Pepperpot Magazine.
She noted during her interview that she always felt the influence and the power of radio. According to her, it can change lives.
She shared that when she completed her sixth form at St Stanislaus College, she applied to the then Guyana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) to be a radio announcer, but because she completed her sixth form education, they had a programme called the “Onward, Upward programme” and she was given the opportunity to co-host the show with Meranno Isaacs and Aunty Lorraine, who were the announcers at the time.
The girl from Matthew’s Ridge in Region One (Barima /Waini) was happy to share that radio was not so much of a challenge since it was a passion for her. Still, for her, the challenge would have been working and studying since she was a student at the University of Guyana at the time.
“I had gone to University to pursue my studies after being employed, but then I was told that the best option for me would be to complete my studies and then work,” Francis told the Pepperpot Magazine.
TRADITIONAL RADIO VS THE INTERNET GENERATION
There is a place for the Internet and modern-day technology, as we know it today. Francis, in her analysis of the matter, concluded that they are part of the communication industry.
“Our audiences are diverse. It is no longer someone waiting on the news at 18hrs. The news is twenty-four-seven, it is on demand and I think that social media [and the internet] serves as a vehicle to get the message across to the audience, so while radio has its place, you also have to complement it with social media,” Francis opined.
Often times, the issue of making the transition from a hard news reporter to a broadcaster and making people entertained is quite a metamorphosis and can be a challenge.
Francis pointed out that as a broadcaster, you have to know your purpose and the specification of your role when you grace the radio.
She alluded to the fact that radio nowadays has become both visual and auditory with the use of streaming services.
It, therefore, means that you as the broadcaster have to know your audience, and bear in mind that you are being viewed and listened to, as such you must be careful of the content that you produce.
Francis concluded that radio still remains relevant today especially since there is still almost a complete dependency on people for radio for people who live in the far-flung areas of our country for information.