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Radio Host Spotlights Africa - 2003-05-19

English Feature #7-37459 Broadcast May 19, 2003

Radio listeners in the Washington D.C. area have over 130 radio stations to choose from, offering news, information, music and talk programming to suit virtually every taste and need. Today on New American Voices you’ll meet a young Washingtonian from the Ivory Coast who has just launched a radio program aimed at listeners interested in Africa.

“Spotlight on Africa” opening

Linord Moudou is a slight, striking young woman with wide-set eyes, a brilliant smile, and sleek black hair tied back with a red ribbon. A month ago, pooling her own savings and loans from family members, she started a one-hour weekly radio program called “Spotlight on Africa”.

“I thought about this program as a way to talk about Africa but in a brighter light, in a light that is more appealing. Promoting the African continent is done through music, through interviews of people that are working in the 21st century to help Africa move forward. Basically, it’s about putting Africa in a different light, different from what it is known throughout the world, which is mostly war and diseases and starvation and so on.”

Each Friday evening Ms Moudou hosts the program from a well-equipped studio in a radio station located in a quiet residential neighborhood on the outskirts of Washington. The station has an international flavor, broadcasting programs in Tigrinya, Spanish, Amharic, Tagalog, and French, as well as programs of Jewish and Irish music. Ms Moudou conducts her program mostly in English, although, given that her audience includes immigrants from Francophone Africa, some segments are in French as well.

“My audience first and foremost I should say is African, Africans living here in the Washington, D.C. metro area, and then the secondary audience I would say is African-Americans that are looking for connections to the motherland, to their roots, to know a little more about the interesting people and places of Afica. The other audience, the general audience, would be anybody interested to know about Africa.”

Linord Moudou says she got into radio by way of television. She came to the United States in 1993 to study international journalism, with the intention of becoming a television professional. She interned at several television stations, hosted a TV show on public television, and eventually started her own television program, also called “Spotlight on Africa”. But when that project ended due to a lack of advertisers and sponsors, she says friends encouraged her to go into radio instead.

“I said, well, I don’t know about radio, for I didn’t think that I have a pleasant voice for radio, and I was told, no, try radio – so anyway, I decided to try, and I called around to find out about what radio station could carry the program, and I discovered this one, New World Radio, that was open. Because I have to tell you I tried regular networks –- and it wasn’t easy.”

Using her television experience, the radio broadcasting courses she had in college, the example of some friends who were successful radio broadcasters, and just plain media savvy, Linord Moudou put together a pan-African radio program consisting of a lively combination of music, talk, interviews, profiles, and community news.

“What makes me happy now is to know that here in the DC metro area there is a program that allows Africans to express themselves. I think giving that opportunity to my African brothers and sisters and to the African diaspora really makes me happy on a daily basis. That’s really where I get my strength from to carry on.”

Linord Moudou eventually hopes to expand her production company to include not only radio but also a television show, and to become, as she says, a household name for people interested in Africa. She believes that in this country, more, perhaps, than in any other, she can attain her goal.

“For someone like me, who’s an immigrant, I have to say that the opportunities that were presented to me were great. I’ve traveled a little bit, and there’s not so many countries, I think, where you can have an immigrant, you know, in a society that can study, work, and make some money, and then start her own business or anything that she wants to start. It might sound like it was easy for me, but it wasn’t, but I think the opportunities that I had to do what I wanted to do, that’s something that I value about this country.”

Based on her own experience in the United States – ten years of studying, working, and striving to carve a niche for herself in the media field -- Linord Moudou has some cautionary advice for people immigrating to this country, particularly those from Africa.

“First of all I would say never to lose sight of what they came here for. Because you can get lost very quickly in this society. When you come to this capitalist world, you get carried away by making money, you know, you might lose track of your goals. So I would say just make sure you never lose sight of who you are, where you’re coming from, and use your origins to help you move toward your goals. Use your culture as a basis to make decisions, to learn, to look for happiness -- because I guess people come here ultimately to find happiness.”

Last week “Spotlight on Africa” found its first big sponsor-advertiser, assuring its future for the time being, and helping Linord Moudou take another step toward realizing her goals.

“Spotlight on Africa” closing