Strauss Lunyangwe Windhoek-Katutura-based community radio Base FM has not had a presenter on air since the first week of December last year, with the board of directors saying this was in part to help contain debts that are currently nearing N$1 million. Switching to frequency 106.9 FM opens doors to uninterrupted music all day long. It is understood that before the presenters went off air, electricity was shut down at the station. This prompted the new board to re-strategise and move their equipment to a new facility in order to keep transmitting. Anita Nangombe, chairperson of the new board elected in June last year, said that the new board inherited the old management’s debt which ran into almost a million dollars. In order to not increase on the already existing debt they decided to move to a new facility to help arrest the escalating bill. Part of the issues the new board had to tackle from the onset was budget lines, rental payments for the premises, as well as the transmitters, payment of municipal services, as well as employees’ salaries. Presenter Elton Jimmy, known to listeners as Sexy Jimmy, who has been with the station for the past nine years, believes the new board prioritised other agendas than that of serving the community. He questioned how the board had plans to rebrand the station, without doing proper consultation with the staff. “How could you want to rebrand the station without settling outstanding salaries, because rebranding will have some financial injection of some sort,” he said. In defence, Nangombe explained that the station is a community radio station that cannot be expected to pay salaries like a commercial station. The outstanding salaries, which were incurred by the previous management, cannot be put solely on the new board as they opted to start on a clean slate and let the past stay in the past, she said. The board held a meeting with the staff two weeks ago and explained the current situation. Most of the presenters and staff alike indicated that they would return once everything was sorted. The board has also engaged their creditors to ensure that the debt incurred will be paid in due course, Nangombe added. Part of the plan of removing presenters from the air is to set up training for them and guidelines how to better produce shows. The new transition is also set to unveil a new building in Windhoek’s CBD area from February, where the station will be housed. Since its appointment, the new board has started paying presenters, setting up new management structures, providing meals for staff as well as exposing staff to new training opportunities. Nangombe said that repositioning the brand and making it viable would take time. She thanked different stakeholders such as the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, UNESCO, College of the Arts and other donors who have helped sustain the station thus far.
2018-01-24 09:05:26 7 months ago