Minister hopes UG’s ‘Intelligent Radio’ brings back smart reporting

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The ribbon is cut by Guyana’s Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes, to mark the launch of the University of Guyana’s 95.5 Intelligent Radio on July 18, 2019.

Intelligent Radio Studios is the newest station on the nation’s airwaves. On Thursday, July 18, 2019, the University of Guyana (UG), with support from ExxonMobil Guyana, celebrated the revitalization of UG’s campus radio programming. The University had established its first radio station, Golden Arrow Broadcast System, in the 1970s but it was until 2017, some 27 years later, that the Ministry of Public Telecommunications granted the institution a new radio license.

Now, it is operating as 95.5 Intelligent Radio. The station cost around GY$8 million to set up, of which ExxonMobil Guyana contributed GY$4 million.

Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes explained the significance of the station’s establishment. “UG’s Communications Centre is bridging the gap and this station will provide the tactical on-the-job experience that every good journalist needs,” she stated.

Hughes said the arrival of radio on campus provides an avenue for communications students, particularly those looking to pursue journalism as a career, to hone their craft. 95.5 Intelligent Radio, she said, will provide the practical on-the-job experience every good journalist needs.

“I’ve noted that this is the ‘Intelligent Radio’ and that struck me again. It is my hope that on these airwaves we will find balance in reporting; the sharing of both sides of the story. The understanding and acceptance of varying perspectives of an issue. That objectivity and fairness would be the mantra. That facts are checked and double-checked before they are aired and that fake news that dominates the day might be reduced, because at the end of the day, giving citizens accurate information supersedes anything else,” Hughes pointed out.

She said the rush to get the story out at all cost, without fact-checking and paying any attention to the accuracy of the information being provided to the public leaves much to be desired. “We would like to read and listen to local news that is not twisted and tainted by political allegiance,” she said.

Speaking to those gathered, Deedra Moe, ExxonMobil Guyana’s Senior Director Public and Government Affairs, said the company is proud to be partnering with the university for this initiative which will play a key role in the development of its journalism and communications programme which has been in existence for more than 35 years.

“We are extremely happy as a company to be part of this momentous occasion in the life of this institution with which we have ongoing partnerships in a number of areas. This is a testament to the important role we believe education plays in society,” she said.

“Our support helped UG acquire the transmitter, develop the rigging in the studio, all of the necessary components for a fully functioning station… We’re just extremely proud of all of the work that’s been done and recognize all of the efforts and look forward to a continued partnership with the University and its students,” Moe added.

The station’s programming will cover topics on history, education, entertainment and current affairs. The station is also not-for-profit: meaning that it will operate solely on grants, gifts, and donations.

Chairman of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) Mr. Leslie Sobers, expressed the desire to see the station at the forefront of local content creation in Guyana.

“Give Guyanese more of our local content. We have not yet even achieved 30% of our airtime being dedicated to local content… so I’d really like to see the University becoming the forerunner of doing that,” Sobers stated.

Dr. Seeta Shah Roath, Consultant and UG Alumna, was pivotal in the formation of the station. While Dr. Roath is proud of the achievement; she notes that it is only the first step to a bigger dream for the Communications Department. “I enjoyed the privilege of setting up the infrastructure to make our dream of a UG radio station a reality and look forward to the time when we can do the same for television,” Dr. Roath related.

The event, which was chaired by Proffessor Paloma Mohamed, was topped off with the transmission of Intelligent Radio’s first broadcast; a Q&A session with the media who were present for the launch. For the first six months, the station will operate from 17:00 hrs to 21:00 hrs Monday to Friday. After that, the station will be on air every day from 10 hrs to 21:00 hrs.