20 years of golden moments with Radio Gold (part 2)

 Fiifi Banson

Two weeks ago, we took a look at Radio Gold from its inception to a certain point. It was an effort to recount the history of the station since it was established and started broadcasting 20 years ago on March 6. We promised to continue the following week, but had to take a break due to AMVCA.

Among the highlights of what I discussed in the first part was how Wednesdays used to be the day on which the station was dedicated to all-talk programming and how I used to spend my Wednesdays glued to it.

So welcome to the continuation and (of course), the concluding part of my look back on some of the great moments that has characterised the twenty years life of the Laterbiokorshie-based radio station.

For most part of its early years, you got the sense that Radio Gold was primarily an English speaking radio station. Its programmes were in English and English was what the presenters spoke with.

Callers had to plead when they wanted to speak in any language apart from English, even those were on rare occasions when they called into Kwami Sefa Kayi’s Kanawu.

The prevailing wisdom in the mid-90s when the likes of Joy FM, Radio Gold, Vibe FM, Groom FM, Choice FM were in their elements was that English was the one true language that would make any station survive in Accra. Go the Akan, Ga or any other way and you are done.

However, Vibe FM proved through a Ga language show called Asenta that you could use the local language to get to your audience. Again, Vibe FM through Odeefour showed the radio community at the time that there was a massively huge market in Akan broadcasting.

If anyone picked the cue from Vibe FM’s Odeefour it has to be Osei Kwame Despite and his team who established Peace FM in late 90s.

They showed everyone the way to radio broadcasting in the capital using Akan and how successful that could be.

The success of Peace FM made people ask questions. Kwasi Twum of Multimedia acquired Groove FM and converted it into an Akan speaking station and named it Adom FM. Other Akan language stations sprang up during that period.

Radio Gold’s response to all these was to make sure that they would kill two birds with one stone. The parent company, Vision Broadcasting Network, didn’t acquire another station to broadcast in Akan, but rather developed a dual language of English and Akan.

There was a huge fanfare that preceded this change over with Mikki Osei-Berko, the late afternoon show host at the time being the one whose voice was used to push this new change massively. So it was that Radio Gold added Akan to its broadcasting on the morning show and elsewhere.

Oman Somfo Nana Yaw Kwakye, Koo Ofori and Omanhene Kwabena Asante all found prominent places on the morning show with their own developed segments and also on other shows on the station throughout the day.

One of the most fascinating periods in the life of Radio Gold has to be the days when B.B. Menson, The Virus, used to host the world famous B.B.’s Night Train.

Goodness me, I have not been swept off my feet by one single show on radio (except maybe Komla Dumor’s Super Morning Show and Kwaku Sakyi Addo’s Front Page) like B.B.’s Night Train!

You may not like Menson’s caustic attitude, but as a radio presenter, he was outstanding and on the Night Train, he came with all the elements that define his broadcast persona. Starting from 10pm, you could never tune off until he closes the show sometime after midnight.

It must be the music, it must be the suspense and above all, it must be the fact that you wanted to listen to who else B.B. would have a beef with and how he would react to it.

It was a constant appointment with the man who would later assume the role of General Manager of the station as he did his thing on his Night Train. Brilliant stuff, back in the day!

Sports has always been given prominence on Radio Gold and some of the big name sports presenters have passed through that station.

Fiifi Banson developed the foundation ably assisted by his producer, Tony Owusu Amofa (may his soul rest in peace). The two built formidable sports content in those days.

However, over the years, Radio Gold has been the home for some of the greatest sports presenters of our generation including the likes of Randy Abbey, Kwame Baah Nuako, Kurt Okraku, Prosper Harrison Addo, Jerry Kwame Ayensu, Wano Wano, Nana Darkwa, Mohammed Alhassan and Edgar Appiah.

One of the segments that has generated a lot of controversy on Radio Gold especially in the early 2,000s has to be Konkonsa. Koo Ofori advised the president in the morning and Thy Will Be Done Korsivi Korsi came with Konkonsa in the evening to top it.

It is an understatement to say that for a very long period of time, the radio dial stopped on 90.5FM when Konkonsa was on.

In the mid to late 2,000s, Radio Gold introduced a new programme that challenged the existing talk programmes in the area of no-holds-barred discussion of national issues. Alhaji and Alhaji featured Alhaji Bature and Alhaji A.B.A Fuseini then of Daily Graphic.

Let’s just say the controversies that the programme’s hosts and guests including Kwesi Pratt generated echoed in the corridors of power leading to many ramifications. It also gave a lot of pressure to existing talk programmes on other stations.

The story goes that it was when he picked the media consumption report and realised the beating Newsfile had been receiving from Alhaji and Alhaji that Komla Dumor as acting General Manager of Joy FM fired the then host, Francis Ankrah, and replaced him with Nana Yaa Ofori-Attah.

Long before the craze of entertainment shows will hit Accra radio, Praim I, the one person who took on the reggae music mantle on Radio Gold was hosting Solid Gold Countdown.

This show and DJ Abio’s show on Channel R set the pace for entertainment review shows. It was on Saturday and had the most important entertainment news makers coming through.

Radio Gold has presented a platform to many who cut their teeth in the field of broadcasting or deepened their knowledge in the area including the likes of Shirley Frimpong-Manso, Yvonne Andoh, Akosua Somo Puni, John Danfo, Ato Kwamena Swotson, Wofa K, Henry Agbai, Obobia Darko and many others.

Kwesi Saintie Baffoe-Bonney gave life to this station 20 years ago and he nurtured it till he had to take on a higher calling after 2008 elections.

It is a station that has been a part of the liberation of the airwaves and has in many ways contributed its quota to the development of the nation.

Some will disagree with the eventual political stance that the station is perceived to have taken and yet others will think it is the best thing that happened.

However, it is looked at though, as one who has been watching the radio scene for well over two decades, I think Radio Gold has done its part, with warts and all.