OCTOBER 17, 2005 – School of Telecommunications graduate student George Kuaku Doe has brought his concern for cultural awareness and community development from his native country of Ghana to Athens through his show on the WOUB-AM program, “Live from Studio B.”
“Live from Studio B,” a weekly program that airs on AM 1340 Fridays from 12:30 to 1 p.m., has produced programs from Athens volunteers since 1996. The range of topics is unlimited.
“What he wanted to do fit along with the WOUB mission,” said Bryan Gibson, AM program manager for WOUB. “WOUB is an outreach program for the community; it seemed like a natural thing. I leave it up to him to choose the guests and topics.”
So far, Doe has produced two shows, one of which has not yet been aired. For one of the segments, he invited the director of the Center for Community Service for a showed titled “The Role of Ohio University Center for Community Service in Athens County.” For his second show, he spoke with the coordinator for the Appalachian Peace and Justice Network for a program titled “Conflict Management and Peer Mediation: The Role of Appalachian Peace and Justice Network.”
The show, which runs the third week of each month, is purely focused on the Athens community. He said he wants to discuss several issues like the environment, peace and justice, and student involvement in enhancement programs. The next program will be aired Friday, Oct. 21.
Doe, in his second year in the Communication Development Studies program, has worked with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, a country-wide radio network, for the past eight years in Sunyani, the capital of the Brong-Ahafo Region. But he did not start in radio. In 1988, Doe received a degree in history and education from the University of Cape Coast, located just southwest from his native Accra. In 1997, Ghana liberalized its airways, so he applied to work for the national radio network. Once he was accepted, he was sent to a training school where he learned news gathering skills, radio production, script writing, how to arrange music programs, magazine program hosting and how to develop talk shows. Doe then started worked at Radio BAR where he is a producer, host to several programs, an anchor and music program organizer. It was through a panelist on his talk show, who happened to be an Ohio University alumnus, that he was introduced to this university.
Doe said he looks forward to taking what he has learned at Ohio University with him back to apply it in Ghana.
“I believe in going down to the roots, to the rural areas,” Doe said. “I want to try to blend into their culture to help them understand what they can do to bring change into their own lives.”
Ghana, located on the western coast between Togo and the Ivory Coast, has six official dialects and corresponding cultures. Due to the business he is in, Doe, part of the Ewe ethnic group, is required to speak several dialects. The average person, however, speaks his or her native dialect, sometimes English and possibly Akan, the most dominant ethnic group.
Doe's passion is to improve his home country from the ground up. He knows through experience that his profession can instigate change.
“Where my station is located…there are a lot of rural areas, and a lot of things go unreported,” he said. “There was a man who was murdered, so (when it happened) I didn't waste time. I had my mobile phone and just dialed the office, and said I have a news flash. I do it before the printers started chasing the story.”
Doe covered another incident that involved a girl who died as a result of an illegal abortion.
“I realized the police wanted to take money from the family before releasing the body,” he said. According to Doe, he wrote a story about the incident that led to personnel changes at the police station.
Another example of Doe's contributions to his country occurred when he wrote a story about the lack of an intra-city taxi service in Domaa Ahenkro, a district capital. Many of the residents, he described, had to ride bicycles for long distances. Once he reported on it, that all changed. The city's mayor recognized the issue and organized a transportation service.
“You see the problem and help bring something positive out of it; that's what I've been doing,” he said. “With Athens, we'll move around, we'll do a lot of things. There will be a lot of opportunities throughout the county. In Ghana, what we normally do is put an idea on them. They evolve the idea themselves. That will be the same for here, too. The awareness is very high here (in Athens), but if there is a flaw, maybe we can do something about it.” On top of class work and “Live from Studio B,” Doe also acts as a foreign correspondent for Ghana.
“There are 75 Ghanaian students at Ohio University,” Doe said. “I decided to send the news made by Ghanaians back to the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation. Through this work, more people are hearing about the university. People want to come and study.”
Some of his articles can be seen at Ghanaweb.com. Other works were radio programs produced here and aired in Ghana .
Doe is also a part of a monthly radio program called “Dunia,” which debuted last year. This show covers a wide range of topics and is run by students from Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Ukraine, India, Peru and Indonesia. This year's edition is still in the planning process, but it may be on air again in the winter. “I think it's admirable that he takes the interest that he does in the Athens community, more than the students and more than some residents,” Gibson said. “I think it's remarkable. He comes from Ghana, but he's immersed himself so well into our county.”
According to College of Communication Associate Dean for Graduate Studies David Mould, who is also acting director of the CommDev program, cultural exchange and awareness are two goals of the program. Students like Doe strengthen those exchanges.
“It's really important that students coming from developing countries see that a lot of the problems in rural Appalachia are similar and that we can get some kind of cultural exchange between them,” Mould said. “The Ghanaians in the program are generally very open and wanting to share their happiness. George is one of these people. He's very generous.” Doe said he has grown accustomed to Southeast Ohio life, even though he is far from his three children. However, he looks forward to returning home once his studies are complete. - Arian Smedley