Title: Absolute Radio: The Inspiring True Story of the First Private Radio Station in Ghana’s Western Region
Author: Phillip Nyakpo
Format: Paperback, eBook (Kindle) and as an Audiobook (read by the author)
Year of Publication: September 2022
Place of Publication: Perth, Australia
Number of Pages: 370
Availability: All Online Bookstores Worldwide, including Amazon
WhatsApp: +61 493 219 774
Book Website: www.nyakpo.com.au
Phillip Nyakpo uses the voices and stories of over seventy people to expertly craft a narrative of the conception and journey of the first private radio station in Ghana’s western region in the book he wrote and published, titled Absolute Radio. According to Victoria Ellen Smith, “radio is popular in the West African nation… and an evident part of everyday life through the country” (Smith, 2018, p. 8).
For the people whose stories are detailed in the 2022 forty-four-chapter book, radio was their life. Nyakpo manages to combine his interviewees’ histories with the history of Skyy Power FM. This narrative structure consistently reinforces the underlying theme that the men and women who worked at the radio station were the radio station and “the full tapestry of their stories are worth telling and preserving” (Nyakpo, 2022, p. 31).
The two narratives are interweaved to make a larger one. Nyakpo’s self-professed goal of commemorating the history of the radio station and the people that were a part of it is accomplished by the extremely personal aspect of the novel, which is also perhaps the most compelling part too.
Chapters one through four of the story introduce four key figures in the conception of the Sekondi-Takoradi radio station. In Papa Owusu-Ankomah’s own words from chapter one, “The Folly of a Private Radio Station in Takoradi,” he wanted Ghana to have a radio station “that could educate, inform and entertain” (Nyakpo, 2022, p. 11). Nyakpo achieves this in his own book about said radio station, educating, informing, and entertaining the audience with vivid details of each person’s life and direct interview quotes that bring the characters of the narrative to life. It is as if the reader is speaking directly to the people like Papa Owusu-Ankomah, Jonathan Sowah, Arthur Wilson, and Kingsley Boohene who made Skyy Power FM possible.
A Biography and Memoir
Chapters five and six are biographical and memorial accounts about Nana Nketsia, Mrs. Kwansima Bedu-Amissah, and Uncle Opia, three people who fully supported Skyy Power FM and immediately understood the importance of the project. Nketsia, who witnessed the birth of the radio station but was not employed there, told Nyakpo, “Skyy became the place that educated and informed us… the guys who worked there came from diverse parts of Ghana, and they spoke like they belonged in the Western Region. They helped this city stand on its feet” (Nyakpo, 2022, p. 41).
This sentiment parallels Sarah Akrofi-Quarcoo and Audrey Gadzekpo’s assertion that “colonial and post-colonial Ghanian broadcast producers and presenters, as well as public personalities, were instrumental in indigenizing radio by subverting the broadcast of western cultural content for local language programs” (Akrofi-Quarcoo & Audrey Gadzekpo, 2020, p. 97). Skyy Power FM was and still is so important to Sekondi-Takoradi and Africa as a whole because of what it represented: Ghanian voices.
Chapters seven through forty-three are all accounts of former Skyy Power FM employees that worked at the radio station in a twenty-five-year time span and made it the prominent piece of history it came to be.
Each chapter provides background information on the former employee, their experiences with the radio stations, and inspirational messages that can be taken away by the audience from their time at Skyy Power FM. Nyakpo accomplishes this feat through the use of direct quotes from his interviews which he situates between summaries of the interviewee’s lives. It is evident in each chapter that the private radio station was a fundamental portion of each person’s life, further reinforcing the importance of the private station and the need for a book such as this one that chronicles the history of the physical radio station and the people who made it possible.
According to Seyram Avle, “two factors – liberalization and hybridization of media – have played a key role in why Ghana has such a high standard of press freedom, and why radio is still important” (Avle, 2011, p. 11). This journey of press freedom and radio importance can be found in the stories of Skyy Power FM’s past employees; their stories inherently tell the stories of journalism and radio since both were a part of their own lives. Through these chapters, the reader learns about more than the history of Skyy Power FM, they learn about the history of African journalism and radio too. The interconnectedness of personal and national histories is once again spotlighted by Nyakpo.
The Closing Chapter
The forty-fourth chapter, the last one before the epilogue, “Through The Eyes of an Englishman,” provides a prime example of just how important and influential radio, and furthermore Skyy Power FM, is. Martin Hiles, a man born in England who arrived in Sekondi-Takoradi three years before the radio station’s establishment, is the subject of the final chapter. Though he was not an employee of the station, he used it to advocate for better development initiatives in Ghana. Nyakpo explained that even though Martin was not from there, “one of the outstanding contributions [he] made was his use of Takoradi’s first private radio to advocate better development initiatives for the people of Takoradi, Ghana and Africa” (Nyakpo, 2022, p. 365). Ending the book with this anecdote reinforces the uses and influence of radio.
In their article about community engagement and community radio, Manfred K. Asusman and Africanus L. Diedong suggest “the most amazing thing about community radio is its potential to allow local people to determine the development dialogue” (Asusman & Diedong, 2019, p. 179). This statement rings true for the potential effects of private radio too, as seen by the specific example given to the reader by Nyakpo. He leaves the audience with a clear message that private radio, specifically Skyy Power FM, is powerful.
Overall, Absolute Radio expertly combines interviews, background information, historical information, and more to craft a narrative that tells the story of Skyy Power FM and the men and women who worked there. Their stories, which make the collective story of the radio station, also incorporate the development of journalism and Ghana as a whole. Nyakpo stresses the importance of radio and the people who make up the world of radio. It is an intriguing and entertaining read that educates, informs, and entertains the audience while commemorating the history of a niche world.