Auntie Mo Kids Radio, is an all-positive internet radio station offering 24/7 children and parent-oriented programs and it’s the first of its kind in Africa. Read below on what inspired the organizers to move on this project and how you can take advantage of their programs or help.
What sparked the idea of creating this station?
The use of learning resources derived from a child’s familiar environment has been shown to increase learning aptitude. To the average African family, however, books are not a priority purchase because they are typically unaffordable. Good quality instructors are also few, and equally expensive. Nevertheless, more than 50% of communities in Africa potentially have access to the internet either through computers or mobile devices including phones. If they are able to employ these to access learning resources, a whole new vista is available for educating children of the poor. I recently read somewhere that Facebook has more than 100 million users in Africa. This proves that the basic infrastructure is there; it only needs to be put to more productive use.
Auntie Mo Kids Radio is more than a website. It is an evolving educational system. The objective is to make the audio educational and entertainment content, directly available primarily to children, either by streaming from an internet browser or a mobile device. Pairing a mobile device streaming audio from the internet, with some other inexpensive devices such as a personal FM transmitter which costs less than $10, an internet radio could be broadcast over normal FM radio sets. This means that an entire class of children could receive free and good quality education and entertainment every day from Auntie Mo Kids Radio.
How important is it for the station to use its platform to advance African oriented programming, stories, and music to children?
My name is Rotimi Ogunjobi; I am a storyteller and author- a contemporary African griot. A few years ago, I had the idea to provide free localized reading material for young African children through a project which I called Opengriot. The concept was that teachers and anyone, could go to the Opengriot website, download any story of their choice, print out as many copies as they desired and distribute to local children to read. We had stories in several languages, many of which I wrote myself. However, the prime challenge of Opengriot was that even though the content was offered free of charge, printing costs money. Auntie Mo Kids Radio was thus created to take a solution to the initial challenge a step further.
As I previously mentioned, much of the foundation of every person’s life and livelihood is laid in childhood. And if we are looking to create more prosperous African societies, we need to empower children with the richest and most relevant learning resources. We started Auntie Mo Kids Radio with the objective of broadcasting only for the use of African children, but we discovered that there were a substantial number of listeners from all over the world, suggesting a “Wakanda” opportunity to tell the alternative African story to all African and other children residing all over the world.
What types of programming do you have specifically for parents?
Positive Parenting is the title of the only program we currently have for parents. Children need to be guided right before they can grow right. The major task should rest on the parents, but no parent knows everything there is to know about guiding kids. Many parents have at one time or the other wished they had opinions of those that have before been in a specific situation, to guide their actions, especially when a child behaves in an unpleasant fashion. Positive Parenting enables parents to learn about child-rearing issues, and if possible also contribute their own voices.
We formerly had a program titled Inspired Classics, which we have temporarily discontinued. The program consisted of readings from classic motivational books, the purpose of which was to pep parents up for success both in their careers and with bringing up admirable children.
And of course, we also have generous sessions of child-friendly popular music especially for the listening pleasure of parents.
What type of feedback do you receive from children, schools or their parents?
Feedback has been enormously encouraging, especially from parents and schools. Most wish that we added more books to the reading list. Children love stories as much as they love songs. Storybooks and songs are especially important to a child’s development. They build reading and comprehension skills, excite the imagination and initiate creativity in children.
We have been very much encouraged by responses from all over the world. We are confident we can do even better than the many suggestions.
What production difficulties does the station face and what do you need to overcome them?
Content development is always a major priority, and also a major cost center. Promoting through advertisement and other media is also another major cost center.
Auntie Mo Kids Radio was created as a public service project and not a commercial venture. Looking for investors is out of the question, so we need to talk more to possible donors or to have more talk to us. Finance is the primary challenge, without which we cannot purchase more content or more equipment to enhance current broadcasting activities. The major production difficulties at this time all have to do with finance.
Obtaining financing for a not-for-profit of this type can indeed be a crippling challenge as we have lately found. Apparently, most interested commercial firms would often get stuck in the process of deciding whether whatever they are looking to commit should be recorded in their books as a donation to a charity or as a business expense. We keep trying nevertheless.
Your website states that you are looking for English speaking volunteers. What type of people volunteer and if our readers wanted to get in involved, what kind of work would they be doing?
Yes, we are looking for children-minded workers all over the world as volunteers on this project for several tasks including:
- Reading children stories for broadcast
- Creating exciting jingles and sweepers
- Creating educational material (French lessons, Arabic lessons, English lessons)
- Geographies, Histories, Nature Study, etc.)
- Contributing views on positive parenting for listener parents. Our current preferred topics can be found at the website.
- Assisting with local tip-jar fundraising for the project.
- Creating other broadcast ideas of interest to kids
We are at this time looking for English-speaking volunteers from all over the world, with a radio quality voice or near. We require interested persons to send a short clip of their voice recording or other material for evaluation.
Regarding growth, what future projects or programming are in the works?
Our broadcasting model is not perfect and not adequate, but it is the cheapest solution that has at this time offered itself. Internet-enabled mobile devices are getting cheaper and more popular, and the internet radio can be accessed on the go, anywhere you can find an internet connection, anywhere around the world. Nevertheless, we would eventually wish to upgrade to adding a radio transmitter for terrestrial broadcast. With a radio transformer, you can reach deeper and further, and the audience may not need access to the internet. It is a desirable dream, but yes there is a possibility in the future and provided we can find a sponsor for such a large capital outlay.
Creating and broadcasting educational videos with African themes is also another project which we shall certainly be actively involved within the next year.