Conference Call Radio

How do you keep a diaspora community intact? Guineans immigrants to the United States have developed an unusual workaround to the problem of dispersement: using free conference call lines as radio stations. American users, often from francophone west Africa, dial in and join a vibrant “talk show” linking past and present—with a collaborative twist. It’s pretty ingenious:

“Think of it as a platform serving the needs of the community,” said Mamadou Barry, a Guinean immigrant based in Columbus, Ohio. Mamadou and I met last year when he was visiting New York City. After finding out that I was a radio producer, Mamadou was quick to introduce me to his conference call radio show, GuineeView. Every weekend, Mamadou and his friends organize what he calls “interactive radio shows” using free conference call services.

There are hundreds of other African immigrants like Mamadou across the country who now use free conference call services to host debates, share news stories, educate and engage the members of their community.

In the Guinean community of New York City, Frequence Ganndal which translates from Fulani (one of the many dialects spoken in Guinea) as “Knowledge Frequency,”  has been leading the way. Ganndal offers news in both French and Fulani and hosts a variety of shows including religious programming.

Within other immigrant communities from French speaking countries across West Africa, The Jacques Roger Show remains a popular program, broadcasting mostly in French and covering issues pertaining to countries from Senegal to Burkina Faso. Its founder, Jacques Roger, is originally from the Ivory Coast and regularly hosts debates between political figures from the numerous countries within the region.

Mamadou, like many other hosts, doesn’t have a journalism background. But he strongly believes what his group brings to the African community is positive. “People want us to broadcast nonstop, and they want more shows.” GuineeView broadcasts a few days a week, several hours a day. Archives of the different shows are posted on their website.