Community Media/STORY WORKSHOP/Workshop Report/April 3 09

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  • Workshop Report (March 30-April 3 2009), Kayesa inn, Mchinji
  • Compiled By Charles Simbi, Scriptwriting Manager, Story Workshop Education Trust, Malawi, April 2009
  • Phone: + 265 (0) 1 821 335/657
  • Fax: + 265 (0) 1 820 263
  • Email1:
  • Email2: </center>

1.0 Introduction

From Monday the 30 0f March to Friday the 3rd of April Story workshop facilitated a message development and radio production workshop for the Maimwana mother and health radio program. The workshop was held at Kayesa inn in Mchinji. The workshop brought together 2 representatives from Mudzi Wathu Community Radio Station, 2 representatives from the District Hospital, 2 representatives from MaiMwana Project and 3 representatives from communities in Mchinji.  In addition, Story Workshop brought 3 trainers with a range of skills such as production, editing, content development, etc.

The main aims of the workshop were:

  • developing a format for the weekly radio shows
  • identifiying and exploring the issues that need to be addressed
  • gathering material for 4 radio programs
  • developing a message/program guide for the first 20 programs.
  • identififying further support needs that can be fulfilled by Story Workshop.

2.0 Workshop Summary

2.1 The First and Second Day

After the welcoming remarks and introductions there were discussions on the program and other housekeeping issues. This was followed by different presentation on why the Maimwana Project iniatiated the the radio program and a presentation on the activities of Maimwana.

2.1.1 Why Radio

Mike from Maimwana made a presentation on why Mwaimwana decide to come up with the radio program. He said community needs have shown that there is need for a more specific behaviour change communication strategy to supplement the existing activities. Radio has the potential to reach communities with messages that can increase the awareness and change the attitudes of community members in relation to mother and child health. These changes, supported by existing community mobilization and facility-based interventions, have a great potential to improve mother and child health and reduce mortality. The Maimwana Project has sites in almost all communities in Mchinji but still there are some areas that are outside Maimwana catchment area and it was envisaged that the radio program would reach out to these areas. The radio program would also facilitate dioalogue among families and community on child and martenal health. He said the radio program would be a communication tool that would reach all Maimwana sites with important information and announcements on mother and child health issues.

2.1.2. Maimwana Project

Then a presentation on the Mwaimwana project by Florida who was assisted by Mike followed. Participants learnt that Maimwana is a research project on martenal and child health that combines health facility and community based interventions to achieve their Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5 for maternal and child mortality respectively. MaiMwana Project has been implementing these approaches in collaboration with Mchinji District Hospital for 5 years.

2.1.3 The Mother and Child Issues

The Maimwana project presentation was followed by a plenary discussion which was aimed at identifying all issues and factors related to maternal health. To kickstart the discussion the participants from the District health office and Maimwana made presenatations on the key drivers of mother and child health issues in Malawi and Mchinji in particular.

The community representatives had their input and a long and lively discussion followed. At the end of the morning session the plenary had come up with a final list of issues from which messages for the radio program were to be derived from. Discussion centred on the following Safe Motherhood and Integrated Management of Childhood Illness issues:

  1. Breastfeed infants exclusively for at least four months and, if possible, up to six months.
  2. Starting at about six months of age, feed children freshly prepared energy and nutrient-rich complementary foods, while continuing to breastfeed up to two years or longer.
  3. Ensure that children receive adequate amounts of micro-nutrients (in particular, Vitamin A and iron), either in their diet or through supplementation.
  4. Promote mental and social development by responding to a child’s need for care through talking, playing and providing a stimulating environment.
  5. Take children as scheduled to complete a full course of immunizations (BCG, DPT, OPV and measles) before their first birthday.
  6. Dispose of feces, including children’s feces, safely. Wash hands after defecation, before preparing meals and before feeding children.
  7. Protect children in malaria-endemic areas by ensuring that they sleep under insecticide-treated bed nets.
  8. Adopt and sustain appropriate behavior regarding prevention and care for HIV/AIDS affected people, including orphans.
  9. Continue to feed and offer more fluids, including breast milk, to children when they are sick.
  10. Give sick children appropriate home treatment for infections.
  11. Take appropriate actions to prevent and manage child injuries and accidents.
  12. Prevent child abuse and neglect and take appropriate action when it has occurred.
  13. Ensure that men actively participate in providing childcare and are involved in the reproductive health of the family.
  14. Recognize when sick children need treatment outside the home and seek care from appropriate providers.
  15. Follow the health worker’s advice about treatment, follow-up and referral. Ensure that every pregnant woman has adequate antenatal care. This includes having at least four antenatal visits with an appropriate health care provider and receiving the recommended doses of the tetanus toxoid vaccination. The mother also needs support from her family and community in seeking care at the time of delivery and during the postpartum and lactation period. It is important for all families to be able to recognize the warning signs of problems during pregnancy and childbirth and to have plans and resources for getting immediate skilled help if problems arise.
  16. A skilled birth attendant, such as a doctor, nurse or trained midwife, should check the woman at least four times during every pregnancy and assist at every birth.
  17. All pregnant women need particularly nutritious meals and more rest than usual throughout the pregnancy.
  18. Alcohol, poisons and pollutants are especially harmful to pregnant women and young children.
  19. Physical abuse of women and children is a serious public health problem in many communities. Abuse during pregnancy is dangerous both to the woman and the foetus.
  20. Girls who are educated, healthy and have a good diet during their childhood and teenage years will have fewer problems in pregnancy and childbirth.

Every woman has the right to health care, especially during pregnancy and childbirth. Health care providers should be technically competent and should treat women with respect.

2.1.4. The Message Matrix

After discussing and deliberating on the issues, it was now time to develop a Messages Matrix that would later guide the Radio Program Core team in developing the Radio Program Matrix. The issues as listed above could not go into the programs and the matrix was to explain the issues further to include factors that influence negative behaviours and the consequences of such negative behaviours, to identify factors that can contribute to and reinforce positive behaviours and to highlight the benefits of adopting and adhering to positive behaviours.

The rest of the first day and the whole of the second day were dedicated to the development of the matrix. The participants worked on the matrix in plenary the rest of the first day before splitting into two groups on the second day. Each group was composed of a member from Mudzi wathu radio station, The District Health office, Maimwana and Story Workshop. The matrix has four columns. The first column lists the issues. The second column lists negative behaviours/practices while the third column lists the possible consequences of the negative behaviours. The fourth column lists the positive or the expected behaviours while the last column lists the benefits of practicing the positive/expected behaviours. (See Appendix 1)

The discussions and debates that ensued during the making of the Messages Matrix unpacked the mother and child health issues and increased the producers’ and the community representatives’ understanding of mother and child health issues at hand.

Contributions on the Matrix from the three community representatives gave insight to the District Health Officials and Maimwana staff on some of the cultural and traditional issues affecting mother and child health in Mchinji.

2.2. The Third Day

The the third day started with a recap of the previous day’s work, some housekeeping issues and the day’s business was introduced and any adjustments to the program were agreed upon.

=2.2.1. Radio Formats

On the the third day day the producers were introduced to to different radio formats. The participants were asked to name different radio formats that they know. The idea was to move the participants from what they know to what they don’t. Most participants could only describe the programs but could not attach a name to any particular format.

The participants were then introduced to some radio Formats like:

  • Drama (soap opera)
  • Magazines (mixture of all formats)
  • Features
  • Documentaries
  • Panel discussions

After going through all the formats participants settled for the magazine format as the best for the proposed radio program. It was felt that this format would give the producers flexibility as it can take different forms and incorporate other formats like drama, panel discussions and quizzes etc. Therefore, the producers were to be trained in the production of a radio magazine program. Among other things the Presenters/producers had to understand that a radio Magazine has a variety of formats, variety of topics, variety of contributors, and presentation styles.

2.2.2. Components of the Magazine Program

The participants then brainstormed on the different components that can be part and parcel of the proposed radio magazine program. Some of the components mentioned were:

  • Debates
  • reports
  • Panel discussions
  • Vox pop
  • Interviews
  • Drama
  • Listeners letters
  • Competitions
  • Weather
  • Sports
  • Music
  • Listener Phone-in
  • Diaries
  • Celebrity gossip
  • Dedications
  • Community news and announcements
  • Mystery guests
  • Quiz
  • Jingles
  • Poetry
  • Human interest stories and many more.

2.2.3. Interview Training

Emphasis was put on how the producers could collect interviews from the field. Among other things the producers learned that before doing any interviews they should;

  1. Know their subject matter by researching on the issue
  2. Know the interviewee, be it a celebrity, expert or ordinary person
  3. Know their role as a mouthpiece for the listener. They are not stars but servants of the listeners.
  4. Know their listeners, who are they targeting, the youth or the aged. Their interest and information needs.
  5. Know the purpose of the interview. Is it to
    1. Enlighten
    2. Gather opinions
    3. Convey information
    4. Entertain
    5. Create awareness
    6. Move
    7. Change attitudes etc.

They were taught do's and don’ts for doing interviews. To first and foremost listen to the interviewees as you are interviewing them.

Do's and Don’ts

  • Ask open (strong) questions avoid too many yes /no questions
  • Ask one question at a time Avoid multiple questions
  • Get facts right Avoid jargon
  • Build a logical structure Avoid flattery
  • Keep in control Avoid leading questions
  • Define Abbreviations Avoid how do/did you feel
  • Ask follow up questions Avoid wide open questions
  • Interrupt when necessary Avoid too many numbers
  • Get emotions e.g. (superlative) what
  • Was the best/Worst……? (action) what did you do when….

2.2.4. Program Christening

Participants were asked to suggest a name for the program based on the objectives of the Maimwana Project and the issues in the Messages Matrix. Here are the names that were suggested:

  1. M’mera Mpoyamba (A good plant starts from the nursery)
  2. Tiganize kaye (Lets take time to think)
  3. Lende n’kukankhana. (A good turn deserves another)
  4. Wakutsina khutu ndi mnansi (He who gives you a tip, is a true acquaintance)
  5. Tichengete mudzi (Nurturing our village)
  6. Muumodzi muli mphamvu(Unity is strength)
  7. Tigawane (Let’s share)
  8. Ayiwala (They have forgotten)
  9. Timvane (Lend an ear)
  10. Ziri pano (It’s here)
  11. Phukusi la moyo (Bag of Life)
  12. Thumba lamoyo (Bag of life)
  13. Kodi mwamva (Have you heard)
  14. kandimverere (Hear it for me)
  15. Idalira pataning’a (A sting in the tail)

2.2.5. Choosing the Name

The participants then voted for what they thought was the best Name. Each participant had three votes for the three rounds of voting. At the end of the three rounds of voting two (2) names got the most votes: Phukusi la moyo had 9 votes and Tichengete mudzi had 10.

Participants were asked to discuss why they thought the program should be named after one of the two suggested names. The participants gave the following reasons for the program to be named Tichengete mudzi (Nurturing our village)

  • If everybody adheres to all the positives behaviours that the program will promote then we will have healthy and prosperous communities
  • Improved maternal and child health is key to community development
  • It is women and children that make up the village and if these are health then community will be health
  • If we protect children from disease and abuse then we will have prosperous communities

Phukusi la moyo (A Bag of life); this is an abridgement of the Chichewa proverb Phukusi la moyo umasunga wekha; which literary means everyone should jealously protect her/his own bag of life. Here are some of the reasons that participants gave for choosing Phukusi la moyo as an appropriate name for the radio program

  • The program aims at reducing maternal and child mortality rates and this is teaching people how to safeguard their bag of life
  • The program is like a bag of life which will be opened to dish out tips and excerpts on life
  • The program will give people a voice to open their bags of life and seek solutions to their problems

Finally the participants agreed on Phukusi la moyo as the name of the program

2.2.6. Programme Matrix

To make sure that the programs contain the correct information and that the producers are properly guided on what should go into each program so that the program achieves its objectives, the participants developed a program matrix the first 12 programs. The first column of the matrix is the program number. The second column is the theme or the issues under discussion in that particular day’s program while, the third program is the communication object which are the expected outcomes, the fourth column are the target audience and the last column is for the likely interviewees(See Appendix 2)

2.3. Day Four

2.3.1 Field Recording

By the fourth day the Phukusi la moyo program was now taking shape. The format was known, the name created and the program matrix ready. It was now time for the producers to gather the materials for the first program. They went out to interview different stakeholders including the District Health Officer and The Maimwana Program Manager. The whole morning was reserved for content collection. The Producers later visited a nearby village which is host to one of the Maimwana Women groups to record songs and interviews for the first four programs. The signature tune of the Phukusi lamoyo program was created by the village women and was also recorded

The producers also interviewed some Maimwana and district health officials as well as women group representatives. The producers were on their way to producing their first Phukusi lamoyo program.

2.3.2 Factors That Can Make the Radio Programme a Success

In the afternoon of the fourth day the two Mudzi Wathu Radio producers and the Story Workshop Radio Production Facilitator were busy working in the studio while the rest of the participants discussed the factors that would make the program a success. This was to look at the roles and responsibilities of all the stakeholders. It was agreed that all stakeholders have a role to play in making the program a success. The discussison was summarized in the following table:

Responsible Organisation
Publicity and promotion Mudzi Wathu Radio Staion

MaiMwana Project

DHO & MaiMwana

Producing and airing program promos and jingles on Mudziwathu Radio Station

Distribution of posters.

Sending messages through project staff

Spreading news of the program in district meetings. And health facilities and during district assembly meetings e.g. (ADC/ VDC)

Quality Programming Mudzi Wathu Radio Station Producers

Community members


Getting feedback on the program from listeners.

Incorporating listener input in the production of the programs

To input on the program content. Write, respond to contest questions. Contribute songs, poems,and foltales on mother and child health.

Coordinatination of all activities of the program

Listener Incentives MaiMwana Project

Mudzi wathu

Giving out T-Shirts winners of listener contests

Listeners having their letters aired on radio.

Giving the listeners a chance to go on air will also motivate them

Strong Content Team District Health Officer

MaiMwana Project

Women Groups

Radio Producers

Mudzi wathu

Will bring Health expertise

Representing the interest of Maimwana Project will also bring Community mobilization expertise

Represent interest of the target group

Program Production.

Monitoring and Evaluation


Mudziwathu Radio Station


Monitored Listening patterns through Listener Club Registers and listener club reports

Tracing impact through testimonies, case studies, and.basic numbers of listeners and research data from MaiMwana

Random interviews with listeners by mudziwathu,

Listener letters and phones

Summaries of Health facilities records


Partnership with other stakeholders


Women groups, Mudzi wathu, MaiMwana

Identification of relevant stakeholders

Terms of references with relevant stakeholders

Evaluation of partnership

The discussion on the success factors was followed by a discussion on how the program would work with Listener Clubs.

2.3.3 Listening Clubs Why Have Listener Clubs

Most participants had an idea of what a listening club is; therefore the plenary was aked to brainstorm on why they think the program should have listener clubs? The participants discussed that the listening clubs will;

  • Give listeners chance to participate in the program
  • Give listeners a chance to participate in the making of the programs
  • Encoure people to listen to the program in groups
  • Encoure discussion on program content among listeners
  • Give listeners chance to give feedback on the program
  • Enable listeners to contribute to Monitoring and Evaluation of program
  • Enable program have a known and traceable number of program listeners
  • enhance community ownership of the program Working with Listening Clubs

The plenary agreed that:

  • Listening clubs will use their own radios to listen to the programs, others will use radios distributed by Mudzi Wathu Radio Station
  • The members of listening clubs will be listening to the programs together and later discuss the content of the programs
  • Clubs will be visited by Maimwana staff atleast twice a month The Listening Clubs

There will be 200 clubs made up of 10 to 30 members. The clubs will be made up of both men and women. Roles of the Listening Clubs

The listening clubs will listen to the programs and discuss the following;

  • What they liked about the program, what entertained them
  • What information they can use in their lives
  • What information was not clearly presented and need revisiting
  • What aspects of the program need to be changed
  • What should be included in the program to make it more entertaining, informative and educative
  • Listening clubs will record what they have learned from the program,what messages they have used in their daily lives, as well as the key points of their discussions
  • Listeners will submit a monthly report to Maimwana office
  • Identify people that can participate in the programs Incentives for the Listening Clubs
  • T- shirt that will be won through radio listener contest
  • To have their voices heard on radio
  • Trainings
  • The positive impact that the program will bring in their lives

2.4. The Fifth Day

2.4.1. Review of Program Making Process

On the fifth day the producers were ready with the first Phukusi la moyo Radio program but before the participants had a chance to listen to the program the producers and all the participants were asked to discuss their experiences of making the program.

“We used to edit in single track only but now we can also edit in multi-track,” Steve one of the Phukusi la moyo producers said.

They had learned different styles of mixing programs, how to gather songs, real stories and how that depended on collaboration of all stakeholders like the women groups, Maimwana staff and the officers from the District Health Office.

Scriptwriting was one of the skills that the producers had to master so that the script links inserts and complement interviews.

“I would have put all the 17 minutes of the DHO’s interview in the program giving no room to other aspects of the program,” Martha, the Phukusi lamoyo female producer explained. “But I have learned to pick only the sections of the interviews that are relevant to the day’s topic.”

They also learned some presentation skills.

“We have learned to speak what we read and not sound like you we are reading a news bulletin.”

They also learned how the two of them can coordinate as they alternate to produce and present the program, how to record choirs or dances and also control sound levels after the program has been mixed down.

2.4.1. Areas for further capacity building

  • The two producers asked for further in how to produce different formats like the panel discussions, debates which can become components of the Magazine.
  • How to handle sensitive interviews and information to avoid being offensive to listeners

2.4.2. Facilitators Assessment of the producers

  • Gladson Makowa, the production facilitator reported that there were minor shortfalls in how the producers handled microphones which allowed unawanted noises to filter through. He also said the producers had problems on how they positioned themselves when recording different things in the field e.g. songs, dances and choirs.

He said he had imparted on the producers some technical aspects of production like scripting writing and editing, mixing of programs and sound control as well as some interviewing techniques. He said the producers picked up the techniques very well. The rest depended on more practice and dedication on the part of the producers Maimwana Observations
  • Mike of Maimwana observed that the approach on the day of the first recording was a bit top-bottom. He asked that next time the approach be the other way, bottom-top. Communities need to be given enough time to prepare and possibly volunteer to do interviews Review of the 1st Program

After sharing their experiences the participants had a chance to listen and reviewed the program and had the following comments:

  • The inclusion of village songs made the program entertaining
  • The program content achieved the objectives the first program
  • The program is attractive; gives you the urge to listen again
  • The program should include announcement that people should write in to give their opinions on what should be included in the programs
  • Include what’s coming in next program
  • Acknowledging the villages from where the songs were recorded
  • The opening statement ended in mid the air, so that has to be redone
  • Distance between presenters should be bridged they should be a connection between the two of them
  • The signature tune is good and summarises what the program is all about. However in need to be redone so that it is accompanied by genuine drums.

The review of the program was followed by a discussion on the time and day of broadcast. The proposal was for Thursday 19:30 in the evening. This proposal was shot down as the plenary argued that women's groups which are also the listener clubs meet in the afternoon so it would be good to have the program on air when the women are meeting so that they can listen as a group and discuss the content of the program.

3. 0 Way Forward

The plenary agreed that the program should come anytime between 15:00 hrs and 16:00 hrs in the afternoon. It was agreed that that Maimwana and Mudziwathu Wathu Radio Station producers should consult to come up with the day of broadcast.

The producers were also to coordinate with Florida of Mwaimwana on their content recording field trips which will be taking place every first and third week of the month.

Finally, the plenary reviewed and approved the Annual Workplan (see Appendix 3 and Appendix 4).

Visits by Story Workshop supervision team has been scheduled to coincide with Core Content team so that program review and preview is done together with the Story Workshop facilitators.