Frank Ochieng is the Operations Manager and head of News at our partner radio station 99.8 Step FM in Mbale district, Eastern Uganda

Frank holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalisms and Mass communication.

He has worked with the Media for over 12 years in the areas of Reporting, Editing, Anchoring and youth mentorship.

Frank is one of the pioneer mentors and continues to work with the Community Media and Youth Voices for Development project that has seen over 250 young people trained and equipped with Media literacy skills for development.

Frank has passion for society development more so through empowering the populace to make informed decisions.

Our community engagement team had a chat with Frank and documented the following.

 What is your Name

My name is Frank Ochieng

When did you start your engagement as a Radio mentor with CEMCOD?

My journey as a radio mentor with CEMCOD started in 2014.

What prompted you to become a Radio Mentor?

The desire to serve society well by acquiring more skills that I saw coming if I joined the CEMCOD team.

How would you describe your role as a CR (Community Reporter) Mentor?

Engaging, interesting and successful.

What has been your most interesting moment as a Radio Mentor?

2018, when I interfaced with the community reporters discussing story ideas and IT matters. The community reporters showed great understanding and quick grasp which meant a lot to me as a mentor.

What would you describe as your lowest moment serving as a Radio Mentor?

When I received reports that some of the community reporters were finding difficulty accessing some information in community for reason some people especially duty bearers were looking at them as a threat.

Can you mention to us one story or issue that a community reporter did/covered and you felt satisfied? What was the major issue? How was it solved? What would you say was the major impact of this story?

A defilement story in Namanyonyi subcounty in mbale district in 2018. A 12-year-old girl was defiled by her uncle who society expected to act as security to the minor.

When the story went on air, the authorities swung into action, the man was arrested and sanity returned in that it acted as a deterrent measure to other would be offenders in the area.

Are there any challenges you have met working as a Radio Mentor? What are they? How have you been able to overcome some of them?

Failure by some community reporters to discern between relevant and irrelevant content. I have always solved this by continuously guiding such community reporters and positive results come forward.

Anything you have achieved as a result of serving as a Radio Mentor? Tell us about it?

Improved my story-telling skills, this as a result of the numerous capacity building workshops organized by CEMCOD.

 It has also helped me check the taste of stories community wants to hear because most of the stories filed by the community reporters are really appealing and speak to real community needs.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your work as (i) a journalist (ii) a Radio Mentor?

The outbreak of covid-19 limited my ability to tell more stories more so owing to the restrictions that came with it ie. Limitation in movement and free interaction with sources.

As a journalist at times you reached the field and sources looked at you as a serious stranger who perhaps needed to be reported to the covid-19 task force for quarantine. Sections of the population were therefore not comfortable to interact with you.

The outbreak also limited my free face-face interaction with the community reporters since everyone got suspicious of the other’s health condition and so social distancing became the language of the day.

Are there issues regarding COVID-19 that your community and/or listeners raised and were most concerned about? What are these issues?

Failure by government to address hunger crisis during lockdown.

Continuous movement of heavy truck drivers in the area.

Failure by authorities to effectively implement the presidential directives on prevention of spread of coronavirus.

In what ways were you helping your community of listeners prevent further spread of the Corona virus?

Regularly reminding them on the preventive mechanism like persistent washing of hands and use of sanitizers alongside not touching the T-Zone.

Any specific plans for the future? Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

Touching more people’s hearts through unleashing relevant communication. This may include taking up new dynamism in journalism not to exclude latest technological advancements.

What advise can you give to young people that listen to your radio station every day?

I encourage them to continue listening as they work hard since information is a strong tool in life.