"The radio would be the finest possible communication apparatus in public life, a vast network of pipes. That is to say, it would be if it knew how to receive as well as to transmit, how to let the listener speak as well as hear, how to bring him into a relationship instead of isolating him."
"Der Rundfunk wäre der denkbar großartigste Kommunikationsapparat des öffentlichen Lebens, ein ungeheures Kanalsystem, das heißt, er wäre es, wenn er es verstünde, nicht nur auszusenden, sondern auch zu empfangen, also den Zuhörer nicht nur hören, sondern auch sprechen zu machen und ihn nicht zu isolieren, sondern ihn in Beziehung zu setzen."
"The tragedy is that of expanded communication and diminishing dialogue." The noted Kenyan scholar, Ali Mazrui first said this while hosting the BBC series, "The Africans". Professor Mazrui touched on one of the most underrated gauges of the disparity between the North and the South; the measure of self-expression. It is this lack of understanding that Boutros Boutros Ghali, the former UN Secretary-General, said would pose the greatest threat to world security. It does seem unfortunate that advances in technological hardware have not necessarily meant improved communication or understanding among the peoples of the world ... There is a need then, for another kind of technological revolution. One that does not seek to improve the technology but to distribute it."  
"Die Tragödie ist, dass sich die Kommunikation ausweitet, aber der Dialog schrumpft." Der bekannte kenianische Wissenschaftler, Ali Mazrui, bemerkte dies erstmals als Gastgeber der BBC-Fernsehserie "Die Afrikaner". Professor Mazrui berührte damit eine der am meisten unterschätzten Sperren für Gleichheit zwischen Nord und Süd, das Maß für selbstbestimmten Ausdruck. Der daraus resultierende Mangel an Verständigung, so der ehemalige UN-Generalsekretär Boutros Boutros Ghali, stelle die größte Gefährdung für die Welt-Sicherheit dar. Unglücklicherweise scheinen Fortschritte bei der Entwicklung technischer Gerätschaft nicht einherzugehen mit Verbesserungen bei Kommunikation oder Verständnis zwischen den Völkern der Welt ... Es ist nötig, auf eine andere Art technischer Revolution zu setzen, auf eine, die nicht bloß Technologie verbessert, sondern sie verbreitet."


— just in English because professional storytellers want to be understood widely
— nur auf Englisch, weil sich professionelle Geschichtenerzähler in dieser Sprache verständigen


The Radio Bridge Overseas Manual is intended to be your reference in becoming the storyteller and voice of the South — Africa, Asia and Latin America. Imagine that you are tasked to describe a red apple to a person born blind, in a simple, crisp and precise language that he or she can almost smell it. The approach of RBO is to take the listener by the hand on a tour of your experience and provide a scenario, give answers and pass on a message in a critical programme with participative interaction between producers and the audience.
The RBO storyteller holds the listeners' attention from the beginning to the end of the programme without losing their interest.
You are on a mission to investigate on behalf of the listener as opposed to the "KNOW-ALL" approach often used by Northern correspondents. Your stories have to be well researched, verified and balanced.
It is imperative that the RBO author or producer searches for a true image of the facts and views as they may exist on all levels of societies of the South, with no bias towards any powers that may be. The RBO author or producer is the analytical mirror of Africa, Asia and Latin America as well as the facilitator of interaction between South-North and South-South.


To become an RBO-storyteller you should team up with others in order to utilize common technical ressources like a laptop with appropriate software and Internet-access. Apart from such technical co-operation, you may want to discuss your work with other professionals within a group of people you trust. You also may want to interact when it comes to master your technical skills as your own sound-operator. Radio is all about sound. We don’t have pictures or printed words to help us tell the story, just the sounds of people’s voices and their surroundings. Sound brings listeners into our stories, takes them to a place, helps them feel the events we describe. It’s a powerful thing if gathered well and used correctly. Click on "
B-Side" to receive advice on how to work with sound. Click on "AVS4YOU User Guides" to receive advice on how to download and to handle audio editing software.


The RBO storyteller must be able to tell his complete story within five minutes and turn a full circle — addressing the questions: What? How? Why? When? Who? Where? — but must not, as the cliche goes, "chase five rabbits simultaneously" because you will not catch any of them. It is best to target one theme avoiding to overflower it with intertwining verbiage and the obvious so that the audience can easily follow. Showing off your mastery of language, academia and using jaw breakers will impress no one. Use the simple word instead of the farfetched. Your programme should be able to capture the attention and be easily understood by the ordinary housewife, elementary school pupil as well as thrilling for that university professor. You are working with the spoken word which is nutritious for the ear.
The spoken word can be spiced up and actualised with natural sound, and sound effects to take the listener into the story. Once carried on the air waves, the listener cannot refer back to what you said as in the case with the print medium hence the importance of identifying and doing justice to one lead in your story and not crowding it with too many leads, rushing to conclude your story and fill up air time. Once the housewife stops dusting the coffee table and sits on the settee to listen to your programme, Mr. Chitengu's screaming wife and seven children wrestling on the floor fall silent to listen to you while Professor Irmer puts down his pen and wears headphones to hear your story then you have graduated as an RBO producer.


Millions of trees are turned each year into piles of paper at conferences, seminars and workshops in the South and, of course, in the North. Such a gathering may be one ready source of programme material. It is very easy to collate conference speeches and compile what was presented and read out the communique of resolutions. The RBO producer does not take this easy way out. The RBO producer finds out, from a Southern view: Why the conference? Who is involved? What are the participants' personal experiences? What are their opinions in relation to the topic or about socio-political and economic issues and in the context South / North interaction? The RBO producer begins his research from the grassroot weaving upwards. As opposed to shooting the duck, the RBO producer records the quack of the duck, then confronts the hunter, so to speak. RBO does not just scratch the surface.


A typical RBO approach was its coverage of a Northern sponsored conference in Zimbabwe's capital Harare where 22 African countries congregated to map out exchange of information on appropriate technology. The RBO approached the conference by starting off in the remote virgin Zambezi valley in Zimbabwe, part of the rural areas where the majority of the Africans live and where the appropriate technology, promoted by the North, would be applied.


At a cocktail reception for delegates in the evening the RBO producer took a completely different approach and interviewed women participants on the meaning of circumcision in Africa. In other words, a whole series of programmes can be produced from a single gathering, depending on what sources can offer, even apart from their agenda. Of course, excerpts from the actual conference presentations can be used if they highlight a unique thought. The RBO editor always says, "There are thousands of stories out there to be told. In the village, at the bus stop, at a party, provided you have the knack for being a communicator, you are not a shy inhibitive investigator who easily gives up". The curious RBO producer has a nose for stories and therefore feels naked without his recorder. He or she is always on the lookout for material where ever he or she may be.


— Identify a topic from your environment be it political, social, economic, ecological, cultural, musical, or of human interest.
— We are not talking about news-items but about themes which provide a background and may have a "long shelf-life" to be used by interested media organisations even years after production.
— However, we also advise to focus on up-coming news-topics well in advance (elections, international conferences, annual events etc.) so that Editors would be willing to accept a background-story from within your environment once the news hit the headlines.
— Thorough research of the background of the identified topic from all the possible angles is vital and most advisable.
— Ask the questions: What? How? Why? When? Who? Where? — and strive to answer them in your programme.
— Record as much sound as possible both natural and from interviews.
— Don't impose your opinion on an interviewee, help him / her to open him- / herself up to your natural interest. Not you, he / she is the source you want to tap.
— Listen to the recorded material and select all inserts for possible use in your final programme. By doing so you will develop a general idea of the shape and trend of your script.


— Select — along the line of your programme idea — the most gripping inserts. Edit each with the help of a sound production software on your computer. Take note of their duration with cue-words in and out. It may help to prepare for each selected insert one card and shuffel them around until you find a line for your story, reflected in a final chronological order.
— Start to weave your script around these inserts.
— Find a catchy introduction which can draw the attention of your listener and maintain it. Try to take up this introduction at the end and compare your findings — in other words: Close the circle of your story.
— Check both script and inserts until you are satisfied that, when you would listen to the programme on air, you would say I could not have done it better.
— Check again for total duration


— Provide, with the script, a translation of inserts if recorded in any other language.
— Propose your programme to the Editors of media organisations which you may have come to know through Internet-research. Add a copy of your resume. Get familiar with their type and conditions of programming. Confirm what type of sound-file and on what way they can accept your final product, e.g. attachment to an e-mail / download from a website / carried on a CD etc. Try to receive a formal agreement for handling of your material on their side.
— Note on your material your copyright, your name, address, e-mail, bank-connection.


WHY? You archive your programme because:
— you want to re-broadcast it on radio or on Internet
— you want to re-sell it
— you need it as the original source in case of legal complaints
— you may want to re-use parts of it in another programme
— you build a history of your work which can be your reference as a broadcaster / storyteller

You archive all collected content for a programme because:
— you may have to prove that you have selected and edited from recorded interviews or speeches such inserts for your programme which represent the true opinion of the interviewee or speaker, that you did not distort his/her statements
— your interviewee, or a speaker whom you recorded, may have touched issues which could be used in another context, that is in another programme you are going to produce much later, even dealing with a complete different subject
— you may want to use a song or a sound effect recorded during research for this particular programme in another context, that is in another programme

HOW? Archiving of your material should be a regular and essential part of the production process for each of your programmes.
The process of archiving should be realized by someone who is versatile in handling of audio- & text-filing with computer-soft- & hardware; if you can't do it yourself it could be done by your sound-technician.


The archive has 2 types of CD-Roms:
— "A" = INDEX

The text of "A" is searchable and provides for each "B"-CD-Rom a continuous number and under it:
— title of programme
— date & time of broadcast
— name & particulars of broadcasting organisation(s)
— author's name & particulars
A separate text-file offers CATCHWORDS OF THE ACTUAL PROGRAMME. Another separate text-file will contain CATCHWORDS OF CONTENT, that is with regard to material you have on the respective "B"-CD-Rom for possible further use. (The more detailed and precise these catchwords are the better is the chance to find in your growing archive a particular programme or relevant content with the searchword-function!).
Each "B"-CD-Rom carries an outside label with the registered number given in the "A"-CD-Rom (INDEX) plus title, date & time of broadcast, broadcasting organisation(s), author's name. It has at least 3 directories:

mp3-files of all audio-material collected during research for this programme (this will be copied on this CD-Rom once you listen to it during first review. Whilst you listen you dot down catchwords of issues which may be used in another context and which will be archived later as CATCHWORDS OF CONTENT in the searchable "A"-INDEX).

DIRECTORY 2 > mp3-file of your programme's final version

DIRECTORY 3 > text-files with your script and any other relevant text-material (e.g. translations, Internet-ressources, particulars and contacts of your ressource-persons etc.)

Should you be in need of consultation with regard to planned or finished programmes, click here
to contact me. You will receive feedback if your approach is convincing in a professional sense. I am also prepared to offer for selected programmes of my choice an award of 7 US-$ per minute; such programmes being presented — under RBO-copyright — for free download from this website: