A buzz of excitement has swept across the art landscape following news that the country is set to have the first all-art radio station called Story Club FM.
The project is being championed by literary guru and book publisher Shadreck Chikoti who said the radio station represents a revolutionary idea meant to celebrate, promote and elevate art in Malawi.
He said the space has been designed for art lovers, thinkers and thought leaders and it will also be used to promote Malawi’s culture and identity.
“At Story Club, we believe that art is the backbone of development and that no country can develop without arts. Art forms the base and template for all that there is. This project wants to put deliberate efforts to celebrate artists just like other countries do with their artists,” said Chikoti.
According to Chikoti, the Story Club FM will initially just cover the Central Region, but will later expand to other parts of Malawi. He said at the moment all equipment has been installed and they are just waiting for the Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority to allocate them a frequency to roll out.
He could not be drawn to comment on the cost of the project, but described it as huge. The radio station has so far hired a workforce of 25 people and over 100 consultant artists.
Reacting to the development, writer Tionge Kalua-Mhone said artists have been sidelined for too long as they did not have a platform where they could celebrate and showcase their talent. She said the coming of the radio station is a huge step in the promotion of art.
“There are a lot of artists out there who are struggling to make a breakthrough. They are failing to do so due to lack of a strategic platform where they can show their potential. This has led to many talents being killed before they blossom,” she said.
Author and poet Ndongolera Mwangupili said local literature does not get enough space on most local radio stations which is unfortunate. He said it is time art was considered as one sector which can help boost the economy.
He said: “This is rare as it is the first radio station dedicated to arts in Malawi. This project, therefore, requires the support of different stakeholders in the art industry. As artists, we are stuck trying to promote our art and this radio station will help us a great deal.”
The Story Club FM is an extension of Story Club, a literary platform that was formed by Chikoti and other Malawian writers in 2013. The club has its headquarters in Lilongwe where it has its café in Area 47, a popular venue for art events.