As a young boy, radio fascinated him. And in trying to understand it better grew the interest in it. No wonder, he became an ardent listener.
His life changed in 1999 when he stepped into a radio studio for the first time as he joined Trans World Radio (TWR) as a producer.
As his feet remained steadfast in the broadcasting realm, on that day, Victor Kaonga changed from being a listener into a broadcaster.
With close to two decades in the industry, Kaonga has authored a book titled From a Listener to a Broadcaster. It chronicles his personal journey into the broadcasting world.
“It is basically a personal story of how I transitioned from a mere listener when I was in primary school which is 27 years ago, to where I am now, helping in generating content for broadcast and providing the same service to others who are listening to the radio now. The book also talks of highlights as well as challenges of me being on the other end,” he says.
The book, which has just been launched, is also historical, academic as well as institutional in nature. It tells a story which delves into the journey of TWR in Malawi.
“Out of the 26 chapters, there are two narrating the institutional journey of TWR, focusing on its history as regards where it came from which was done by Pearson Chunga, a pioneer staff of the radio and another one done by myself,” says Kaonga.
Scanning through the 210-page book, one is bound to be moved by insightful highlights therein.
For instance, there is a chapter looking at the media situation in Malawi, giving readers an understanding of where the country is coming from in terms of the electronic media in particular.
“There are several highlights in the book. I am documenting, in summary the history of 38 radio stations in Malawi—when they started broadcasting, from which point of origin in terms of the signal and ownership which is information that many people do not know,” states Kaonga.
It also has a chapter on 10 annoying things on radio which are based on his personal experiences working for radio.
“There are situations where it is allowable to speak over a song, but sometimes it is just trendy for people to speak over vocals forgetting music is speech and you do not interrupt it, the Ls and Rs, unnecessary programme repeats, worse off, it its dated, you hear it is January, but you are hearing it in April.
“I believe it is a chapter that both broadcaster and listeners will find interesting as it speaks to both,” he explains.
One of the things he has done as a broadcaster, in which he takes pride, is to be the first to interview Mama Cecelia Tamanda Kadzamira.
“For most Malawians, we have high respect for Mama Cecelia Tamanda Kadzamira and it was not until 2006 that she granted her first interview in Malawi and that was after 30 years.
“She said it herself and she granted it to TWR with me doing it. As such, I am writing about my chat with her and what it took to interview her, among others. I find it a highlight because after that, I have come to see many journalists interviewing her,” says Kaonga with a coy toothy smile.
But how did it all begin?
He says: “The idea to write came into mind in 2005, but I did not really start writing until a little later. I was challenged by one of my lecturers in 2007, but it was until 2009 that I started writing a little chapter.”
In terms of availability, people can get the book from TWR offices in Blantyre and Lilongwe
“It is not yet online and we are still making arrangements with other outlets like Bible Society of Malawi and Word Alive Bookshops, but the books are available,” says Kaonga.
One of the first readers of the insightful book, Dalitso Nkunika, affirms that it “is an inspiring book for someone who believes in humble beginnings.”
She says: “Starting from the overview of broadcasting in Malawi and how it has grown to the life of the writer how he began his career, it is a true reflection of bigger results out of humble beginnings.
“The book offers a great opportunity to appreciate what might normally be taken for granted by the listener or indeed the broadcaster on the other hand in terms of expectations and communication, among others, be valued at each stage.
Kaonga has no background in journalism despite being passionate about the radio and only experience has taken him this far.
“The years before 1998, Malawi did not have well-established journalism schools where some of us interested in such could go and study. So I studied Social Science at Chancellor College and worked elsewhere before I joined TWR. Basically, TWR is my first place of work in the broadcasting circles and I joined in 1999.
“I did a lot of on-the-job training in terms of production and presentation which I focused on the first years here after being hired as a producer and management trainee,” he narrates.