This radio was hand-built by 16-year-old Kelvin Doe to broadcast news to Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone

Across the world, radio is the medium that reaches the widest audience, with 2 billion receivers in use and nine out of 10 people tuning in at least once a week in countries as diverse as the UK and Sierra Leone. In the latter, where nearly two-thirds of the population cannot read and Internet reaches only one percent of homes, most citizens rely on radio to keep up on current events. There are 64 officially registered stations in the country, the most popular being government-controlled Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service and Radio Maria, run by the Catholic Church.

Then there are stations like Kelvin Doe’s. Three years ago, the then 13-year-old began rummaging through the trash cans of Freetown, Sierra Leone, looking for spare electronic parts. Over time, he found enough pieces to scrape together a homemade amplifier, a mixer, a generator, and eventually an entire radio station. Now aged 16, he broadcasts to his community under the nickname General Focus, with three journalists helping him provide music, comedy and news features. “During the news sections, we will take the newspaper and the magazines for the day and read them out,” he explains. It is a pirate radio station that runs on hijacked frequencies, but, for now, Kelvin is free to make and distribute information on the topics he really cares about: local football matches and educational news from the United States of America

From the pages of COLORS #86 - Making the News.