Radio Liberia: “What Exactly Are You Eating?”
As a former radio broadcaster this story caught my eye. (And for the record as I type this post I am eating homemade tuna noodle casserole, thanks to my better half, so to be carbed up as we head off later for Madison’s Home Expo which is an annual ritual a couple blocks ago at Monona Terrace.)
But back to the point of this post.
Long-time readers to my blog (or those who have read my book) know how I feel about the relationship between radio broadcasters and their listeners. There is a special intimacy on radio that can never be replicated even on television. Radio is a most unique medium. When I read this news story from Liberia it underscored everything I know to be true about radio–regardless of which side of the radio signal you sit on.
Michael Togba so loved his lunch he wanted the world to know it.
So on a recent Friday afternoon he phoned 96.1 FM disc jockey Ebow Benji, who asked Mr. Togba as tens of thousands of listeners tuned in: “What exactly are you eating?”
“Oh, I just got through eating some potato greens!” Mr. Togba announced, describing a local vegetable stew similar to collards. “And rice. With palm oil.”
“Can you bring me a plate?” the DJ replied.
Here on the sweltering coastline of West Africa, it isn’t enough to just eat your lunch. For maximum enjoyment, you have to talk about it on the radio. At least, that is how committed radio fans pass their lunch hours in Liberia. Every weekday from noon to 1 p.m., DJs here open their phone lines to callers answering the same question: What’s everybody eating?
The segment has a cult following in this nation of four million people. At least three stations interview caller after caller about their midday meal. Sometimes, DJs pose a follow-up question: How spicy is the meal? What restaurant did you buy it from? Did somebody cook it for you?
Many lunch enthusiasts spend their weekdays dialing one station after another, hoping for a chance to make what’s on their plate a national conversation piece. Some tune in online. Several have called from faraway countries, like Morocco and the U.S.