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What you didn’t know about KBC Newsroom of late 90s before FM stations happened



By Phil Etale

While learning from the best, I had to be obedient in order to tap from the wells of wisdom. As a budding journalist, I gave my best as the BEST showered me with ideas and knowledge on how to fit in the field. Journalism is not for the faint hearted, you got to have the courage to trade your skills.

So at the state broadcaster, we had Mr. Kipserem Maritim as the Editor-in-Chief and Mr. Hiram Mucheke, his deputy. Inside the newsroom, we had those old windows computers and two printers that we had to queue to print a story. Right at the entrance, there was a small office manned by a Mr. Wesah, a man who loved his light blue sweater.

former KBC announcer Edward Kadilo

In the room was a fax machine that ran 24/7. It is where we received news from KNA and Reuters. Veteran broadcasters Khamisi Themo who was in charge of Swahili desk and Ngulamu Mwaviro sat adjacent to each other. Newsroom like is supposed to be was like a marketplace. People moving up and down and noise was the order of the day. At the far back was the sports desk.

Fred Nyongesa Ongalo was ever busy, he was not knowledgeable with computer matters and so he religiously used an old typewriter to do his scripts. The noise from the typewriter could be annoying sometimes but that was the way of life. Jack Oyoo Sylvester, Joseph Onyango and Omole Asiko were his colleagues on the sports desk.

Mzee Jacob William Maunda father to my friend Urbanus Maunda preceded doing dawn news, so he reported to work at 4am and left after 9am news bulletin on Swahili service as did Agawo Patrobas on the English service. Jonah Ngare always went through the Swahili scripts together with Esther Munguti. Anaclet Araba, Laban Wangila Lusweti et’al did translation. They were experts and did it so well.

Esther Githui was ever smart and always sat pensiveky waiting for scripts to be ready to go and read news as did Badi Muhsin who loved chewing khat. Badi was ever jolly. He like telling those ancient stories and mostly about his native Kitui. Mustafa Idd, Steve Mrima, Eric Ponda, Dr. Mustafa Ali, Dancan Irungu et’al were among those who inspired me alot.

Yusuf Ali Dido and Tom Indimuli were in charge of business news and their office meters away from the newsroom. It was like an SQ of the newsroom. Ondeko Aura was ever running in the newsroom to ensure nothing went wrong. Kimeli Arap Kemei had his phone on police speed dial. He mastered the art of crime reporting, “akithibitisha kisa hicho mkuu wa police eneo la Nairobi Bw. Mwathe amesema…” that was Kimeli for you.

Richard Chacha (the current Mombasa County communications chief) never sat at one place. One could think newsroom was his living room. Daniel Korir was a polite but serious man. Ellen Wanjiru upon her return from the Mombasa bureau came with Kiswahili cha Pwani. She was hardworking.

Recently, I was at KBC and pipped through the newsroom, I can tell you it has really changed. My brother Samuel Kang’ethia Maina is the Editor-in-Chief deputized by veteran Kennedy Osir.

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