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Songa started a radio station at 22

By Kyle Duncan Kushaba

Added 9th July 2018 11:17 AM

Songa, from a young age, was a different type of child - the one who always wanted to create things out of nothing.

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Songa, from a young age, was a different type of child - the one who always wanted to create things out of nothing.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP | BROADCASTING

Entrepreneurship can be an innate skill for some people, while others pick it up later in their lives. For Songa, at an early age of 16, he was sure he would never be employed in his underdeveloped hometown of Kabale.

However, without money and full of wit, Songa, now 25, owns the popular broadcasting station K-Town Radio.


Humble beginnings

Born Songa Musa Vladimir in Rutenga cell, Kekuubo-Nyabikoni Parish in the heart of Kabale town, Songa was raised by his two loving parents: Hakizimana JMV and Joselyn Uwamahirwe.

Songa, from a young age, was a different type of child - the one who always wanted to create things out of nothing.

He reminisced his early childhood adventures in Kabale Primary school where he “used to like fixing broken radios and television remotes”. His father was amazed by his mechanical ability, that he even  bought him a computer in Primary Seven.

“I was so excited, that I started teaching myself how to play games and make drawings on the computer.”

 

Founder and CEO of K-Town Radio, Songa Musa Vladimir


Songa also gives credit of his broadcasting beginnings to the neighborhood music producer, DJ Nesta, who helped install programmes in his computer and taught him how to make beats and voice-overs to songs.

“Going to his studio every day after school to see him work was very interesting. I think that’s how I got so creative.”

When Songa joined Kigezi High School for his Senior One, he surrounded himself with friends who shared his love for music. He sampled them some of his original beats and awed his early supporters with his genuine and organic musical style. His friends immediately started writing songs with him which he produced during school holidays.

Songa and his friends quickly became popular in Kigezi High School and adopted a nickname: “Songwyne”, still known up to date.

By Senior Three, the aspring DJ had become the new kid on the block in Kabale town and had started making money promoting local artistes who approached him for his music production skills.

“I recorded so many hit songs at my studio. From 2010 up to 2015 I was perhaps the best producer Kabale had ever seen. I produced so many artistes such as Amani Amaniga, Fact Zamani, Snazz, Nelo and so many other Kabale household names.”

He added video directing and editing to his musical production and gave services to artistes big or small to record music and videos within a space of a week.


Getting into broadcasting

In early 2015, Songa had produced multiple hits and wanted to tap into a larger audience. He acquired a small transmitter which illegally transmitted their music within a kilometer radius around Kabale town. 

“We had no frequency approved by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) but we were determined to broadcast anyway. So we gave ourselves a name and a frequency not knowing we were breaking rules per say.

"We named our new radio station 99.9 FM K-Town Radio and for a year nobody seemed to bother until a friend of mine helped me acquire a much stronger transmitter.

"Afterwards, almost the whole district was receiving us and that’s when I talked to some of my friends who had talent for radio to go on air and serve the nation for free because I had no money to pay them.”

K-Town Radio quickly gained a following of youth across the district and aired topics relatable to young adults.

Gradually gaining a large market share of the radio industry with no legal base or label, competitors feared the growing popularity of K- Town Radio. However, Songa continued to build his radio station and even began collecting radio adverts for as low as sh2,000 for different organisations.

With the little money from advertising, Songa began to build a base and label for their trending radio station in Kekuubo, but were abruptly shut down by UCC officials.


The ultimate test

After being closed, Songa feared his dream as a radio producer would go down the drain. But after employing and training several youths at his station, he believed his dreams were far from over. 

In seeking ways to rekindle K-Town Radio, Songa approached district youth counselor Kassim Kamugisha, who was a fan of the station. His position built a strong case for Songa and his team, which led to an appeal to the Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, whose support for youth gave K-Town Radio a lifeline.

They were back on air!

After a year on lockdown, K-Town Radio returned to serve the youths of Kabale and its environs. However, UCC denied K-Town Radio a frequency license. Although, the support of the Prime Minister allowed Songa to get back on air, without a legal license for operations, they would face many challenges in the future.

Currently, Songa and his team of 24 youths, whom the radio employs as presenters, news anchors and sales representatives, are still waiting for a license approval to legally operate.

However, the passion for radio broadcasting and entrepreneurship still drives Songa and his team. This is to show the ultimate success that youth can achieve from innovation and drive.

K-Town Radio makes little profit from operations.

A huge chunk of advertising revenue barely covers the costs of labour and the little remuneration given to their staff may persuade highly skilled presenters to relocate to larger radio stations with large financial backing.  

Inside the studio of K-Town Radio


Fear of losing their jobs at the station, Songa still dreams of relocating to a more conducive environment to run his station. But until then, financial barriers prevent K-Town Station from suceeding further.


Moving on

Songa is determined to get an authorised frequency for K-Town Radio to operate without fear and purchase a bigger transmitter to cover Western Uganda.

He also wants to create a television station to accompany K-Town Radio to ultimately dominate his region with the talent of his team and his leadership.


WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT SONGA

 

 

Naboth Teriyeitu, news anchor
I started with Songa in 2015 and I must say I was so raw, I had no idea how radio works, but had the passion for it. Songa has trained me so well that right now, I am a world class Runyakitara news anchor. He made sure to teach me all of his radio production skills, so when absent, I can handle anything by myself. Songa is one of a kind.

 

 

 

 

 

Rebecca Katabazi, receptionist
Songa is a calm boss, though very serious at work. For him, there are no excuses when it comes to work, so each one must play their part. He has taught us so much, he is not selfish and is always reachable when you need him. I think we are going to go far with him as our boss. All I ask is for God to keep him safe and give him more knowledge.

 

 

 

 

Muhangi Anderson aka Andy Wine Bikumu, presenter ‘Ryarengarita' show
I am a pioneer here. I started from scratch with Song Wine from the recording studio and before we knew it, the whole of Nyabikoni was listening to the boy's music. He has been so good to me and what I like most about him is his listening ear. He doesn’t ignore any suggestions from any of us. He made me station manager and I represent K-Town Radio at every party we are invited to. Actually, people think that the radio is mine because when you meet Songa you might mistake him for a cleaner around here because he is so small and quiet at the same time.

 

 

 

 

Nasasira Friendly aka DJ Friendly, presenter Sports Kabaka
I was the first guy to give sports on the radio and Songa handpicked me from another radio station because he knew my passion for football. This job has helped buy a few goats and I am planning to buy cows soon. This guy is God-sent and has made me a professional presenter. I don’t even remember the last time I bought lunch while in Songa’s presence. He is that good to us. However broke we are, we are still very happy.

 




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