Holiday Interview

'What would you do if it was you?'

Dereje Ayalew (Fana 98.1)


Dereje Ayalew

For the past thirteen years, Dereje Ayalew has been one of the popular radio personalities in Ethiopia. He has hosted several radio shows for years but he is well recognized for a popular Saturday morning show known as Erso Bihonu Min Yadergalu (What Would You Do If It Was You?). Now, he hosts another morning radio show at the same station called Love Time. Dereje is also an author and playwright. A while back, he published his first book—“Chichinia”—a bestseller which depicts the night life in one of Addis’s red-light districts informally referred to as Chichinia.

What is your favorite pastime?

I usually spend my free time catching up on my reading unless I don’t have to spend time with my little daughter. Sometimes, I enjoy the company of my childhood friends.

What is your favorite dish?

I always love to eat whatever I can find with the exception of pumpkin; I don’t like it. But, I could not ever turn away from my shiro (a stew made of powdered beans).

What is your favorite book?

I have many favorite books, but Bealu Girma’s Kadmas Bashager is one book I could not put down. Sebhat Gebregziabher’s novels and Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment are also among my favorite book collection.

Who is the one Ethiopian personality that you admire?

I really admire the late Prime Minster Meles Zenawi. Regardless of his political views or leadership style, he was a man of his own principles. I admire him because he kept life direction and principles from womb to tomb.

Do you have a memorable on-air incident?

It was many years ago that I used to host the Erso Bihonu Min Yadergalu show. The program features a direct telephone conversation with the audience. Someday, while discussing hypothetical marriage infidelity, a woman called me and said to me that she would kill her husband if he betrayed her. I couldn’t stop her because she got so emotional so fast and the whole moment became too intense since domestic violence was a debatable issue among the society. Finally, I took a moment to calm down arguing that what she is suggesting to do will leave her three children without a mother.

What was your feeling during your debut radio show?

Oh, it was uncontrollable. Having left the studio, the first thing I did was to call my family, friends and the people around me to tune into my first on-air radio show.

What is your favorite radio show besides your own?

Meaza Birru’s Saturday afternoon show “Yechewata Engeda” on Sheger FM 102.1 and the Addis 1879 show on FM 96.3.

What kind of car do you like?

I only have a motor game on my cell phone; and I like the red car parked right there (laughs!).

What is the first thing you do when you get out of bed and the last thing when you go to bed?

I pour cold water on my curly hair to wake up properly in morning; and reading is the definitely the last thing I do before I fall asleep.

What do you want to achieve as a radio personality?

I just want to leave up to my name as a radio host that is to be remembered as someone who did something worthy of mention as a radio personality.

 

'Hello ladies'

Frehiwot Tadesse a.k.a. DJ Li


Frehiwot Tadesse

Perhaps because women rappers and radio DJs are rare in Ethiopia, Frehiwot Tadesse has become a phenomenal figure on account of her popular radio show called “Hello Ladies” on FM 97.1. Having faced a number of challenges in her way to her current status, she has now become one of the few best-loved DJs in the town thanks to her five years radio career.

What is your favorite pastime?

I rarely have a free time because I would like to keep myself busy by sticking myself on activities related to my job. If I have to say, may be browsing the internet in search of inputs to help me with my music-mixes is something I do in my spare time. But, sometimes, I would also like to hang out with friends and go on outings.

What is your favorite dish?

Farmer steak, kurt (raw meat) and kitfo (minced beef).

What is your favorite book?

Sydney Sheldon is my favorite author so I like many of his books.

Who is the one Ethiopian personality that you admire?

I admire the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. I think he is one of the best orators I have ever seen in my life. Maybe its because of his zodiac sign–Gemini. They are known to be orators most of the time. I still enjoy his speeches and interviews he did before.

Do you have a memorable on-air incident?

Once, a young boy called on my show and slashed me for my feminism tones. He was so irritating but I couldn’t say anything although I was emotional. I had to calm down. Finally, I got something very nice to tell him in a very modest way then hung up the phone immediately.

What was your feeling during your debut radio show?

It was amazing for me to sit in the studio and pretends to be over confident as a woman DJ. I felt a bit anxious and excited at the same time because I was sitting in the booth where some of my favorite DJs like DJ Kin had once sat down.

What is your favorite radio show besides your own?

I like to listen to Seifu Fantahun’s Tadias Addis.

What kind of car do you like?

Ferrari but I like to drive a Jeep.

What is the first thing you do when you get out of bed and the last thing when you go to bed?

I drink water and I sit down in front of my laptop to surf the web before going to bed.

What do you want to achieve as a radio personality?

I would like to leave my own imprint on live mixing. I would like to pioneer Ethiopian electronic DJ mixing in a style that electronic music is done in the developed world.

 

  • Ethiopica link'

Birhane Nigussie (Zami FM 90.7)


Birhane Nigussie

The name Birhane Nigussie may be a familiar name in connection with a highly acclaimed radio show dubbed Ethiopica Link along with co-hosts Yonas Hagos and Gizachew Eshetu among others. Especially, the shows weekly segment called Wustawaki (The Insider) has gained large traction among the radio audience in recent years mainly for its inside scoop and celebrity gossip which is kind of new to Ethiopia. However, Birhane was also one of the few radio hosts to step inside a studio when the first FM station was opened in the country some 15 years ago. Birhane and his friends, Seifu Fantahun, Surafel Wondimu and the late Zelalem Befekadu a.k.a. DJ “Z” introduced an entertainment radio show named Addis Zema on FM97.1. Birhane is also an director and film producer.

What is your favorite pastime?

Walking, watching movies and meeting up with people for discussions. I also take some me time where I spend a day indoors, privately, re-energizing myself.

What is your favorite dish?

Doro wot (chicken stew garnished with eggs).

What is your favorite book?

I have to say 'Tower in the Sky' by Hiwot Tefera and the autobiography of Bejerond Teklehawariat Teklemariam.

Who is the one Ethiopian personality that you admire?

The late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. He was devoted in struggling for others.

Do you have a memorable on-air incident?

When we started Yefikir Clinic (Love Clinic) segment in our night show some years back, a listener called us from Dessie and told us that she was terribly worried about her boyfriend who repeatedly asked her for sex but when she had no experience of sexual relations before. That was very difficult for us to comment on and we were about to jump her question just beating around the bush when she suddenly stopped us and asked us “Just tell me what to do, yes or no?” It was very difficult. Then we told her to stay firm on what she believed is the right thing.

What was your feeling during your debut radio show?

Oh, it was a long time ago. I remember I was to talk about Lauren Hill, who was a phenomenal musician of that time, and I was a bit timid and felt anxious when the studio light shaded over my desk.

What is your favorite radio show besides your own show?

Mimi Sibhatu’s Sunday morning show known as 'Journalists’ Roundtable' is my favorite because it raises the hardcore issues.

What kind of car do you like?

I don’t have much knowledge about cars. What I know is I need a car to travel and make life easier. I drive any car.

What is the first thing you do when you get out of bed and last thing when you go to bed?

I guess I do what people do before they go to work every day; and I watch movies before going to bed.

What do you want to achieve as a radio personality?

I wish I can have a radio show that is exemplary in its dynamism and proxy to the people since I see nothing new or any greatness in most of the radio shows.

 

'Wez wez wez!'

Kingston Hailu a.k.a. DJ Kingston (Bisrat FM 101.1)


Kingston Hailu

One of the few unusual, yet popular radio DJs in town is DJ Kingston. His morning show that is aired on Bisrat FM 101.1 looks to be gaining popularity. For many people who listened to him on the way to work either in a taxi or in some other form of transportation, Kingston is stereotypically taken to be a bit out of the ordinary. It is all about his catch phrase—now evolving into his brand—Wez Wez Wez, meaning to get a move on or dance. His early morning show during weekdays, where he plays upbeat music and calls on his audiences to dance, is entering the country's radio culture in recent times.

What is your favorite pastime?

I have very little time without work. But I would like to travel to other cities such as Adama, Dire Dawa or just out of Addis if do have some spare time.

What is your favorite dish?

  •  

What is your favorite book?

'The Overcoat' by Nicolai Gogol.

Who is the one Ethiopian personality that you admire?

I admire the musical group The Lafontains. This duet has done much to bring up a number of artists and musicians including the phenomenal Teddy Afro.

Do you have a memorable on-air incident?

I remember at one time a young man frequently sending me hate messages via SMS. Most of them were insult regarding what I was doing. He finally told me that he did it because he was feeling annoyed with my show especially when he was a bit mistreated by life. I finally forgave him and we became friends.

What was your feeling during your debut radio show?

Just ridiculousness. I was doing it the way I do it right. No fear at all. I was shouting hello everybody this is Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year) so enjoy and cheer up please hurry up! And everybody in studio was surprised and they were discussing about my mental health conditions.

What is your favorite radio show besides your own?

Tadias Addis on FM 102.1, Gojo Muisc on FM 96.3 and DJ Baby’s show on FM 98.1

What is your favorite type of car?

I like any big car such as D4D because I like everything that appeals to a gentleman's type.

What is the first thing you do when you get out of your bed and last thing when you go to bed?

I usually pray in the morning. Since I’m a DJ working late in the night, I just go to bed after work.

What do you want to achieve as a radio personality?

I want to leave behind my own style and identity as a radio DJ. I don’t copy others and I have always been devoted to my own interest.

 

'Qophii Ijollee'

Zinash Olani (former radio host on Fana FM 98.1)


Zinash Olani

For millions of Oromiffa language listeners and even for some who don’t speak the language, Zinash is familiar voice on the radio. She hosted a very popular radio show in Oromiffa on the National Radio and later on Fana radio stations. She says back in the day, she and some of her colleagues in the national radio station, the Amharic service, wrote their own scripts; and did it with no pay too. Zinash is also recognized for hosting a very popular radio show for children named “Qophii Ijollee” meaning children's program. She also served on the Ethiopian Television Oromifia services as an anchorwoman and was also host of another popular TV show in Oromifa dubbed Dhangaa (entertainment).

What is your favorite pastime?

I have a very tight schedule every week, and I can’t say I do something regularly on my spare time. Sometimes, I would like to spend time with my family here and in the countryside.

What is your favorite dish?

  • I eat nothing without it, not even pasta.

What is your favorite book?

I don’t like fiction. I read motivational books.

Who is the one Ethiopian personality that you admire?

Abebech Gobena. She is a great philanthropist who pioneered in organized orphanages in Ethiopia.

Do you have a memorable on-air incident?

During my stay with Fana, I didn’t recognize my long years of service there until I found out that some of the young radio journalists refer to me as Abaye (a nickname given to mothers in Oromiffa). They widely used that term for me due to the experience and age gap we had. Once, one of these young journalists went out for field reporting and he had to report live via telephone for a news program. Then, he started his telephone report calling me Abaye.

What was your feeling during your debut radio show?

It was unbelievable for me to record my voice on a radio. I couldn’t believe it was me. I called my parents and friends to tell them that I have spoken on the radio.

What is your favorable radio show besides your own?

I rarely listen to radio shows because I’m busy running my own advertisement company these days. Moreover, there are a few which really catches my ears. But, I sometimes listen to radio shows on Oromiffa FM 93.1 because it attempts to raise awareness on the importance of rule of law among people in the countryside.

What is your favorite type of car?

I like big cars; I like cars that stand out among other small automobiles at the traffic stop. But, I’m currently driving a small Toyota automobile. I wish to change it with a Toyota RAV4 soon.

What is the first thing you do when you get out of bed and the last thing you do when you go to bed?

I don’t do anything different. I wake up and wash, brush and rush.

What do you want to achieve as a radio personality?

I’m almost leaving it to focus on my own business with the exception that I turn on my TV once in a while. But, I would like set an example for the youth who want to pursue a career in radio.

 

'Yetiras Shukshukta'

Bethelhem Legesse (radio host at Bisrat 101.1 and Zami FM 90.7)


Bethelhem Legesse

With her soft and seductive voice, Bethlhem Legesse, 33, is one of the popular late night radio show hosts in Ethiopia. Especially, her late night show called “Yetiras Shukshukta” has stirred controversy as well as admiration from listeners. Developed by the founder of Zami Radio, Mimi Sebhatu, “Yetiras Shushukta” dissected issues which are considered to be taboo in Ethiopia: sexual life.  On the late night show, she engages people (especially married couples) to tune in and reveal their most intimate and secret stories. By doing so, she pushed the boundaries of society every time and she tried to normalize the talk of sex through her show for three years. Now, she moved to a different station, Bisrat FM, to host a radio show called Filsefena (philosophy) and it seems the controversy is following her. Subjects which are not raised among the society such as “Is God a woman?” are raised at her show.

What is your favorite pastime?

I meditate. I like to lock myself in and spend hours with myself.

What is your favorite dish?

Kurt (raw meat)

What is your favorite book?

I read any book with a philosophical theme and also books by Sigmund Freud are my favorite.

Who is the one Ethiopian personality that you admire?

Laureate Tsegaye Gebremedhin and Maitre Artiste World Laureate Afework Tekle.

Do you have a memorable on-air incident?

In my show, there are moments where people talk about vulgar subjects and most of the time these issues are not easily discussed on the radio. Since it is live, it is unfiltered and these situations cannot be controlled. Once, they said you cannot turn back. There are also incidences where I assume the mic is off and I said personal stuff.

What was your feeling on your debut radio show?

It was very scary. I was controlling what I was saying and my biggest worry was not to offend people.

What is your favorite radio show besides your own?

Yekidame Chewata” program on Sheger radio. I love Meaza Birru’s work.

What kind of car do you like?

I used to drive a Volkswagen. I love Lamborghini and Toyota Executive.

What is the first thing you do when you get out of bed and the last thing you do when you go to bed?

I praise the Holy Spirit when I wake up and I do the same before bed.

What do you want to achieve as a radio personality?

I like to be a known for introducing new things on the radio.

 

'Auto Car Talk'

Sileshi Dejene (Sheger 102.1)


Sileshi Dejene

Sileshi Dejene, 49, says his love and knowledge about cars started at an early age. Passing through hardships at a young age, he says he strived hard to get by. Sileshi went to high school in Harrar and later enrolled into Addis Tegbare-id TVET College, which paved the way to go deeper on the technical aspect of cars. Sileshi’s life as a radio personality started by hearing a program called Automotive Journal on Sheger FM, which he says tickled his senses. The auto-mechanic that was hosting that program was not pleasing for him and he kept calling the station to forward his criticism. His criticism was welcomed by the Sheger people and later led to his hiring. From that time on, he is the main host of the “Auto Car Talk” show for the past eight years.

What is your favorite pastime?

I spend it with cars and only cars. Fixing challenging technical problems excite me.

What is your favorite dish?

With the health problem I have, I can’t eat whatever I like. In the old times, I loved potato with sega wot (meat sauce). I grew up with that. I love shiro wot as well if it is well done.

What is your favorite book?

I like any technical, automotive book. But there is no specific book that I can refer to.

Who is the one Ethiopian personality that you admire?

Former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Do you have a memorable on-air incident?

There are a few moments. One time, a woman called me and told me that her car is not moving; and asked what to do. I told her to check the battery. She put me on speaker phone and told me there is no battery. In the meantime, a pedestrian came and showed her where the battery is located. She laughed and said thank you. There are times where we struggle about car models and the year it was made. Sometimes, what the document says and the year the actual car was made might not be the same. So, there is always conversation back and forth regarding these.

What was your feeling on your debut radio show?

I was well prepared for the show by reading a lot. Listening to my own voice, the lights, being behind the mirror were all new to me.

What is your favorite radio show besides your own?

Yes there are a couple of shows on Sheger such as Yekidame Chewata and Sinksar. I like Andualem and Meaza Birru.

What kind of car do you like?

My job requires me to drive. I own four wheel drive Nissan Patrol and a 4WD Toyota Corolla. I like cars with high horsepower and speed such as 1600-4,000 cc: Toyota, RAV4 and muscle cars are my favorite (Chevrolet and Ford).

What is the first thing you do when you get out of bed and the last thing you do when you go to bed?

I don’t have a morning ritual; I just go to work very early in the morning. The last thing I do before I go to bed is surf the internet and read about cars.

What do you want to achieve as a radio personality?

I want to see the automotive industry thrive and radio to help strengthen it. It might be too ambitious but I want to establish an automotive technical radio. This might be far from reality but it I just my wishes.

 

'Bisrat Sport'

Mensur Abdulkeni (Bisrat 101.1)


Mensur Abdulkeni

Among the football crazed Ethiopians, names like Mensur Abdulkeni is a household name. Mensur, 40, started his sports journalism as Managing Editor at a newspaper called “Ethio Sport”. Later on, because the newspaper business was discouraging, he wished to make the football talk more versatile. So Mensur moved to radio. He started his radio career simultaneously with his newspaper as he started to host a Sunday morning sports bulletin entitled “Talk Football” with his co-host, Abiy Teklemariam on FM 97.1.

Back in the day, he appeared as a guest on Kuas Meda on Sheger and co-hosted a sports show called “Egir Quasin Be Radio Temelketu” (Watch Football Through Radio) with Mesele Mengistu, currently owner of Bisrat FM 101.1, on Fana FM 98.1. Currently, Mensur co-hosts “Bisrat Sport” on Bisrat FM 101.1 the whole week.

What is your favorite pastime?

I read military books. I surf online and sometimes I go to the cinema.

What is your favorite dish?

I like doro wot.

What is your favorite book?

I am into military books these days. Documentaries also peak my interest.

Who is the one Ethiopian personality that you admire?

Haile Gebreselassie.

Do you have a memorable on-air incident?

I don’t remember the details but we were transmitting a live European cup match on Sheger. It was a match between Italy and a team I can’t recall now. Sometimes, you lose focus. There was an international bet on one of the Italian players, if he gets a penalty and scores. We were so caught up on the bet. In the middle of the game, the opposite team got a penalty but from the three of the hosts the two of us were erroneously saying that Italy got a penalty. One of our co-hosts was confused. We understood what we did and could not control our laugh then. Many people texted and called us on what we are doing. Another one is when there was a Manchester derby match. I was fine before the game; but after the game has started I begun to feel a severe stomachache. It was a live match analysis and could not continue; so I gave a sign to Mesele and left. After a while, I came back and some time has passed in the game. It was difficult to capture the essence of the game but I caught up eventually.

What was your feeling on your debut radio show?

I guess nothing. The only people you face are the technicians and the microphone so I was not scared. But, I am also aware of the millions of listeners out there so I am careful.

What is your favorite radio show besides your own?

I listen sport shows on the different FMs to evaluate my show. What I like is Dagu Addis, which focuses on reproductive health issues and I thinks it is a courageous show.

What kind of car do you like?

I don’t drive. I am not into cars that much but I like RAV4.

What is the first thing you do when you get out of bed the last thing you do when you go to bed?

I don’t think I have a usual pattern but I always get up early in the morning and browse the different websites to know what is going on in the football world. But, I don’t do this only in the morning but in different occasions. It’s a job. During the evenings, I follow text commentaries for matches that are not aired; but if there is a game I don’t miss it. I think my night ritual is reading books.

What do you want to achieve as a radio personality?

I want to have a lot of listeners. And also I want to bring change to the Ethiopian football policy.

 

'Tizita Ze Arada'

Teferi Alemu (Sheger 102.1)


Teferi Alemu

Teferi Alemu, 50, is one of the legendary theater personalities in Ethiopian theater history. Many do not forget his character on ETV’s drama him playing a confused professor entitled “Kiftet”. He also got critical acclaim for a play called “Yetelekech Jember”. He also contributed to the art world through writing: “Yekafiya Mitch”. Teferi is known for his narrative skills presenting works such as Adam Reta’s “Ebdu Shibeshi” and reading the prolific works of poet Gebrekirstos Desta. Many are accustomed to his unique voice and also his show “Jiwa Jiwe”. Currently, Teferi is known for his show “Tizita Ze Arada” on Sheger where he is also a co-owner.

What is your favorite pastime?

I read books, watch movies and I spend my time especially my Sundays with my children.

What is your favorite dish?

Shiro.

What is your favorite book?

There are many books that made unforgettable impressions on me. I have high regards for books such as “Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck, “The Tale of two cities” by Charles Dickens and “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Who is the one Ethiopian personality that you admire?

There are a lot of people on various fields. For instance, on medicine Dr. Abirham (a general surgeon), Dr. Geda (neurologist), Dr. Belay Abegaz (a cardiovascular specialist) are few that I admire.

Do you have a memorable on-air incident?

There are a couple of them actually. With short story narratives, it is usually pre-recorded since sound effects and music are added to give it flavor; but other programs are done live. One time, I recorded my show and when it was time to present the short story the recorded tape could not be found. Fortunately, the book was in my hand so I had to read and narrate it live. It is usually a difficult job to do.

What was your feeling on your debut radio show?

It was very scary. I felt suffocated. I did not like my voice at all and I could not understand why they liked my voice.

What is your favorite radio show beside your own?

I listen to shows but I don’t really have a specific show and host that I like.

What kind of cars do you like?

I don’t drive. I own a Toyota Yaris and I have a driver but I see cars as only a means of transportation.

What is the first thing you do when you get out of bed and the last thing you do when you go to bed?

I just do a little prayer to make my day good and also I will do the same thing before I fall asleep to make my nights safe and sound.

What do you want to achieve as a radio personality?

We got here. We established this radio station and I don’t consider myself as a radio personality I am a theater professional.

 

'Africawuyan'

Ketselawork Seifu (Sheger 102.1)


Ketselawork Seifu

Africawuyan” radio show is a music program that takes one to the various vibrant cultures of the different African countries. Describing what the radio show entails, the radio host Ketselawork Seifu, 46, says it is presenting positive and balanced imagery of Africa tapping into African experiences and stories. The show focuses on creating a sense of belongingness to the bigger picture of what Africa is and what blackness entails through music. Ketselawork, who lived in the US for two decades and who is a photographer by profession, is also deeply immersed into fashion as a stylist. Coming back to her country, after eight years, she run a family restaurant for a year and also worked in a film as a stylist which is not released yet. The reason she started the radio is because of one of the renowned musicians, Jorga Mesfin, who actually started the “Africawuyan” radio show. When he left for three months, Ketselawork’s husband who is also a musician took over and when her husband left she took over the show.

What is your favorite pastime?

I like listening to music and do not go out that much. Apart from spending it with the family, I also listen to music at home.

What is your favorite dish?

Doro wot.

What is your favorite book?

I love spiritual books.

Who is the one Ethiopian personality that you admire?

My great grandmother who I was named after: Ketselawork Tulu and also my mother.

Do you have a memorable on-air incident?

There was a moment that I don’t forget. At one time, my former co-host heard a certain rumor that says the former Ethiopian president Mengistu Hailemariam has passed away; and he broke the news on the show. Actually, Mengistu’s in-laws heard the news and informed us that he was alive and kicking.

What was your feeling on your debut radio show?

I had all the feelings: excitement, scared, nervous and all my senses were alert.

What is your favorite show besides your own?

Asham” on Bisrat FM 101.1 and I also like Meaza Birru.

What kind of car do you like?

I drive a Nissan but like a Land Rover.

What is the first thing you do when you get out of bed and the last thing you do when you go to bed?

I do yoga and meditate in the morning and listen to my music. During the night, I listen to music, watch movies and read bedtime stories to my children.

What do you want to achieve as a radio personality?

I want to see Ethiopians embrace their African identity. We are part of the bigger picture and respecting that and working together would be an achievement.

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