By Maxine Betteridge-Moes –
The Chair of a Kitchissippi-area NGO that helps small-scale African farmers receive practical and relevant information over the radio has been appointed a Member of the Order of Canada.
Doug Ward was one of 69 Canadians from all sectors of society recognized for their outstanding achievement, dedication, and service to the nation. Doug was recognized for his devotion to Farm Radio International (FRI) for over 15 years, as well as his contributions to public-service radio during his 30-year career with the CBC.
Doug says he is humbled and honoured to be presented with this prestigious award. The flood of support he received upon hearing the news was overwhelming. “It was a very pleasant surprise,” he says. “And it got me thinking of all the creative people in CBC and later in Africa who I have worked with to stretch radio, and to experiment with radio, to make it a great tool for positive social communication.”
Doug’s notable career began in 1967 as part of the team that created the popular radio show As It Happens. He also the CBC grow its audience through a co-authored report that set up separate networks for information and performance, eliminated commercials, and strengthened local programming. As director of the CBC Northern Service, he helped boost the hiring and training of native journalists to get more northern native voices and perspectives on air.
Shortly after his retirement in 1996, Doug was recruited by a former colleague to sit on the board of FRI. Doug helped transform the organization into a successful NGO with multiple field offices in sub-Saharan Africa and a reputation for development and innovation to enhance the effectiveness of radio. Today, FRI operates out of its head office on Scott Street in Kitchissippi Ward. The organization now works with 600 African radio stations in 39 countries to share knowledge and amplify the voices of small-scale farmers, their families, and their communities.
“Finding ways to give people a voice is so important,” says Doug. “Radio is amazing because it penetrates like no other medium.”
At 77-years-of-age, with an array of remarkable achievements under his belt, Doug is showing no signs of slowing down. FRI’s latest project is the inaugural World Radio Day Webcast, in which he will take part in a panel discussion. Moderated by CBC’s Piya Chattopadhyay, the panel will also feature Nora Young, the host of CBC’s Spark, and Katie Jensen, producer of CANADALAND. The event is a celebration of the impact of radio as a changing medium in North America and in Africa and will take place on February 13.
The webcast will also feature contributions from podcast hosts Nick van der Kolk and Jesse Brown, as well as several African radio broadcasters who will share their stories and pose questions to the panel.
For more information about FRI and to register for World Radio Day, visit farmradio.org/boom-box.