There are radio voices that become like close friends you listen to them so often. I have recently had the pleasure of meeting one of them. Tigist Begashaw has been working as an Amharic language reporter, editor and news presenter at Fana Broadcasting Corporation for a number of years. Her voice is attractive, reassuring and familiar.
Tigist, 32, explains she began her career with the launch of Fana’s FM 98.1 in 2006, an FM which started broadcasting under the already functioning station, Radio Fana. She worked her way through various roles, going into the field to report and hosting “Zena Metshiet” (a news magazine) which later became “90 Minutes,” one of the station’s popular morning news programs. It was in this role that Tigist came to be known to so many radio listeners for her charming voice, boldness, brilliance at the microphone, and friendly demeanour. “90 Minutes” delivers the morning’s news with an informal and vibrant tone. “We present headlines, analysis, and international news in way that is interesting and engaging. We wanted it to be a reference point and the audiences feel that they are not missing of any of the day’s news,” she says.
Tigist has interviewed countless leading figures in the world of politics, economics, business and sports. She had stayed with this programme for nearly six years until she decided to partner with her friend and fellow journalist Tsegent Lake to start a new venture, a show called Malefia and switching to Ethiopia Radio’s 97.1. “It was aired three times a week, seven hours all in all. It was a joint initiative with Adika and we worked on some other ideas of our own,” she notes. Leaving her full-time work at Fana was no easy, she says, but «it became busy and hectic especially after I became an editor. I was always preparing for the next day. It was never ending. Assigning others, all the responsibilities. I thought it was time to do something that was a bit different.”
The new program, Malefia was something of a success and Tigist and Tsegent were invited by Fana to take air time and to run their show. “It was the first invitation by the station. Once journalists left the place, they were not given air time. But we were given seven hours per week,” she says.
The program called Taza, a life style and entertainment program, has been running for the past three years. It is gaining wider audiences as it focuses on a social, physiological and cultural aspects of the society. “Instead of holding a dry speech and imposing our opinion on other people, we go for something more passionate and connects to the heart of the people. We talk to people to tell us their real lives and share stories. We raise marriage issues, money issues, relationship issues,” Tigist explains.
Tigist says she is increasingly focusing more on psychology as she felt that working on human interest issues was something close to her heart. Though her first degree was animal science, she decided to study psychology on the extension section few years ago. “I wanted to study it because its relevance for my life. I felt it would help me to do my bit in changing people’s outlook on life for better,” she says. One part of the program is a phone-in through which they engage listeners on life style, how to live in harmony with others, success in workplace and relationships.
Besides to their own show, Tigist and Tsegent host the station’s morning and evening news program “90 Minutes” and “120 Minutes” twice a week. Beyond her role as a journalist, Tigist moderates numerous forums, MC events, doe voiceovers, ads. Her presentation of the widely diffused music competition, Balageru Idol show brought her a certain celebrity status.
She also loved the film media and the prospects of acting held a special attraction for her for some time. She played the principal role in Azeb Worku Amharic feature film “Condominium” and she acted in another film called “Babylon” as a journalist. Tigist was also the star of Unilever’s advertising campaign for the washing powder, Omo. Created by Hungarian film Production Company, the campaign saw Tigist star the main role, which was shown on local stations in 45 second formats. The commercial was shot in Johannesburg, where Tigist and two other Ethiopian actresses went and stayed for a week. “There were around seventy candidates of us contesting for the role, including some famous actresses and I was pleased to be selected as main presenter.”
Tigist says the occasion gave her the opportunity to meet a variety of professionals in the field, cameramen, soundmen and film producers and she took real experience what production quality meant.
Tigist says she still has so much to achieve. She says the biggest piece of advice she could give to other young people taking up the profession it to be committed. “I would tell aspiring journalists that hosting a show on FM radio is more than saying hello and playing music. It takes hard work, time and energy to produce even a short episode.” When she first applied in 2007 for a post at Radio Fana, she was first on the waiting list. “It was a kind of let-down because I was certain that I would get the post. The ten lucky candidates went into training and I was out on a limb for a while.” After three or four months wait, she went on to apply for agriculture bureau and was accepted. But then the call from the radio station came.
Her long-time desire to be journalist was realized with that call. “While in high school, I already started working at Radio Ethiopia, Saturday afternoon youth program. That’s where I fell in love with radio. I acted in short dramas, working for free on weekends. I had just a pocket money to cover transport,”
Tigist and her husband are parents to boy who is now a year and four months old.