Africa 54 – VOA’s fast-moving TV magazine show – put its newfound versatility on display in Egypt this week, with live reporting on the deadly clashes between security forces and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
As demonstrators filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square Monday (July 8th), Africa 54 got an on-the-scene report from Tarek El Shamy, the Cairo News Bureau Chief for VOA’s sister station Alhurra TV.
“Joining forces with Alhurra and the Middle East Broadcasting Network creates a new reporting dynamic and benefits our audiences throughout Africa,” said John Walker, the show’s executive producer. “It adds to Africa 54’s impressive list of special coverage of major world events since the re-formatted program was launched earlier this year.”
The news team at Africa 54 is familiar to many viewers who used to watch In Focus, the Monday through Friday program that the new show replaced.
Host Vincent Makori and anchor-at-large Ndimyake Mwakalyelye, lead the new program, while Sonny Young delivers the bi-weekly sports segment, and Linord Moudou runs the health desk. Heather Maxwell, host of the long-running Music Time in Africa, highlights music from around the continent.
Africa 54 combines world news with fresh Africa-centric segments on sports, health, technology, and lifestyle. The 30-minute broadcast also includes a popular new segment called “What’s Trending,” which highlights the latest Internet memes and social media trends. Key to the new show is its interaction with audience members and affiliate stations around Africa.
Africa 54’s modified format allows for flexibility for affiliate stations, some of which may not have the resources to feature the show in its entirety. They now have the option to subscribe to specific segments – such as sports or technology news – which are produced and branded so that they can be easily inserted into affiliates’ broadcasts. The segments are also available on the show’s popular Facebook page.
Since its launch, Africa 54 has featured a slew of high-profile interviews, including Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma and President Mackey Sall of Senegal. The program has also benefited from increased live reporting from VOA Central News correspondents in Africa, and now, Alhurra TV correspondents.
Along with the live report from Cairo, the July 8th program included a TV package from VOA correspondent Sharon Behn, who has been reporting on the demonstrations along with VOA Persian Service reporter and videographer Arash Arabasadi.