Background Radio Univers
Late 1993, the Dean of Students, Professor Kwesi Yankah, in consultation with the Vice Chancellor, Professor George Benneh, and the Executive Committee of the SRC, proposed the setting up of a campus Radio Station and subsequently applied to the Ghana Frequency Registration and Control Board for authorization.
Through student contributions of one thousand Cedis ( 1000.00) per head, plus matching funds from the University, relevant FM radio transmission equipment and accessories were imported from Britain at the cost of 2,600 pounds: namely, two sets of 22 Watts FM, mono radio transmitters, one omnidirectional antennae, 60 meter feeder cable complete with connectors and fixing hardware.
These were to be used alongside other accessories belonging to the School of Communication Studies and a mast donated by a private company through the efforts of the SRC. On February 19th 1994 the University of Ghana, Legon was granted permission by the Ghana Frequency Registration and Control Board (GFRCB) to “set up and operate an Experimental FM radio station”. Late 1994, the radio station, named Voice of Legon (VOL) started operating on the frequency of 99.7 MHz over 12.5-klometre radius.
On 29th December 1994, a few weeks after transmission had begun, a swift order for discontinuation was issued by the same GFRCB, on the grounds that the frequency on which the station was operating had not been approved by the board; and that VOL’S equipment and studio had not been duly inspected by the Board and certified as satisfactory.
After a scheduled inspection by the GFRCB in January, and further negotiations between the University and the GFRCB, final authorization for transmission was given in February 1995. In the interim, though, the Frequency 99.7 MHZ, originally used by VOL had been reassigned to Joy FM the first independent commercial radio station.
VOL was reassigned a new frequency of 105.7 MHZ only after the new station had started full transmission. The circumstances surrounding the events culminating in the change of VOL frequency was at best suspicious.
In November 1995, after several months of being air again the Interim Management Board set up a sub-committee, chaired by the Dean of Students, Dr. A. Bilson, to clearly define the position of the Station within the University’s administrative set up, and also clarify the obligations of the constituent bodies associated with it.
Upon receipt of the sub-committee report the Vice Chancellor, Professor George Benneh set up a Policy Review Task Force, chaired by Professor Kwesi Yankah, to propose fresh guidelines aimed at bringing the Station in line with the University’s vision and statutory mandate. Among other key recommendations the Station was to be autonomous and independent but accountable to the University and headed by a Director.
The University demonstrated its commitment to the Station and procured a new set of transmission equipment, at the cost of approximately $50,000 (fifty thousand dollars). So in line with the new image came a new set of equipment and a change of name from Voice of Legon to “Radio Univers”. The adoption of this peculiar spelling of Univers (without a final “e”) was to maintain its distinctive identity.
Then in 2006 the Station Manager Abubakari Sidick Ahmed on his own initiative submitted a proposal through the Management Board of the Station Chaired by Professor Yankah to UNESCO for technical support through its IPDC programme. The proposal was accepted and UNESCO procured a 500Watts stereo transmitter with accessories, an exciter, and eight bay antennae system at an estimated cost of $100,000.
By 2007 the Station Manager again through targeted fundraising drive got some donors to procure an 80-meter fully galvanized industrial tower at the cost of about $80,000 for the Station, which has since become the property of the University.
Who owns Radio Univers?
At its inception in 1994, the University of Ghana, the SRC, and the School of Communication Studies jointly owned the Station. A Policy
Review Task Force set up by the then Vice Chancellor Professor George Benneh represented by key constituents of the University in particular the SRC designated the Station as “the property of the University of Ghana in 1996”.
Then in 2000 a Review Committee on the Mission and Vision of Radio
Univers endorsed the new designation of the Station. Reasons adduced for the new designation include the fiducial responsibility of the University and the need to mainstream the Station into the structures of the University.
Radio Univers puts a lot of premium in aligning the station’s policy to the NCA licensing mandate, the Constitutive Act of the University and its recent published strategic plan. Hence the decision to use the Station to improve intra and inter university communication but above all to serve as the bridge between academia and the public at large with a bias on the common man and woman on the street.
The Station believes that the relevance of the University is its contribution to society, in particular the less privilege rather than talking to itself and entrenching the myth of the Ivory tower. So we set out to demystify the notion of the Ivory tower by harnessing the enormous human capital or resource of the University in the communicative enterprise of broadcasting.
What distinguishes Radio Univers from its competitors is that the station is located on the campus of the Premier University of Ghana. As an important educational institution, the Station has access to a range of experts and academic opinions on almost all matters of national and international importance. Furthermore the University attracts visitors from many African nations, Europe, the Americas, and Asia. This makes the University space cosmopolitan, vibrant, dynamic, and therefore conducive for good programming.