Yahya Othman: Aden Radio and Television Corporation is the Oldest in the Region [Archives:2001/49/Interview]

December 3 2001

Aden Radio and Television are amongst the oldest in the region, as its inception dates back to September 1964. At that time only Baghdad, Beirut and Cairo had television stations. This could be one of the reasons why Aden Radio and Television are so distinguished. Yemen Times Aden Bureau Chief, Rithwan al-Saqqaf met with Yahya Othman, one of the most celebrated announcers in Yemen. Following are excerpts of the interview.
Q: Can you give me a briefing on your career as a radio announcer?
A: Actually, my career as a radio announcer started in mid-October 1973. Before that, I worked as a teacher for five years, then I joined radio and television after I heard an announcement describing vacant positions on the radio. I applied for this post along with 80 other applicants who underwent a series of tests and interviews. Interestingly, I was one of the five applicants who were accepted for these positions. After that, we underwent a training course at the radio studio, which was supervised by Mr. Alawi al-Saqqaf in cooperation with Abdulrahman Baljun and Abdulrahman Thabet.
During my 27-year work in radio and television I held several different positions: Head of a Department of Programs, Chief Announcer and Deputy Head of the Announcers Department. Following the unification I moved to Sana’a, where I broadcast along with my colleague the first news bulletin through Sana’a Television on the very day of the proclamation of the renunciation. Then, in 1994 I was appointed to Director of Development Programs at Aden Television. I am currently the Director of the Department of Radio and Television.
Q: What are the characteristics of a successful announcer?
A: A good voice, a very good cultural background and a through knowledge of grammar are the most important things. Other assets needed for the announcer are good repartee, keeping up with world news, good reporting skills, love and dedication for his work.
Q: Aden Radio and Television is distinguished to have professional announcers. What is the reason for that?
A: Thank you for this high regard. Actually, Aden Radio & Television is the first in the Arabian peninsula, as it was established in September 1964. Moreover, most of the staff of Aden Radio Television was trained by experts from BBC radio.
Q: Many young female announcers have made their debuts within the last couple of years. Where they have been trained, and what is your assessment of the female announcers in general?
A: The new female announcers are mainly trained at the studios of Aden television. Regarding my assessment of female announcers, I think they are mostly very good, particularly as they have a long experience in this career.
Q: These days, many announcers go to work for some Arab satellite channels. What are the reasons for this?
A: The move of some announcers to work in some Arab satellite channels is an individual thing and it has happened in different manners. Some announcers left Yemen to work at some Arab satellite channels following the 1986 incidents in the Southern part of Yemen, and some others personally joined other Arab satellite channels after being accepted there.
Q: Have you ever been offered a job at an Arab satellite channel?
A: No. I have not been offered a job at an Arab satellite channel. Basically, this is because these channels advertise for vacant posts and the best applicants are chosen. Personally, I have not yet applied for such jobs due to certain circumstances, principally those pertinent to my family. However, I have a desire now to move and work outside of Yemen.
Q: What are the difficulties facing announcers? And is there any contact between Yemeni and Arab announcers?
A: One of the difficulties encountering announcers at the Aden Radio & Television is the lack of discipline in the administrative and financial departments, which breeds disappointment amongst announcers. Similarly, the non-existence of the occupational classification and description have made all employees at the same level regardless of their career or long experience. Unfortunately, all announcers in radio and television are viewed as just civil servants and not as talented people who have spent most of their life in this career. Similarly, the payroll of announcers doesn’t recognize the long experience and career of the different announcers. The difference between an announcer who has spent 27 years in service and one who spent 16 doesn’t exceed YR 2000 at its best. Furthermore, the texts of the main newscast are not submitted to the news-readers in a sufficient period of time for proofreading and recognizing foreign names. Concerning our contact with Arab announcers, we actually have an agreement according to which the Qatar-based al-Jazeera Satellite Channel will host a number of announcers and editors from Aden and Sana’a televisions for the period of two weeks starting in November. I hope that this move will be a starting point for further cooperation with other Arab satellite channels.
Q: Any last comment?
A: I d’ like to thank the Yemen Times for this interview and I hope that this interesting paper will develop further.