The business of broadcasting in the eyes of celebrated Kenyan journalist Larry Madowo
Renowned Kenyan journalist Larry Madowo has described to CNN’s African Voices programme his journey to success and the business of news gathering.
Madowo is one of the biggest names in Kenyan TV, having raised his profile using multiple platforms to cover a plethora of topics, from pop culture to politics. However, before fame and success Madowo experienced much hardship as a child, after losing both of his parents by the time he was 14.
He reflects on how this shaped the person he is today: “When you grow up with almost no privilege at all, you learn to appreciate the small things. There are small miracles happening every day and we’re living through this in Africa.”
After graduating from Daystar University, Madowo landed his first TV job at KTN (Kenya Television Network). He quickly made an impression and began hosting “The Trend” for NTV in 2012.
The show, which covered trending topics in the arts, music, entertainment and technology, was a huge success. Madowo explains: “More and more people started watching and it became the most imitated show on TV and the most commercially successful. It brought Kenyan arts and culture into the mainstream, onto prime time, which had not been done before.”
Madowo tells the programme how this experience, in which no two days were the same, instilled in him his love for journalism: “You never know what a day is going to turn out to be. You might be interviewing a Nobel Peace Prize winner or you might be interviewing a [market woman] and they will have valuable insights on the way of life.”
He now hosts the political show, ‘Sidebar’, on NTV. Madowo outlines why he felt inclined to move into covering politics: “I want to be involved in the development of my country and my continent, and part of that is political journalism, being able to cover the difficult stories and ask the hard questions.”
In addition to hosting ‘Sidebar’, he hosts ‘The Larry Madowo Show’ on Nation FM, is a columnist for The Daily Nation and is active across social media. He tells the programme why he doesn’t mind being controversial on Twitter: “I speak my mind. It’s not always popular, but it’s got to be said.”
Despite his busy life, Madowo also spends much of his spare time speaking at events and universities in the hope he will inspire others to follow their dreams: “I got on TV because somebody took a chance on me without experience, without anything really. What I’ve tried to do in my career is give the same opportunity I was given to somebody else. The kind of impact that I wish to make in my Africa is to show a lot of young kids growing up from underprivileged, rural backgrounds like mine, that it is possible. If you have a dream and you work at it, the whole world is yours for the taking.”