By Alvine Kapitako
WINDHOEK – It was just past eight on a Tuesday morning when New Era visited the offices of HitRadio Namibia. Everyone went on with their work as is the norm at every business organisation. And there he was: Wilfried Hähner, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of HitRadio Namibia.
Greeted by his bubbly and warm personality one could not help but wonder if the bubbly personality is a public relations strategy to portray his organisation in good light when we finally sit down for the interview.
“Meet Alvine from New Era (newspaper),” he tells a man who had just had an interview on radio regarding an upcoming event. He then turns to his receptionist and tells her that the reporter is here for an interview.
And so the introductions continue with two more staff before proceeding to a rather small yet neatly organised radio studio. It is very impossible not to spot the Namibian flag at one corner of the studio widely displayed as a frame. “This (Namibia) is my home. I grew up here and I don’t want to exchange it for anything in the world. There are opportunities here for everybody,” the 40-year- old born and bred German speaking Namibian says.
The focus of HitRadio, which he and his co-partner, Sgbille Rothkegel, started on August 1, 2012, is to promote a positive image about Namibia. Thus the news content, advertising and promotions all give a positive image about the country. “People always like to talk about negative things, to always see negative things. We should be more thankful and more positive and see the positive things. We should tell the people about the positive things for them to see that we live in a great country. We shouldn’t take this for granted and that is why we want to promote Namibia and tell the people how great this country is,” he says, explaining why his radio station chooses to focus on positive aspects about Namibia, and also promoting it as the ideal tourism destination in Germany.
Hähner is an energetic character. The interview takes place while he is also attending to his on-air duties. Throughout the interview he responds to a question, then go on air, before turning the attention back to the interview that is taking place during his programming slot, starting from 05 A.M until 10 A.M. He continues to share that Namibia is portrayed in a positive light in Germany. According to him Germans have a love for Namibia and it’s like a Namibian bug has bitten them.
“These people are bitten by this Namibian goga (translated as bug in Afrikaans),” he says. Hitradio, he says, works very well with the Namibian Tourism Board (NTB) to promote Namibian tourism in a positive light in Germany.
The HitRadio Facebook page always depicts something Namibian, he further adds. “So we are really here to promote this country, and that’s why we report about the positive things because we want to promote this country, tourism is so important”, he says before air casting HitRadio Namibia Safari, a programme that basically promotes tourist attractions in the country.
Despite doing its fair share in promoting tourism, Hähner is very much aware that HitRadio alone would not do it, and everybody has a part to play in promoting tourism and portraying the country in a positive light.
“We have to do this together,” he says firmly, noting that the more tourists the country has the greater that would contribute to the growth of the economy. His love for radio dates back to when he was a child. “Radio was always a big dream for me,” Hähner quips. Having worked at the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC)’s German Language Service for many years, he says he has gained experience that makes the work and what he does now easier.
“I’m not married, I’m married to my work. My parents are staying here and I have a sister who is three years younger than me,” he comments about his private life. “I see the future of Hitradio very bright and I would like to keep this station small and personal as it is at the moment but it’s maybe not possible because it has already seen tremendous growth within less than two years,” he says, adding that he wants it to be a “people’s radio, where people are always interactive and be a voice for the people”.