'I eat, drink and breathe radio'

Wednesday March 18 2020

Jael Lieta, the SKY FM manager. PHOTO | COURTESY


Jael Lieta is the SKY FM station manager, having risen from a presenter post.

Q: Your most defining moment in life?

I had been in a year-long scholarship production programme on storytelling, and contestants were being dropped gradually.

I worked hard and when my name was called after pitching my story in Dar es Salaam, I was among the finalists. That was big for me, and it shaped my career journey.

Q: How has the journey been?

It’s been long. I started as an intern in a local media house, volunteered at another community radio station before my name was suggested for a position at my former workplace.


I think I always had a leadership skill and people saw it. So in my first paid job at a vernacular radio station, I was leading this team and running the station (mainly through trial and error); it’s the most listened to in the region, so the team did a great job.

Q: What are some of your duties as a manager?

Nearly half of my day entails attending meetings but I also do supervision around the office, offer guidance to the team and ensure things run well.

Q: What does a perfect day look like to you?

There’s really no perfect day, but a good day would be where I provide a solution to a problem.

Q: Being a journalist is a 24/7 job. Being a manager is an additional task; how do you manage?

Everything is all about planning. Management is a full-time job but because I am always a journalist, I make time every week to have my personal programme on air.

Q: With your busy schedule, do you get family time?

Same way I have time to work, I also have time for family. It’s all about creating a balance and striking it.

Q: What activity do you like doing together as a family?

Oooh! We love dancing, music, and watching movies. Everyone has an opportunity to decide which movie to watch and this is how we blend.

Q: Looking at where you have come from, what advice can you give to young female journalists who are giving up on the profession?

Take one thing at a time. Who knew I would be where I am now — from a presenter to a manager.

Always give and try your best in any task you are assigned to do. There is no shortcut to anything. Hard work and resilience pays.

I believe in mentoring — have a mentor and mentor someone. It helps you grow someone as you grow yourself.

Q: Transitioning from broadcasting to management; how easy or difficult is it?

I did not really work towards moving into management but into career change.

At some point in my career, I felt I was stuck in a rut and needed a new challenge.

Over the years, I attended various trainings on management and when the opportunity arose, I took it. It was a long journey full of hurdles.

But if you have a positive attitude and constantly strive to give your best effort, you are able to get where you want to be.

Q: What do you feel most proud of?

When I see those who have passed through my hands excel in what they do.

Q: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

Italy. The passion of the people, music and their cuisine.

Q: Why did you choose this profession?

It chose me. It called me from the days of watching Catherine Kasavuli and even before that, my dad was a writer and my mum a librarian.

All this prepared me to tell stories through writing, which I did for a while before I got into radio and started telling stories in a different way.

Q: Growing up, what did you want to be?

In my teen years, I wanted to model. My bedroom had all these newspaper cuttings of models, Naomi Campbell and the likes.

This dream died when someone told me I was too dark to think about modelling.

Q: How do you spend your free time?

I balance between friends and family. Occasionally, I catch up with friends over a cup of tea.

I also spare time for music, movies and just being there for my family. I have boys and a young girl in the house, so it’s never quiet.

Q: Tell me about the last book you read and the biggest takeaway from it

Money and Greed. These two things can make someone sell their soul to the devil. As much as money makes the world go round, do not lose yourself because of it.

Q: Which topics interest you the most when it comes to reading, writing, and research?

I am not so big on motivational/inspirational books. I go for thrillers. For writing and research, anything touching on women works for me.

Q: Whom do you admire most in your journalistic life?

I watched Catherine Kasavuli and admired her grace in front of the camera.

Along the way, I got drawn to how other women were taking their space in the industry — Sophie Ikenye, Caroline Mutoko, Julie Gichuru, among others.

Q: Walk me through your education.

I went to Malel Mosoriot Primary, Moi Girls Nangili in Soy, then Alphax College, Eldoret, for my diploma in journalism and mass communication, and later my degree at Maseno University.

Q: How would your friends describe you?

Reliable, focused, kind-hearted and a go-getter.

Q: If you could write about anything, which topic would you choose and why?

I have a passion for women issues, especially around sexual and reproductive health and rights.

I believe in championing women empowerment, telling the stories of their struggles, challenges, and triumphs.

Q: Name three qualities you include in every story you write.

Balance of the voices, right of reply, factual.

Q: Do you consider yourself a persuasive person?

Partly yes, but I put my point across and let the person decide on what to do.

Q: How important is the power of persuasion in journalism?

It is important. However, it’s also important to give people time to make decisions and own whatever they decide to do if they want to tell their story.

I explain to them the significance of sharing their story and how it can change someone’s life. This always works.

Future plans

When I finished high school, my mother wanted me to join a teachers training college.

I was not big on teaching but who is God — I am currently teaching, more of a media trainer. I want to build on it.

Parting shot

Believe in yourself. Go for what you want. Have the right people to guide you along the way. Also, plan for what you want.