Unlike television personalities, those in radio tend to engage listeners with their voices and the ground-breaking stories or programs they produce. It is not out of place for some listeners to fall in love with the voices they hear on radio; sometimes without even knowing the faces behind these voices. Joy FM’s Francesca Kakra Forson, 26, is definitely one presenter who attempts to break the mould of news broadcast with her unique voice, news-reading ability and engaging human-interest stories. Since Francesca was familiar with the art of interviewing, it was an opportunity for me to put her on the grill and get her to reveal those juicy bits that she would otherwise not talk about. During this interview, two things set the Joy ‘Headline News’ reader apart from the other radio personalities I knew. Those horn rimmed glasses she wore and the deep voice, which some could easily mistake for a male voice, were unforgettable features that would linger even after the interview.
When I probed what feedback she had got from listeners about her voice, the news reader and reporter broke into laughter. “I’ve got a deep voice so sometimes when I speak to people on the phone and say ‘Hello’ they say ‘Hello, Sir’ thinking that I’m a man so I have to correct them by saying ‘I’m a lady ooo’…I’ve got a deep voice and I’ve grown to manage it so that it’s appealing. There’s a colleague who calls me vim because he says I read with a lot of vim. I’ve met people I didn’t know from anywhere and when they got to know I was the face behind that voice they heard on radio; they would tell me ‘you have a sexy voice’. So the feedback I get is that I’ve got a confident and sexy voice”, she intoned. While admitting that most of her male admirers would tell her she had a sexy voice, this news reader mentioned that such remarks weren’t a bother to her because she earned her keep through the use of her voice. So, if listeners were engaged by it, then it could be said that she’d succeeded in keeping listeners hooked onto the radio station.
Apart from presenting the Joy ‘Headline News’, this young and enterprising broadcaster co-presents the only major news that is co-hosted titled ‘Francis and Francisca’, on Friday midday. She also occasionally sits in for Evans Mensah on ‘News Nite’. Looking back on how she got a foot in the door, Francesca explained that her determination not be idle during her vacation periods at the University of Ghana got her a break at one of the nation’s foremost broadcasters. “When I was in school, I didn’t want to spend my vacations doing nothing…I wanted to fill up that time. But I’ve always had the innate desire to work in broadcasting. When I was in primary school, I used to watch the GTV presenters read the news and I thought that was a nice thing to do because I thought at 7pm they had the whole nation listening to them…they must be important, and I also wanted to be important so that at a particular time people would listen to what I have to say.
So I used to mimic what they do. I pick the dailies and I used to sit at the side of the house where my dad used to park his car. That side was quiet so it used to echo and because it echoed I’d hear myself when I read”, she revealed. Francesca’s date with destiny came when she was interviewed by Kojo Oppong Nkrumah for the post of an intern. After working on the Joy Morning Show for a while, she was transferred to the news room. Her first assignment was to do a story on why men cheated. Being shy, it was quite a challenge for inexperienced Francesca to ask people about this very personal question. She, however, managed to do a good story and got a thumps up for a job well done. Since then she has never looked back.
Talking about the two most inspirational stories she’d done, she disclosed “there’s one story I did this year about road safety…my main character was a crippled girl who was a victim of an accident. So I told the girl’s story…there was another story about domestic violence that almost got me into trouble. I was doing a story on domestic violence and I interviewed a woman who had suffered abuse from her husband. She declined to be recorded so I only took notes. Eventually, I did a report on the story and we got someone else to do a narration. Although I’d called to inform the interviewee that I was doing the story, she wasn’t pleased when the story was aired. I was a bit disappointed but I like the story because I was a young journalist and didn’t know much about the topic…I learned a lot”.
Like some other journalists who’ve had to pay a price in the line of duty, Francesca was burgled sometime back when she went to Tamale on assignment. Reflecting on this gruesome incident she said “I like to think of myself as a strong character. I hate to feel vulnerable, but that experience made me feel vulnerable and it’s an experience I’ve never felt…to wake up and everything is gone, is a very bad feeling. It was a whole lot of emotion that I had never felt in my young body so I had to play it out and manage it. In retrospect I don’t like how I felt but the aftermath has made me somewhat security conscious. I recently went back to Tamale and when I got there, I made it a point to check the doors and windows because apparently the window of the last hotel was faulty and that’s how come the burglar got in…I find myself sleeping with my bag wrapped around my hand and under my pillow…my phone is either in my pocket or my bag…so it’s not deliberate but it’s what came with that experience. I try to be optimistic about it and say that’s the lesson I learned, but I guess a time will come when I will be able to balance it”.
When Francesca’s middle name ‘Kakra’ is omitted, many may not know that she is a twin. Asked how one could identify her from her twin sister, Audrey, she disclosed “we are very alike…only that when people meet us for the first time they think that I’m quiet but rather I’m the loud one. She’s also not quiet but relatively she’s quiet than I am. The difference physically is that I’m slightly fairer than she is…we’re the same height but she’s a little bigger than I am.
Her shoe size is bigger and so I can wear anything of hers except her shoes. Most of our primary school friends would say that she’s friendlier than I am”. To conclude the interview, I mentioned to Francesca how I’d heard twins were in the habit of playing prangs on people. Francesca said she and her twin sister Audrey were good girls, but said one time in secondary school they decided to swap classes during prep time. “I went to her class and she normally sat at the back but I didn’t like the back because I liked to sit in the front. She also went to my class and didn’t like the idea of sitting in front. She would do a bit of talking during prep, and I wouldn’t. Because we didn’t work out the fine details, some observant friends found out”, she intimated.