Farm Radio International’s Doug Ward celebrated for his work transforming radio for public good in Canada and Africa
Doug Ward, chair of Ottawa-based Farm Radio International was recently appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada in recognition of his groundbreaking work transforming Canadian public radio and his ongoing contributions to global food security.
Ottawa, Canada, January 8, 2016 — Radio pioneer Doug Ward was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada last week. Having revolutionized Canadian public radio, Ward has not slowed down since retiring from the CBC 20 years ago. At 77, he still works tirelessly to ensure that radio puts the needs and voices of listeners first — now with his sights set firmly on Africa.
Ward’s 30 years at the CBC were in service to the public. In 1970, he co-authored a report that helped make CBC Radio what it is today. The English Radio Report ushered in major changes such as separate networks for information and performance, greater emphasis on Canadian stories, more support for local programs and the elimination of commercials. He was on the team that created the popular and enduring program As It Happens. As Director of the CBC Northern Service, he promoted the hiring and training of native northerners to create radio programs that reflected their cultures, voices, and concerns.
Ward brought this vision for audience-centred radio to Farm Radio International (FRI) shortly after his retirement from the CBC, when former colleague and FRI-founder George Atkins recruited him to its board of directors. He joined the board in 2000 and soon became its chair, a position he continues to hold today.
Under Ward’s leadership, FRI focused its work on sub-Saharan Africa and began placing more emphasis on creating radio that not only provides key information but also reflects farmers’ voices. Ward created a weekly electronic news service for broadcasters and a set of standards for farmer programs. He has trained broadcasters in the field and developed online training courses to reach more broadcasters, more cost-effectively. With FRI Executive Director Kevin Perkins, Ward has helped FRI grow into an organization with multiple African field offices, and a
reputation for delivering impressive, measurable, and lasting development outcomes by innovatively using new technologies to enhance the power of radio.
Ward says that the common theme to his work in Canada and Africa is the importance of featuring the voices of ordinary citizens. “Radio can help people name their concerns and aspirations, and then speak together and speak to power to influence change. This is particularly true now in Africa with the ubiquity of cell phones.”
When asked how he felt about receiving one of the country’s highest honours, Ward emphasized that he wants to share it “with all of the creative people in the CBC and in African radio stations dedicated to stretching and experimenting with radio to make it a stronger tool for positive social communication.”
● Doug Ward, Chair of the Board of Directors, Farm Radio International
*Available for comment until the end of business on Wednesday, January 13, 2016
● Kevin Perkins, Executive Director, Farm Radio International
About Farm Radio International
Farm Radio International is a Canadian charity that works with more than 600 radio partners across 39 African countries to fight poverty and food insecurity. It helps African broadcasters meet the needs of small-scale farmers and their families in rural communities by providing program research and content and broadcasting training to help develop a higher standard of farm radio services. It also works with African radio stations on impact projects that address specific development challenges. FRI has received numerous awards recognizing its innovative use of radio with other information and communication technologies. For more information please visit www.farmradio.org.
About the Order of Canada
Established in 1967 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Order of Canada is the cornerstone of the Canadian honours system, recognizing outstanding achievement, dedication to the community, and service to the nation in all sectors of Canadian society. Since its creation, more than 6,000 people have been appointed to the Order, with 69 new appointees announced by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, on December 30, 2015.