Expressions Through Radio: Introduction to Xpress Radio 101

This is where i am at right now...

This is where i am at right now…

The time was 12:58.

I was seated in the Xpress Radio Studio in the presenter’s chair.

I knew what I wanted to do; I had spent two hours of an 11 degree morning in Cathays, Cardiff, preparing for it. The first episode of my one-hour radio show on campus radio in the United Kingdom!

What had I gotten myself into!!

Despite all the BBC Radio One and Talk Sport I had paid excessive amounts of minutes listening to, I realized that nothing was enough to prepare you for what was about to come.

Don’t get me wrong. The music I had chosen was great. I mean, how could I go wrong when I had folks like Iyanya, R2Bees, Whiz Kid and 2Face Idibia on my playlist? What could prevent the folks from the Afro Caribbean Society from being my very first guests on the show? I mean, I know I don’t have the best voice on the radio, but then hey, people love my voice… right?

All the same, all the real work was done. So why was I still feeling weak in my knees as a looked at the console in front of me? Why did I forget to update my Facebook Page about the show?

I will tell you.

First of all, I am surrounded by some of the most energetic and creative undergrads in the world. Their shows are really great. Here I am, 28 years old Ghanaian man, who has not completely gotten a full hang of the instruments in front of him.

Secondly, I am a freaking Postgrad! Instead of hitting my books in some gloomy library, I am here playing Azonto music! Who does that!

Thirdly I have no idea how many people like Afro Caribbean music. All I know is that the majority of the people like Fuse ODG. That’s all.

However, as I pressed the button to get the signature tune for the show started, some things happened.

Firstly, the thought hit me. I have been doing radio for the past six years for heaven’s sake. What is it about campus radio can I not do? The systems are different and very well put together but then still… What at all can I not do?

Secondly, my show is unique in so many different ways. Its Azonto music! How can I go wrong with that?

Thirdly, God dey with me! Also people like Assistant Manager, Sam, Head of DJ’s, Pri, Head of News, Sally and the woman who got me more than interested in it all, Alice, simply make it all a delight as well.

The show was good. It was not perfect, but really good. It only gets better with time. I get to relax and do something I really like. Play for the world music I really like.

Take a listen to the show if you have a chance and leave me a comment.

Rhythms Episode 1


PS: Connect to Xpress Radio via the following link:

Celebrating life with Xinyi Li

She loves the camera

I had every right to panic. My debit cards, student ID card, my two-month old oyster card and the note from my girlfriend would be gone, forever!

We had called the museum but had received no positive response. The friends we had there also said they could not find the cardholder. I was late for soccer training and had nothing but two pounds left in my wallet.

Xinyi Li repositioned her bike, swung her feet over the top tube of her bicycle and said to me, “I will do you a favour.” She set off for the museum, determined to return triumphantly with my cards. I was stunned.

Two hours prior, I would have never imagined that this 22 year old, Xujing native who possessed an International Economics and Trade degree from East China University of Political Science and law, possessed such a kind spirit and a personality so radiant and refreshing.

As I approached the massive iron gates run of the national museum that Wednesday morning; 30 minutes late for our scheduled meeting, I remembered our previous encounters and the number of times I had complained to my housemate. “She does not smile, Carla! Her answers are short and non-expressive.” How was I going to write a piece about someone I could not hold a conversation with?

Gloria, as she so quickly pointed out to me to address her by, had a demeanour that gave nothing away when she saw me. My moments as an awestruck tourist walking past the security details through one of the finest museums in the world was cut short when she said, “ You are late!”

As we walked through the corridors of the decades-old museum, I came to understand why those words were the first uttered to me. “I like it when things are repetitive and have structure,” she pointed out to me as we stared at the collection of cups from the Alexandria ages.

For an economist, i wondered why she spoke ever so fondly of art and history. Why she took such lovely photos on her Canon (I love Canon too). Why she found Greek mythology so intriguing.

She loves life.

She loves the essence of it all. The expression. The emotion. The connections that existed between expressionist art, contemporary art and modern art. The grace with which she describes The Gift of the Artists by Edith Dowing from 1930 for example showed clearly why she had chosen the course she had.

She comes from Shangai where the population is on average, 23 million. She is the only child of a banker father and housewife mother. She grew up on a farm. She remains till date one of the only Chinese people I have met with such an immense sense of the natural world and loves life.

In the natural history section for example, she tells me she will not stand in the sea because of the level of pollution of the waters in China. She says you will find plastics, boxes, batteries and complains about how pollution is so serious. She loves life.


We spend over 45 minutes in the natural history section of the museum peering into bottles and through glasses containing organisms long ago forgotten about by mankind. However not once does she show a sign of exhaustion or boredom. She is fascinated.

The animals seem to bring her some level of joy and satisfaction though as she pointed out, she hates dead animals because they are smelly. She loves the birds, the red fox with its eyes so realistic. She loves the animals with four feet – they seem more alive. She truly loves life.

A writer, a believer in fine art, a Tchaikovsky loving Chinese lady, a lover of life.

Not bad.

It’s not everyday i get this lucky.

Are you straight?


Carla, my Portuguese housemate (peace sign) and Petra my Crotian course mate are the most visible in this picture. The other two ladies in the background are Italians; Carolina and Laura. Chiara, has the brown bag.

For a select group of persons who have come to know me well, this question should set them smiling. For those who are yet to make my acquaintance, I should imagine this will get you wondering two things by now – the writer and his chums will find it amusing.

Well, the question managed to get itself wedged in my mind after they erupted from the lips of a 15-year old looking bloke who was gyrating to some Beyoncé-like mumble on a night when I made the brave decision to explore the decades-old metropolis on a windy Saturday night.

What a welcome it was.

It was a night of mixed emotions as my course mates and I had spent half of it looking for a nice place to have fun, which turned out to be a night of club hopping basically.

After 30 minutes at a place where the master/mistress of ceremonies happened to be a transvestite, we thought, “this could not get any worse!”

It did.

As I danced the evening away with some Italian ladies who I had just met that night, completely oblivious of what was happening around me, I felt a tap on my shoulder.

There stood a young man I believe was in his early teens; smiling and gazing upon me like he had just discovered a gem in the heart of a coal mine. He leaned forward and asked me: Are you straight?

As the words sunk into my mind and clutched at meaning, felt that familiar tingle: the one you get when you know you are far away from home.

I have been away from my home country, Ghana for three weeks now. I am studying International Journalism at Cardiff University. Yet, none of that prepares you for your fair share of some rude awakening.

Nothing prepares you for the intriguing smiles that greet you at every turn, partly because you are new in town and partly because the smiles are coming from people who are in the same situation as you. The Chinese, I must say, are quite guilty of this lovely attribute.

Nothing prepares you to deal with overcoming some of the rather skewed stereotypes associated with several cultures and peoples from across the world. “Keep and open mind, but guard it all the same,” wise words from a good friend were apt for maneuvering some of those touchy waters.

Arriving in Oyibo land

From Left: Abu, Sadister and me at Cardiff Airport

However, when another man, in a presence of three stunning females walks up to you and asks, “Are you straight?” its hard to tell you how to react.

I will however tell you what I did.

I put my hands on his shoulders, looked him dead in the face and said, “I am, sorry.”

One of the girls almost screamed out, “I told you, I told you. We were trying to hook you up with him. I told you. Where are you from?”

Through all of this, I just stood there and took it all in. I truly was away from home. A slap or yell or an insult or a combination of both would have been the fate of that poor young man if he had made a pass at me in a Ghana bar or club.

But then, I was away from home.

The adventures are numerous. The experiences are uncountable.

One thing rings true though; Humanity is a wonderful thing.