Radio’s news queen: Her voice is smooth and the way she spells out each word, makes you love listening to news. Catherine Ageno, fondly known as Cathy, has been on radio for 10 years now and she met her fan Doreen Ekyam, with whom she shared her radio journey.
I am so glad to finally meet you Cathy. So what inspired your passion for radio?
My love for radio stretches way back when I was about five years old. I used to listen a lot to BBC on my dad’s small radio. Whenever he returned from work, he would tell us to keep quiet and the rest would go away because news bored them. I would stick around, not because I wanted to listen to the news, but to understand what it was all about. There is something about news that was captivating and I promised myself that one day, I would read news.
What was your breakthrough?
When you dream, you have to work at it. Of course, I went to school but I would tell myself that this is what I wanted to do. My dad, because of his teaching background, encouraged me to take that path.
He told me I could teach and at the same time read news because to him, reading news was a part-time job. I got the teaching job, and when time came to choose my career, I took on journalism. I knew he was not comfortable, but today he is so proud of me.
Did you face any challenges starting out?
Yes. The first challenge I had, was wanting to sound like the person who inspired me and that was the late Bbale Francis. I kept trying but could not sound like him, and my only consolation was that maybe he is a man and that is why I could not sound like him, but with training in broadcast, I realised that you have to be yourself when reading news.
Where did your journey start?
I was lucky to start working while studying. I started out as a Lusoga news anchor. By then I was studying at Uganda Institute of Business and Media studies but I landed a job at Lira FM in Lira Town, which is owned by my friend.
She wanted me to gain some experience and because of the big Lusoga audience that side, she told me to tap into that audience. But my challenge was that people found it hard to pin my name to what I was reading. It went well, but I got home sick. I was there for six months and just got up one morning and left for Jinja where my family is. She was disappointed.
A radio station, known as NBS radio, that had heard my voice in Lira called me and asked if I could join them. I said yes, as long as it was not reading Lusoga. I asked if I could try out English, but they refused. I had no option, so I joined as a Lusoga news anchor and presenter. I did it for some time then decided to come to Monitor Publications without papers, but just my voice.
What drives you to always wake up and go to work?
I love what I do, although sometimes I hate waking up early. I have done it for so many years but I have failed to get used to it.
Do you have time for your family?
Yes, I do but my job is more like that of a policeman. When everybody is on holiday, we are working and I do not complain about it. It is a service I am giving to the nation. But I always make time for my son and he understands.
What are your hobbies?
I love reading, cooking, and travelling, as long as it is not work-related.
What can I do to get to where you are?
If you love something, nothing can stop you. This is something you can do alongside another job.
What is that one trait people do not like about you?
I am very impatient and I keep time.
You have a nice voice, why don’t you join TV as well?
I think most of my time has been taken up by radio, but I will give it a shot.
What is that one thing you would ask for?
Patience. Because it has cost me a lot. I have lost friends, I also lost a business deal.