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South African-born journalist, Eva Georgia, is the thirty-something year old General Manager at Radio Pacifica 90.7 KPFK in Los Angeles, California. Ms. Georgia “cut her journalistic teeth” covering the township uprisings of the early 1980s in apartheid South Africa. No stranger to radio, Eva Georgia’s career in radio started as one of the driving forces behind the conception of Radio Atlantis, a station awarded the first community radio license in the Western Cape in March 1995.
Launched in conjunction with the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU), Radio Atlantis quickly earned a reputation for tackling head on the key issues facing the community, including gang violence, police corruption, violence against women, the AIDS epidemic, and homophobia.
According to one article posted on AllAfrica.com, Eva Georgia was described as a “most dynamic and courageous woman in the development of the community.” She “identified a dire need to give the ‘lost city’ of Atlantis a voice—a place that had originally been conceived as a kind of coloured ‘volkstaat’ and had hopes of growing into a town of half a million people.”
By 1989, Atlantis had an unemployment rate of 47%, the highest per capita homicide rate in the world and a whole package of social problems. Ms Georgia was not only instrumental in campaigning for a radio license with the assistance of the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union and the local business community, but also managed the station, three fulltime presenters and 250 volunteers.
“The Atlantis Development Forum was looking for some way of reaching the community” said Ms. Georgia, “and I came up with the idea of a community radio station. I remembered as a child at home how the whole family got involved in listening to the radio—in fact, that's when I decided I wanted to go on the radio myself one day.”
Eva Georgia began setting up the radio station in 1993 where “there was absolutely no infrastructure and no one who could tell us how to go about it. Then we discovered the Community Media Network—now called the SA Community Media Network - and they help all types of community media. I started going for training—I went on every possible radio course I could get involved in, I even went for extensive management training in the US.”
Ms. Georgia’s efforts paid off. With little money and expertise, the station was said to have run on passion. The programming was 18-hours a day Monday through Friday, 24-hours Saturday - Sunday and was handled almost entirely by voluntary workers.
“It was very much community driven,” recalls Ms Georgia. “We made use of the churches, the Muslim groups, the schools, the health and welfare people—even the police had a once a week programme on crime.
“We also did a lot of educational programmes with teenagers from various schools in the area who did their own programmes. Teachers took part and those programmes were used as a form of education and entertainment.”
Ms Georgia had her own radio show on Tuesdays called “Heartbeat of the Community,” which reached a total of 75 000 listeners. Topics covered were abuse of women and children, gruesome local murders and shebeen licensing—a place or a house, within a residential area, where liquor is sold to the public.
“My programmes specifically addressed the issues of crime and prevention and specialised in breaking the silence on radio for women and children - the victims of sexual abuse, rape and molestation.
“I went through some very emotional moments during that time because women and children would talk on air about what they were going through. People were so involved in the station that they would phone us and report cases of violence and abuse before they even went to the police.
“By breaking the silence over the air, it mobilized the community—a group of women came together and campaigned for a shelter and the care centre started opening up facilities. Through the programme, hundreds of people went to counseling with Rape Crisis, Safeline and Lifeline to help t hem deal with their problems and many are still in counselling today. The police started a whole new, more sensitive process for dealing with people reporting such crimes and, in fact, we had an incredible 65% increase in interdicts aimed at protecting women and children.”
In July 1996, Ms Georgia was awarded the first certificate of merit for “combating crime through radio programming” by the Western Cape Police Commissioner.
In July 1997, Ms Georgia was awarded the first medal for the Dream Maker Award “for sharing courage and commitment in community development in making a dream come true” awarded by the Ambassador of Cincinnati. Ms Georgia was selected as the South African representative to initiate building networks in all spheres of life for sharing community development between the people of Atlantis and with Cincinnati.
She was also awarded the first community appreciation certificate for “Outstanding Performance in the Community of Atlantis,” giving recognition to outstanding leaders and role models.
Fearing for her safety and the safety of her family in South Africa, Eva was given political asylum in the United States. In a Los Angeles Times interview Ms. Georgia stated her investigative journalism and challenging questions towards the ANC regime brought her life and that of her family in danger—and forced her to leave the country.
She told of a police commissioner dying in a mysterious car accident after being assigned to investigate official corruption; about the murder of a journalist who had been subpoenaed to testify in a murder case; and how one of her friends who worked with her to probe official corruption, mysteriously disappeared.
Her breaking point came in 1999. Fearing the violence would reach her family if she continued in South Africa, Eva “fled to the United States where she was granted asylum by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service,” the Los Angeles Times reported. American and South African officials claimed in various newspaper interviews that it was “unheard of that the USA would grant political asylum to anyone from South Africa after 1994.”
In June 2002, Georgia was appointed manager of a community radio station, Pacifica 90.7 KPFK in Los Angeles, California. Pacifica is the nation's first listener-supported, community-based radio network. Along with KPFK Los Angeles, it includes KPFA Berkeley 94.1 FM, WBAI New York 99.5 FM, KPFT Houston 90.1 FM, WPFW Washington, D.C., 89.3 FM, and nearly 60 affiliates in 27 states. The network features Democracy Now!, a daily news magazine hosted by Pacifica's award-winning journalist Amy Goodman.
 Eva Georgia’s Quotes from AllAfrica.com: http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/199711250089.html
 Los Angeles Times
Web Article: Eva gave 'silent voices' a chance to be heard—Cape Argus (Cape Town) ANOL November 25, 1997 – Posted to the web November 25, 1997: http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/199711250089.html
KPFK Press Release Announcing Eva Georgia as General Manager: New Manager For Pacifica Station 90.7 FM KPFK Los Angeles—Selection Process Reflects New Democracy, Spirit of Unity http://www.pacifica.org/news/pressrelease/020605_newKPFKgm.htmlHome