Now probably one of the top three most popular shows at NTV, The Trend was not always hosted by Larry Madowo.
It was the brainchild of James Smart, who hosted it for a few months before leaving NTV for KTN. Many will probably agree that it got better after Madowo took over, but a lot of credit must go to James for setting the stage, and successfully overcoming initial difficulties.
In a blog post on Jamessmart.co.ke, James Smart writes about some of these difficulties. Read it below.
Some time in June 2012, a new talk show #TheTrend graced television screens courtesy of NTV.
I had spent more than six months working, and proposing the show to my executives, NTV was at this time looking to find a new niche in the market and it was quite a progressive newsroom too, at the time.
Under the leadership of Linus Kaikai leading the orchestra as the managing editor, the Mesut Ozil giving everyone assists to score goals in the pitch was Joe Ageyo -news producer, and the bedrock of contacts Emmanuel Juma heading news.
So, one of earlier shows, and one of my favorites, I should add, featured KPLC boss Eng. Joseph njoroge. I will not labor the point that the power company doesn’t have many fans in Kenya; too frequent power blackouts end up creating trending topics, dissatisfied #KOT’s always turned the heat and make their disappointment known.
The motivation to have eng. Kamau on the show was to allow many Kenyan’s the chance to air their views, ask questions directly to the person in charge and for the newsroom through the show to give the issue context and pace.
The stage was set by one classic piece by John Allan Namu; one of the best news stories yet written in my opinion, then as fate would have it, I launched Kenyans through twitter, SMS’s, and phone on the good engineer. A gentleman frustrated by KPLC inefficiencies for over 10 years called and cornered the engineer about an issue that apparently was being dealt with by his own office, the gentleman called twice. The engineer couldn’t answer. Another Kenyan on twitter angered by the responses of the engineer asked if the CEO hated Kenyans.
Never before had Kenyans had an opportunity to question ‘authority’ if you like. We had so many tweets that night that #Thetrend trended, tweet after tweet, a rebuttal I would argue, if a question wasn’t answered satisfactorily the look out mob would tweet in and called it out. A new way of doing things was born right before our eyes. I concede we were not that technically polished at the time to take all this merger of traditional television and new media live very well but we managed, somehow. I was also new and green launched into the deep of talk show, I survived.
But I am digressing, back to the show and needless to say I wasn’t very popular with KPLC boss and the company threatened to pull out advertisement from Nation Media group. All in a days (nights) work.
Weeks later we perfected the art, we were a bit better in presenting people’s views on the news in real time through #TheTrend we tried to question authority with the public, we had to find a balance between finding ‘relevant’ trends to the wider public and #KOT ‘inside joke’ if you will.
The idea of the program was simply to find a new way to indulge young audience without trivializing matters with issues that matter most, matters of governance, public, politics and the future. Sure, there were moment we had fun, when Miguna miguna had written his famous book peeling back the Mask, he chose to sit with me to answer to the publics numerous questions. A teen group of 16 year olds coined a catchy tune ‘come baby come’ we got hold of them and together produced a video that even Miguna watching it for the first time afforded a smile.
#Thetrend was always going to stand at a peculiar but not new position in journalism, with the immense help of Joe Ageyo and Linus Kaikai I had to be clear on every interview we conducted; was it in PUBLIC INTEREST or to INTEREST THE PUBLIC.
The former bares the hallmark of what journalism is, a calling, finding ways to make what’s important to the public interesting while the latter is simply for say; website hits, ratings and or popularity.