March 1, 2010

Allow me to introduce myself

 

As the new CEO of smallpower, I thought it would be fitting to properly introduce myself on this blog. After all, it is my hope that through this blog I will be able to communicate directly with readers about our shows, life in Kinshasa and what it's like to produce media in an environment as, well, how should I put it—"distinctive"—as what we encounter here in the DR Congo. This is truly a unique country and I am proud to say that the work smallpower is doing is equally as amazing.

I say that not just because every CEO should be proud of their employees and the products they produce but because the obstacles that each of our staff must overcome just by living here and yet still manage to produce content at world class standards. It's truly remarkable. With only a handful of expatriate staff, the vast majority of our team are compromised of Congolese and other Africans who now live in Kinshasa.

For most of them, just getting to work is a challenge unimaginable to most Europeans and Americans. Two, sometimes three, hours EACH way walking or sharing crammed "taxis" (I put it in quotes because they are not really "taxis" similar to anything we are familiar with in the west) and enduring year-round 90+ degree tropical heat. Throughout my 25 years in the media business I have never seen producers, actors, camera operators overcome so much to work in a business that many of us in the West take for granted. It's truly inspiring.

I arrived just over a week ago from Los Angeles where I was the Vice President of News and Programming at KSCI TV, the largest Asian-language television station in the United States. I ran a team that produced content in four major Asian languages including Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Tagalog (Filipino) for an immigrant population of some two million people across Southern California. Prior to my work at KSCI, I was a reporter and producer at several of the world's largest news companies including CNBC, CNN and the BBC World Service in London.

For most of my professional career, I have been focused on Asian affairs, particularly in China. I lived and worked in China for almost 10 years and I have been studying the language for nearly 25 years. Never in my wildest imagination did I think that speaking Mandarin in a place like Kinshasa would actually be an asset. However, with the surge of Chinese investment across Africa, and especially here in the DRC, those Mandarin skills may actually come in handy.

So I come to this job with a mix of confidence and tremendous humility. The Congolese culture is among the most incredible I have experienced anywhere and learning the subtleties of how to create world class media content that simultaneously informs, educates and entertains this audience will be a remarkable challenge. Along the way, I will be eager to receive your feedback (good, bad and ugly) on how we are doing and if you are interested in learning more about what smallpower is doing here in Kinshasa. Feel free to contact me directly via email at eric@smallpower.org—and I promise to reply as soon as possible!

It's nice to meet you.

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