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Biira: TV and radio star

Joy Doreen Biira is a presenter on Capital FM and news anchor on NBS television. Johnson Grace Muganja had a chat with her and below are excerpts:

Who is Joy Doreen Biira?

Joy Doreen Biira is a Mukonzo/Rwenzururu born in1986 to Mr and Mrs John Manimba Baluku. She has one sister and five brothers, two of them half brothers. She is the fifth among the five. For her education, she went to Kasese Primary School (PLE), Kyebambe Girls’ School (UCE) and Immaculate Heart High (UACE) then Makerere University.

As a child what did you dream of being in future?

I had lots of dreams - from being a soldier (I loved the camouflage uniform) to being a doctor (father influence) to being a lawyer, fashion icon and journalist. As a kid, I was exposed to lots of reading material.

My parents bought magazines, newspapers, self-help books, etc. I remember loving cars after seeing Michael Schumacher in the sport pages almost everyday. So my head was a little world that dreamed of being many things.

Are you married?

No, not yet!

What are the qualities of your ideal man?

There’s no such thing as ideal man...even Barrack Obama once smoked, hahaha... However, intelligence, confidence, progress, humour, fun and sense of style would be great in someone I would love to spend my life with.

What inspired you to join the media?

The need to make a difference in other people’s lives. First I’ll say I loved the media from my young days but never thought I would end up where I am. But in school, my interest was media. I guess I was unconsciously

being groomed into media through my interests. Then during my S.4 vacation, I read news at Messiah radio in Kasese; I was only 16. While the gig was intended to keep me busy, it helped strengthen my aspirations.

I give thanks to my parents, Messiah radio, Archie Luyimbazi, Irene Birungi Mugisha, Irene Zikusoka, all NBS/Capital staff and all those I‘m yet to learn from.

What was your experience the first time you went on television?

Oh! it was like a good movie gone bad. The pressure was up there from management (knowing I had no prior experience apart from the training I got before the show started). Everything was too much; the make up, bright lights, cameras and then on air.

I still recall how I blinked, the nerves and just how I nearly flipped a newspaper upside down because of the nerves. But I’m glad I went through that. Working with Shawn [Kimuli] helped calm the nerves.

What about your first time on radio?

After going through the auditions, my real first show had less pressure compared to TV. Hakeem and Ramesh made me feel comfortable. You know the feeling of not being in there alone. Despite that, I was nervous just like anybody else would be.

Towards the end, people were asked to call in and give the verdict whether I should stay on the show. I recall one listener saying, ‘put her straight on the payroll’ and that gave me confidence.

How do you juggle television and radio work?

Both undoubtedly require time, knowledge, research, appearance, communication and presentation skills. Television, though, is more critical in terms of intellect/knowledge and appearance. But with both, if you connect with the audience, then you’ve got it straight. I love both - it’s like doing international relations for an overseas company.

Tell us about the challenges as a radio presenter.

So far, in my opinion, there’s not any. Critical to note, though, is that I got to keep in mind the already existing listeners and the new ones as I connect with them in their different age groups. Doing all that needs quite a slice of God’s extra dose of patience.

Any challenges on television?

It’s almost like radio; the only difference is that television is visual. Whether you are having a good or bad day, no one needs to know; just do your job. And it’s just like technology - all-round knowledge about anything comes in handy. Like they say, ‘there’s no such thing as useless knowledge’ on TV. So, the challenge is to always be informed.

Best moment on television?

All my moments on TV are memorable but I think the February general elections by far are it. We worked almost day and night making sure we got the notes right. Teamwork was excellent. For me, the feedback through mail and the social networks appreciating work well done couldn’t be more satisfying.

And on radio?

The caller who said, ‘put her straight on the payroll’ did it for me. It might be because of that caller that I believed I could actually do radio too.

Who is your mentor?

People have trained and mentored me on the job and those are quite a number.

How do you spend your free time?

I rarely have free time. Apart from TV/radio, I’m a speaker and social media trainer/activist as well as a nature loving environmentalist; so, that consumes most of my time. I speak to different kinds of people ranging from those in my career path to ICTs. But I do write during my free time, hang out with friends and go to church on Sundays.

What advice do you have for the young people?

Reach high for the stars hidden in your soul. Dream deep for every dream precedes the goal and know the secret of getting ahead is getting started. Get to know and associate with people who will help you reach for the stars.

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