Crystal Newman on The Need To Tell More of Our Stories

“The success of the journey depends on the load you carry home,” says an old African adage. This is simply because for every journey that starts has to stop somewhere. For Crystal, her journey on radio had to come to an end 18 years later. Little did she know that, with her, she had carried a great load. The load was one of hunger and thirst to tell more stories. It is like she had just started scratching the ground when she bowed out. But again every journey has to come to an end. And so was her journey with radio yet the stories needed to be told. To be heard. To be shared. Thanks to the digital space, she did not have to look very far. And that is how she started her YouTube channel, Crystal 1 on 1.

“It’s always joyous to do something that you’re passionate about. And that’s one thing that I have always done. I have always loved media. You can never tell where the years have gone,” she tells me with her eyes searching in the space looking back in time.

Having studied mass communication at Makerere University, she knew, crystal clear, that she was cut out for media. Broadcast media to be precise. This was way before she met Coco Banton and Nash Kiwanuka who introduced her to radio. It was something imprinted on her mind as early as a senior two chorister at Makerere College School.

When the door opened at Sanyu Fm, she just plugged in. Unlike what they say that rest is history, hers was a new career on the roll. Sanyu Fm gave her the platform to use her voice to reach out to as many people as the waves could go.

“There’s a lot of joy in the media. You get to meet many people and they all impact your life,” she informs me. This explains the amount energy she put in her work for the years to have passed by without notice.

However, for her case, it was more than that. The ability to be flexible and open to new challenges has always kept her going. Her friends have told her, time and again, that she is a very determined person. That once she sets out to do something, she does it. And she always does it well.

To Crystal, this is not something that just came up during her time of working as a radio personality, it is more than that.  It is the nurturing.

Growing up with three elder sisters, she appreciated the value of hard work. “We grew up working. Work, to me, has never been an inconvenience.” From her childhood, she has had to learn to complete what she starts and to give it her very best. Her time at Sanyu FM speaks clearly of this. “I worked on almost all the shows at Sanyu during my stay and it was all fun to me. Along the way, I worked with different people all of whom I enjoyed working with.”

“Once your intentions are clear, then you are assured of good results.” It is this kind of work ethic that enabled her to run for all those years on radio while doing her other things. “I have always done more than one thing,” she reveals to me. This can be traced as far as her childhood.

In her primary school days at Buganda Road, Crystal was more of a tomboy. She was doing a number of school activities. One thing that fully occupied her was sports. From tennis, to javelin, to athletics, and swimming. All these she did with a lot of ease. This trend of being a very active person followed her through the rest of her life. And that’s how she unceremoniously started her working life. Working as a swimming instructor during her school holidays and earning some pocket money for herself.

That would lead her to working 10 hours straight in the night at Gatwick Airport at a McDonald’s for her entire senior six vacation. When she returned home to pursue her university, she could not afford to sit back through the day as an evening student. She had to find something to do. It was during that time that she joined Sanyu FM. “One day, a window opened. One of the presenters was leaving the country and they needed someone to stand in. I came in as a dangerous substitute.”

One thing strikes me though. For all her years on radio, she stayed with Sanyu FM. She never considered crossing to other stations. This does not mean she was never approached. “Those offers were always there but that wasn’t for me. I love being loyal,” she laughs off shyly.

Crystal believes that if you want to do something, you have to do it very well. Good results do not mind location. They are just that. It is such results that kept her doing the “Hit Selector” show every Saturday for 13 years without a break. In this show, she played all the music there was but the most interesting bit was having to host a celeb with whom they got to choose the music.

Little known to her, something was brewing during this show. The guests would share their life stories in a less serious way as the music played. Yet the details of their conversations went deep and touched many. It was then that she realised these and more stories had to be told. But beyond the telling, they needed to be archived.

“There are many options and opportunities today than before. And looking at the digital space, there’s a lot that has not been touched. There’s need to tell the world who we are. We need to redefine ourselves. We have the opportunity of telling our stories the way we want to.  That’s when it occurred to me that I could run a YouTube channel.”

As a career woman, she has seen a number of things happen to women at the work space. She believes women should be respected and their decisions should be taken seriously.

One time while reflecting on her life, Crystal asked God to give her a chance to work on a project that would make a difference in people’s lives. Today, her prayer has been answered. Apart from her day to day work as a media personality, she is a good will ambassador with Red Cross Uganda and together they are working on a project of keeping girls in school by providing them with sanitary ware. “I believe there’s something that everyone can do to make a difference in another person’s life. And that’s what I’m pursuing.”

“The ground is levelled for everyone to work. We should strive to be understood in whatever we do. If we could understand each other better, we could make a difference. We are beyond the world of roles and we should learn to take on more responsibilities. We have to be open to failure. We fear failing yet failure is part of life. We can be more if we choose to.”



You can subscribe to Crystal’s YouTube Channel Here




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