Ebru TV, buoyed by funding from new investors, has embarked on a recruitment drive to strengthen its newsroom. The company has lost lately lost journalists after falling victim to predatory attacks by leading TV stations looking for anchors and reporters as well as organisations seeking to recruit communication managers.
An emboldened Ebru with a financial muscle from its new owner Ali Jamah, a Kenyan tycoon from the Somali community, has hired six new anchors both for English and Swahili by raiding local radio stations and one television.
The new Kiswahili anchors include Millia Kisienya from KU TV and Busara Naaman from Qwetu Radio. One of the two will replace Victor Wetende who left recently to join Vihiga County government as the director of communication.
English anchors recruited recently are Eric Munene from Homeboyz radio, Kenneth Kazungu from Radio Waumini and Marion Kisoso, formerly of Hot96 and Citizen. Marion is the reigning Miss Kajiado.
The headhunting at Ebru TV is led by Victoria Amunga, who was recently elevated to head of news, as she moves to build a new team to take on reloaded news presentation teams at most of its rival stations. Citizen has packed together a dream team of mostly prominent names led by former NTV general manager Linus Kaikai, while K24 has gone for KTN prime time celebrity anchor Betty Kyalo to lead its charge.
The battle for eyeballs, and advertising shillings by extension, has become vicious, with poaching of presenters hitting a high over the past few months. BBC, which has expanded its media business in the region, has also heightened the talent hunt by poaching more than 20 broadcast journalists from across the station.
This has raised the price tag for experienced presenters and small operators like Ebru TV are being forced to look for talent down market and groom them on the job. NTV has adopted a similar model of poaching from smaller rivals.
The presence of new managers has raised hopes of a revival at Ebru TV, making it the station to watch over the next one year. If it claws up the market and beats any of its bigger rivals, it will raise questions on whether big names really bring in the audience.