The Communication Department of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon was first named "Radio and Literature Department" when it started. Discussions on creating the unit probably started in the early sixties and the groundwork laid between 1966 and 1967. In 1968, effective work started in the Department with the objective of evangelization through radio. “Radio” at the time meant producing programs and broadcasting them on the government radio station in Buea, since the church did not own a radio station. The Literature dimension of the Department focused on the production of the "Messenger", a 16 page black and white magazine that published both Christian and general news items. It is not certain whether or not the Diary and Almanac was part of the literature work at the time.
The three radio programs broadcast included Presbyterian Meditation every Sunday and holy days, the news program, Presbyterian Echo, broadcast on Thursdays and Morning Devotion from Mondays to Saturdays alternating with the Baptists and the Roman Catholics.
In the course of time, those working in the Department thought the name "Radio and Literature Department" was restrictive. Consequently, the first Cameroonian Secretary of the Department, the Rev. Nyansako-ni-Nku proposed to the Synod Committee meeting in Wum and it was agreed that the name be changed from Radio and Literature Department to a more comprehensive name, "Communication Department". The change of name was thus effected in 1972 with the understanding that the new name covers a wide panorama of both the print and electronic media. With the new appellation, the Department could include print items such as newspapers, magazine, gospel tracks, diaries, almanacs and more. And in the electronic side it could have radio, audio and video productions, computers and other information technology infrastructure as well as television.
From the year of its inception, the “Radio and Literature Department” turned “Communication Department” grew amidst problems of personnel and finances. The few trained and untrained staff worked together. While the magazine died and resurrected a number of times, the number of radio programs increased from three to four and then to five, with "Our Choirs Sing" and "Days of our Life" being the new additions.
Bamenda Bureau whose rudimentary stage goes back to 1983 and 1984, started effectively in 1985 when Rev. Achowah Umenei set the firm foundation and worked in the office for five years, 1985-1989 before his transfer to Buea. The Office is officially known as the Communication Department North West Region. It has a Recording Studio and produces programs for broadcast over two Radio Stations. The Branch produces five programs over the government radio station - CRTV Bamenda and three programs over a private radio station in Mankon Town on the road to Bali, known as Radio Hot Cocoa.
The Officer in charge is called the Regional Communication Secretary North West Region.
The main work of the Communication Department is done in the headquarters in Buea where it all started in 1968. What goes on in the Department can be classified under four main sections, namely: Radio, Print, Seminars and Public Relations. Radio work is the taproot of the Presbyterian Communication Department. The Print section of Department produces an annual Church Almanac with the purpose of showing the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon in action. Every year, it receives a variety of photos from the grassroots that is, from congregations, Departments and Institutions, selects them and composes an Almanac that reflects the activities of the Church. Sometimes, certain units of the Church and Presbyteries do not send in photographs, as a result, what goes on in the areas is not reflected in the Almanac. About 5,000 copies of the Almanac or the Church in photos, go out for sale throughout the Church`s territory.
In addition to the Almanac, the Department produces the Daily Bible Readings and Diary. This publication carries the PCC lectionary for the whole year, has all the addresses of the PCC Departments and Institutions, names and telephone numbers of pastors and their parishes as well as other useful information. Some Christians have called the Diary, the "encyclopedia" of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon. The Diary is a very useful spiritual tool. The Department was producing between 20,000 and 30,000 copies annually. But since 2012, the Department produces 50.000 copies annually and they are bought by Presbyterians and Christians of other denominations. It is the most popular publication of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon and at one time was used by the Presbyterian Church of Sudan.
The "Presbyterian Messenger" is another major print item from the Presbyterian Communication Department. The quarterly magazine reports the activities of the PCC and the Church across the world. Not all the four issues come out every year due to personnel problems and the poor reading culture of Christians and the Cameroon public in general. The colored magazine is subsidized by the Church to sell at 1000 francs a copy.
CBS Radio FM 95.3
Radio is the foremost preoccupation of the Presbyterian Communication Department. When the Department started in 1968 the workers wrote their scripts in the office and took them to Radio Buea for recording and broadcast. In 1978, the Department installed a professional Recording Studio and could record its programmes and only carry the tape to Radio Buea for transmission.
As that went on, plans were afoot to open and operate a Church Radio Station. The idea ran into gear when the Cameroon government ceased having a monopoly over the airwaves, giving room for private radio stations to open and operate across the country. The Church availed herself of the opportunity and started the Christian Broadcasting Service (CBS) Radio FM 95.3. The test signals went on the air on Saturday February 21, 2004, and on February 26, 2006, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon- the then Rt Rev. Dr. Nyansako-ni-Nku dedicated the Station to the glory of God and the service of His people.
The Station produces both Christian and public affairs programmes and the signals cover the whole of Fako Division, parts of Meme and Kupe Manenguba Division, the Litoral Province and a section of Equatorial Guinea. We have a very dynamic and participatory audience in the catchment area. Besides, CBS is one of the most popular Stations among the six government and private Radio Stations in the Buea Municipality. It broadcasts in English, French and Pidgin English and will eventually have some programmes broadcast in Cameroon national languages.
Upto January 2nd 2012 the Radio Station operated in two shifts. The morning shift went from 5:30 am to 12:00 noon. While the evening shift began at 5:30 pm and ended at 10:30 pm. From 2nd January 2012, the radio now broadcasts from 5:30 am to 10:30 pm. Listeners have expressed the wish for the Station to go 24 hours, but the problem of an adequate transmitter commensurate to the load has been the handicap.
Meanwhile, CBS Radio FM 95.3 produces about 60 programmes every week. This is due to the commendable effort of 53 volunteers called Voluntary External Broadcasters (VEBS) who produce and present programmes at the Station. Not being professionals, they make mistakes but the station is indebted to them for its current performance. Workshops have been earmarked for their upgrading.
The addition of the Peace Project to the Communication Department has been a major plus. The radio play “The Ogurum Saga” is being broadcast on radio and peace programs designed that reach the public. We intend to dedicate an entire edition of the church’s magazine, the Messenger on the topic of peace and propagate this message through the various movements in the Church
Given the primodial role the CBS radio plays and the appreciation from the audience, the Synod of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, meeting at Church Centre Mankon Bamenda from 24th – 25th November 2014, resolved that the Communication Department should open another community radio in Bamenda. The site for its establishment has been identified, but funding for the equipment is the problem.
The Presbyterian Communication Department is a veritable instrument of evangelization for the Church. Besides its functions, stated above, it carries out public relations duties on behalf of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon. With the advent of the Radio Station, the Church has a landmark instrument for evangelization, information, entertainment and education of the public so that Cameroon grows and receives the life in abundance that Jesus intended. For that to happen, the Department needs more trained personnel, additional finances and material resources. Such resources from within and without the country would enhance the PCC communication ministry and empower it to work better.