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Radio, the powerful, silent development partner

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Added 30th August 2019 12:34 PM

Radio is by far still the most consumed mass medium in Uganda and most parts across the globe compared to other forms of media such as TV, Print and most recently social media.

Radio, the powerful, silent development partner

Radio is by far still the most consumed mass medium in Uganda and most parts across the globe compared to other forms of media such as TV, Print and most recently social media.

BY Adii Fred Max

Radio is by far still the most consumed mass medium in Uganda and most parts across the globe compared to other forms of media such as TV, Print and most recently social media. Whereas other media combines text, audio and visual, Radio is an only audio channel making it more user-friendly, relatively cheap to own and easy to maintain.

The use of radio has evolved alongside technological advancement over the years. Today, radio applications can be integrated with mobile phones hence boosting its intake by different audiences across various demographics. Radio is now more portable and accessible with clearer signals compared to TV and the internet that require electricity, antennas and data bundles before accessing their services. Such convenience and the variety of its services, make radio the most preferred medium of communication in delivering information in a developing country.

During a nation-wide operation wealth creation tour, President Yoweri Museveni utilized over 250 radio stations across Uganda to sensitize the public on wealth creation. This was the best choice of reaching out to the wanainchi on this initiative. This is why developmental partners should greatly consider using radio stations while reaching out to different communities in the country to achieve an impact in different program implementations such as wealth creation, health and education.

Last year in August we saw a sharp shortfall in maize prices which left many farmers registering losses. This problem was worsened by lack of market and storage information before, during and after harvesting their produce. Just this week, tomato farmers in the Elgon region have decried low prices of their products with a basin of tomatoes going for only 4,000/= from 20,000/=. Similarly this week, tea farmers in Adjumani are reported to have disserted their tea gardens due to lack of markets.

Lack of access to information which can equip farmers with proper management of their farms and livestock on where to sell their products at good prices without being cheated by middlemen can be eliminated by utilization of the radio. The fact that radio can easily be accessed by farmers across the country is a good reason to engage it in some of these ways;

Radio can be used in addressing knowledge gaps experienced by farmers and communities at large. Some of the knowledge farmers need include where to buy the right variety of seeds, livestock and poultry breeds, medicines, feeds, weather forecast patterns and changes, market prices both locally and globally, and so on. Radio stations in partnership with government and development partners can easily disseminate this information and package it in a form that can be consumed and understood by any layperson. This might actually be the number one capital farmers need to succeed in their business because without this information then their labour is in vain.

Most radio station journalists are trained to deconstruct complex information in a form that is beneficial to its audiences and this is what makes some radios preferred to others. Because of this ability some radio stations have maintained market leadership but, this is a topic for another day.

Radio is also a capacity building and training tool development partners have not fully explored. Some organizations would rather organize seminars and conferences for a week in a hotel and yet the equivalent of this cost can buy them airtime on radio for a whole month or more while reaching out to more potential targets. 95.7 Fm, Radio Rupiny in Gulu has a program called Acam Kwoka (Eat my sweat) which gives out practical wealth creation tips to communities in the Acholi sub-region. Another example is 100.5 Bukedde Fm which also has a program called Ensi Kuyiiya, which basically looks at giving business, farming and wealth creation knowledge to grass-root persons. Such programs tackle different topics from, mindset building to practical day to day profitable business management and sustainability. Radio stations can and should be fully utilized to build capacity in wealth creation because they know the community they are operating in and have built means of engaging their audience including monitoring and receiving feedback.

Perhaps rallying and mobilization should have been the starting role performed by radio stations in the wealth creation process. This stems from the fact that different radio stations have built a rapport with their audiences. This then makes it easy for the audience to embrace programs and initiatives promoted by radio stations.

From the diffusion of innovation theories which helps us understand how fast or hesitant individuals are in accepting new ideas or innovations, constant promotion of ideas or innovations using radio stations makes majority or listeners fall under the bracket of early adopters who will welcome ideas much faster than others, with a small percentage of laggards who take more than necessarily long to accept innovations. It's therefore very crucial to use a radio station in mobilizing and rallying masses to accept initiatives.

Through feedback from audiences, radio can also be a monitoring and evaluation tool through which one can tell how a program has performed. Radio stations have the capacity to record and archive feedback from stakeholders through different channels. Corruption issues were unearthed within the judiciary under a partnership initiative between Vision Group and DGF in which Vision Group radios participated. Radios are able to voice feedback from participants in the field. Through such interactions organizations are able to gather data for decision making and accountability purposes.

In a nutshell, we can, therefore, agree that radios have untapped potential in leading communities to middle-income status through developmental information that transforms how communities think and act towards wealth creation initiatives whether from government or private sector. It should, therefore, be a conscience and deliberate decision taken by radio station operators, government, organizations and development partners to channel out information that encourages the public in realizing this dream.


Adii Fred Max

A Master's in Journalism and Communications Student

Makerere University.

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