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How Community Radio Spreads Information – Part 1

Radio can be a powerful tool, not just in the good times but also in times of disaster and emergency. Radio has a major benefit in that it has the unique ability to raise awareness to the biggest number of people in the quickest possible time frame.

Yes, you can also say the same about social media but for this internet connection is key. Radio signals are born on the airways and are constantly being transmitted regardless of power or cables. Therefore, in such dire times radio’s impact can be far greater and more effective.

Key Factors

  • Radio can pass the word for a quick mobilization of people to ensure the strongest response.
  • Messages passed on by radio can turn the listener into somebody that previously was passive into an active citizen.
  • Radio can act as part of a government campaign or non-government.
  • Radio is a vital resource in times of emergency, and community radio especially as is highly efficient in knowing the local people and surrounding area and infrastructure.

The Early Days of Radio

The first real radio transmission was in 1906, when Canadian inventor Reginald Fessenden broadcasted a mixed program of music and voice to ship radio officers on Christmas Eve. In the many years since then AM frequency has bought entertainment and news to masses of people. A quote from a magazine (Popular Science Monthly) related just how popular radio had become in 1922, America has been blanketed by wireless news and music.The decline of Radio came in the 1950’s with the invention of television, and further erosion of listening numbers have been caused by the podcast and the internet. But this decline must be taken in the correct perspective, in many countries especially developing ones, radio is still highly important.

The Early Days of Radio

Radio can spread information to everybody and anybody, it is a deeply democratic medium, it does not matter if you live in a city or in the country, if you are rich or poor, if you are wise or stupid, radio can help to spread information to a country from the inside.

Promotion of Community Wellness

Some countries still have a system that the only radio allowed is state radio operated by the government. In fact till just recently Kenya only had one radio station, and it was state owned, but twenty years ago the Kenyan government started to sell broadcasting licenses.

In 2018 there are now dozens of community based radio stations in Kenya. Some of these stations are nicknamed as slum radio, and broadcast many public health issues, and a recent poll amplified that over eighty percent of listeners said that the new radio stations gave out information that was beneficial to their everyday lives. If we take into account that Kenya has five percent of its population living with HIV then this information is critical. The power of radio is still significant in many ways and in many places. In more rural and undeveloped areas it is still the primary source for the distribution of mass information. After all, unlike the internet or TV, not every household needs a radio, one per village is sufficient, and in part two of this blog we discover other ways how community radio spreads information.