Every year we like to bring together our broadcasting partners for an online eDiscussion. This is an opportunity for broadcasters to share their questions and experiences with each other, so that they can learn from each other and subject-matter specialists.
This year’s topic was our most popular yet: Generating revenue for your farmer program.
Our broadcasting partners are radio stations of all types and sizes, including community, commercial and national radio stations, as well as farmers’ groups and NGOs working with radio partners.
Many of them face funding challenges. While flagship programs, like sports, politics, or music, might have sponsorship or air advertisements, it is often difficult to find funding for agriculture or community development programs.
Before the eDiscussion started, we surveyed our broadcasting partners to learn what they wanted to discuss about generating revenue for their radio program. We shaped the discussion topics around the most popular choices, asking our participants to share their successes and challenges on:
- Knowing your audience. How can you turn your listenership into money?
- What are the best sources of revenue? How can you diversify revenue?
- Using social media to generate revenue for your farmer program.
In total more than 100 people from 24 countries participated, including hosts, presenters, reporters, station managers, and others. The discussion was very active for the full four weeks, both on our eDiscussion platform and on WhatsApp.
Many broadcasters exchanged ideas about using social media for their radio program. While many stations have a Facebook page and WhatsApp number, Stephen Ainganiza had a very innovative idea. At Voice of Toro in Uganda, they use WhatsApp to gather announcements from listeners in villages all throughout their broadcast range. Agents in rural areas will collect announcements — such as birth or funeral announcements — and send the information to the radio station immediately so it can be broadcast on the next program. The agent will bring the payment for the announcement to their monthly face-to-face meeting. Voice of Toro is also using social media to share some audio clips from their programs.
Throughout the discussion, our moderators, Busi Ngcebetsha from South Africa and Meli Rostand from Cameroon, encouraged broadcasters to interact with each other and provide more details, and Denis Lindo provided guidance based on his long career in broadcasting. Denis is the CEO of SMEDA & Associates in Uganda, and was formerly the station manager of 104.1 Power FM.
We asked the participants what went well and how we can improve next time, and they were still thirsty for more information on both generating revenue and using social media. But they were also pleased with what they did learn from the discussion.
Catherine Apalat is a broadcaster from Mama FM in Uganda, and she told us, “I liked most the contributions from the participants from other countries. They have eye-opening ideas that can work for my radio station, too, like having a demonstration farm at the radio station for learning purposes.”
Four weeks isn’t enough time to explore the huge topic of generating revenue, but we hope the discussion gave broadcasters some new ideas. We have also developed a Broadcaster how-to guide and online learning module to help them continue to think through this important topic.