Farmer program e-course shows broadcasters value of connecting with audience

Sakina Majawa Kaima is an experienced farm radio broadcaster. She currently hosts two shows on Malawi’s Chanco Radio that address two important issues facing farmers: soil fertility and climate change.

Sakina already uses community listening groups to hear from her audience. “These were set up by the radio station so that the farmers can give us feedback on the programs, so that we can continually improve the content,” she said.

But with FRI’s farmer program e-course, Sakina learned new ways of connecting to her listeners, including how to set up a voice survey so her listeners could answer questions about the radio program. Sakina’s survey gathered demographic information while also giving listeners a chance to share their thoughts for improving the program.

The 12-week e-course, which ran in fall 2014, covered the importance of storytelling, where to find useful resources for information, and how to plan an engaging program. Participants also learned about how to best use feedback from their audience, such as using it to understand the major issues facing their farming community.

As a final assignment, participants were asked to submit a program line-up, including a current information item, discussion of a major issue, and market information. Sakina was one of the winners, earning mobile credit as her prize.

Sixty-five participants from 41 radio stations and organizations benefited from this training. Each was connected with an experienced radio broadcaster from Canada, Europe or Africa throughout the e-course. Sakina was one of the 19 women who completed the course and received a certificate.

She said the e-course has given her a few more tips to keep in mind when developing engaging farmer programs. “The e-learning course will help me improve my productions, as I will concentrate on applying the VOICE standards and being gender-aware.”

FRI’s VOICE standards emphasize providing value to listeners, providing an opportunity for listeners to speak and be heard, providing needed information consistently and conveniently, and providing entertainment to listeners. These standards are a core focus of all of FRI’s training and broadcaster resources, which include training sessions, how-to documents in resource packages, and Barza Discussions.

The farmer program e-course was made possible because of funding from the Commonwealth of Learning and the Government of Canada through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.

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