Learning about the state of radio in francophone West Africa

This summer, researcher Meli Rostand visited radio stations in Mali and Burkina Faso to understand the work broadcasters are doing and how they are meeting the needs and interests of their audience.
This research is an extension of the African Rural Radio Program Analysis, which seeks to understand the state of farm radio programming in Africa. Meli is bringing this research to francophone West Africa.
Meli spent three weeks in Mali this summer before heading to Burkina Faso. While in Mali, he visited three radio station: Radio Welena of Nossombougou in Kolikani, Radio Etoile in Zana and ORTM Regional Station, located in Koulikaro.
Lamine Togola, presently a volunteer with FRI, compiled this audio slideshow to showcase Meli’s research process.
Here is Radio Welena, the first station visited by the African Rural Radio Program Analysis team. To begin, the team met with the radio station personnel alongside local authorities. During this meeting, the director of the radio station with given an envelope of content.
The consultant began his interviews with the director, and then the two hosts of an agricultural radio program.
A meeting with listeners is an important step in this investigation, when the farmers have a chance to say what they think of the radio programming produced for their benefit, and they participate with enthusiasm.
This visit to the station also gives the team an opportunity to observe farmers in action.

Interviews with station staff provided Meli with a picture of how radio stations produce their shows and what capacity they have for creating entertaining, informative content. One episode from each station will then be compared with FRI’s VOICE standards, standards which emphasize valuing, including, informing, respecting and entertaining farmers.
The key findings of ARRPA were released in 2014:
— Farmers listen to the radio to get information from both experts and other farmers.
— Including the voices of farmers is crucial to any farmer program.
— Stations need training to deliver effective farmer programming.
— The biggest challenges to producing effective farmer programs are finances, technical issues, and transportation to the field.
— Farmer programs are more effective when stations use formats that encourage discussion and interaction.
— A station’s financial resources do not necessarily correlate with the quality of its farmer programs.
— Rural radio broadcasters need more content on regional rather than continent-wide issues.
— Rural radio broadcasters need more practical “how-to” resources that respond to their professional needs.
Download the report.

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