In 2021-22, Farm Radio’s work reached 24.5 million listeners. It’s a huge number — but how do we come to it?
The answer is, simply, by using a map.
In essence, we needed to know a couple of things: where, geographically, do radio stations signals reach, and how many people live in those areas.
Using information like the location, height, gain and power of a station’s transmitter, we can determine geographically where a station’s broadcasts reach. Then, we overlay these maps with combined statistical area (CSA) population maps. These allow us to see how many people live in what areas, and thus measure how many people live within a station’s broadcast zone.
This is what we mean when we talk about reach, coverage and total potential audience (or potential listeners). In essence, it’s the total number of people who can listen to our programs — and we determine it through maps.
When we have this information, our Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) team can use it, in combination with surveys done with areas within that audience, to determine how many people actually listen to the program (listeners), and how many people applied a new practice. Using data from the surveys, we extrapolate the number of listeners using our potential audience number.
On average, we find that 40 to 60 per cent of potential listeners tune in to our radio programs regularly, and of those listeners, 20 per cent apply at least one new recommended practice.
But, we can always improve! We’re doing some work to improve our mapping over the next few months. Right now, they take a lot of human resources to complete. Our Digital Innovations team is streamlining our system, resulting in a program where we can do this quickly, with maps available on demand. In the end, we hope to fully be able to map our reach across the continent.
But it’s not just us this benefits. For a radio station, this information can be invaluable.
Knowing who listens to your programs and where they live, helps broadcasters ensure their programs are relevant to their audiences. It also means they can better market their station to sponsors, resulting in increased revenue and the ability to offer better, more thorough and consistent programming.
When Farm Radio works with stations as part of a project we provide these stations with a printed map.
“What we are offering is data for the radio station,” says Nathaniel Ofori, Farm Radio’s Digital Innovation Manager, noting that he’s seen many stations hang the maps in their lobbies. “It goes beyond content.”
We’re not afraid to say it, maps are cool.