FM Radios for Social Development A Case Study of Zami FM 90.7 and Sheger FM 102.1

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Addis Ababa University


The study aims to develop knowledge on how FM radios (private) are promoting social development issues to improve the public’s welfare. The study uses development media theory and social responsibility theory to explain the responsibility that the private broadcasters have in treating educational and socially relevant themes (pro social messages). The empirical data was collected through four focus group discussions (with a total of 22 FM radio listeners) and individual interviews (which are entirely qualitative) with two radio editors and two reporters. The Focus Group Discussion (FDG) and individual interviews were conducted from May10 to May 15, 2010. The FDG was conducted with FM radio listeners in Asko (Kolfe Karaneo sub city) and Shiromeda (Gulalle sub city) of Addis Ababa. This study treated the types of educational development programs that the FM radios broadcast, audiences’ perception to the private FM radios contribution to social development and the editors and reporters view of the radios role in enhancing educational development messages. Accordingly, the findings of this study show that the private FM radios have created programs that are entertaining, educational, socially responsible and commercially profitable. The FM radio stations devote a reasonable percentage of their broadcasting time to the discussion of public issues of interest i.e. educational and socially relevant issues. The radio stations have been reflecting and promoting local identity, character and culture by focusing on local content. They are also assisting the dissemination of expert and social knowledge on topics of interest to general listeners as well as NGOs and other institutions engaged in social transformation in Ethiopia. These FM radio stations have been successful in bringing educational development issues in to public deliberations. The study also found that the FM radio stations produce radio programs jointly with development partners who work on development and broadcast a variety of educational development themes over the last two years. The educational development themes that the FM radio stations broadcast include culture (language and literature, music and poetry) and environmental issues, health education, family planning, gender issues, science and technology, rights of the disabled, marriage and family values. These various educational development themes are being disseminated through many popular program formats such as talk shows, chat shows, commentaries, magazine formats, drama and music. Now listeners give feedback and participate in the production of these programs through various channels and these have included phone calls, text messaging, email messages and personal visits. The interpretation and analysis as well as the conclusions of this study are based on the theories of development advanced by development communication scholars as treated in chapter two of this paper.



FM Radios