RADIO journalists, not only presenters, but technicians, scriptwriters, programme directors, etc, need to: 

  1. think creatively and generate original ideas; 
  1. use their voice effectively on radio for “Zim-centric” edification;
  • learn to communicate knowledgeably and engagingly with listeners (without trite clichés) 
  • have sufficient knowledge of their subjects relevant for the radio genre; 
  • communicate more skilfully to be able to draw interesting information their interviewees; 
  • have better presentation and performance skills, without conceit and/or condescension; 
  • be able to read from scripts knowledge have the ability to adapt programme content for different times and audiences; and communicate skilfully, complemented by diplomacy and empathy.

Training in broadcast journalism in Zimbabwe was provided by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), various polytechnics, such as Harare Polytechnic where media consultant Dr Tafataona Mahoso taught for many years; and other institutes. Unlike yesteryear, journalism standards today are generally of a very poor calibre, lacking in content, context, imagination, moral, variety, hunhu/ubuntuism and general ethical standards. 

One of the main challenges for developmental content on Zimbabwean radio is, of course, the need to produce programmes on a tight budget, which means that potentially interesting high-impact programmes would require retaining committed teams of writers, presenters, technicians, editors, etc.  

Research conducted in nine Sub-Saharan countries regarding listeners programme preference indicated that on average roughly 57 percent of the people listened to the radio daily for news; 58 percent for music, 29 percent for sports, 20 percent for religion, 18 percent for call-in programmes, 13 percent for “information” and 9 percent for “talk” programmes (according to Balancing Act, 2008).

It is interesting to note, that sport and religion, the two most prominently featured programmes on our radio waves, have a low ranking in terms of listener preference. ZBC please note!

Has a listener demographic survey been carried out in Zimbabwe?

The wider liberalisation of African economies during the 1990s has resulted in the opening up of the broadcasting sector, which has seen an explosion in the numbers of small radio stations all over the continent, especially since 2000.  In 1985, there were only 10 independent radio stations in the whole of Africa; today, they number over 500 radio stations, in the West African region alone. South Africa operates over 750 transmitters on FM only, from 300 sites around the country. 

The African Charter on Broadcasting declaration was drawn up and adopted in Windhoek, Namibia, by media practitioners from all over Africa in 2001.Generally in Africa local commercial radios grew by an average of 360 percent between 2000 and 2006, with a corresponding number of listenership. For instance, in the Great Lakes area of East Africa, a radio magazine programme called ‘Sisi Wa Toto’ (Little Sister) attracts a estimated 30 million regular Swahili listeners and “Tembea na Majira”, a Kenyan educational radio soap opera, attracts 5 million regular listeners.

Local radio stations work on the principle of “by the community and for the community”; provide an outlet for community messages and activities such as local sports, special and community events, local business advertising, etc, which are important for local communities, especially for education. 

Research shows that FM/community radios are making an impact on the civic education of greater society and strengthening the development of the community. Furthermore, they provide enormous possibilities for wider education.  Both the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) affirm that radio is an effective medium used in education and for disseminating information education, especially if it can be followed up with group discussions and written materials such as posters.

Radio Zimbabwe’s Development Through Radio, aimed at rural women, was highlighted in “Public Broadcasting in Africa”, a 2009 report by the Open Society Initiative, particularly the work of veteran Zimbabwean woman broadcaster, Mavis Moyo, under the leadership of FAMWZ as “the best known broadcasting initiative”. Her radio drama, ‘Changes’, won third prize in a competition organised by the Union of Radio and Television Organisations in Africa (URTNA).

It was hoped that opinion leaders would emerge from the radio listening clubs who would then relay this development information to others in their communities.

In support of educational radio initiatives in South Africa, the South African Institute for Distance Education stated:  “radio remains the key media to which most rural people have access . . .  effective in providing topical programmes and reaching large numbers of learners rapidly”.

In Namibia the Ministry of Education uses radio to support ODL Learners in that country since mid-2000.

The Broadcasting Services Act of 2001 in Zimbabwe is a Government instrument for the development of community broadcasting in Zimbabwe.  Their relatively low installation costs and limited overheads bring community radio well within the financial range of many listeners; in fact, with the advent of the internet, both are beginning to overshadow newspapers in many regions of Africa.

Zimbabwe has to date more than 14 community radio stations, among them  Nyangani Community Radio Trust t/a Nyangani FM, Radio Bukalanga, Matobo Community Radio, Lyeja Nyayi Development Trust, ChimanimaniCommunity Radio Trust, Ndau Community Radio Trust, Vemuganga Comunity Radio Trust, Ntepe Manama CRT, Bayethe FM and Twasumbuka FM

In 2011 the Government of Zimbabwe began the process of liberalising the airwaves. Thus, the beginning of 2015 saw the licensing of eight new commercial radio stations by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), with a further 12 stations in the pipeline. 

Michelina Andreucci is a Zimbabwean-Italian researcher. She is a published author in her field. Feedback: 


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