Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

ISSN: 2165-7912

Open Access

Using Community Radios as a Tool for Development


Ngugi PK

The purpose of this study is to determine to what extent the growth of community radios have changed the lives of ordinary people in Kenya and globally; in particular the illiterate, the urban and rural poor as well as other marginalized groups. The Kenyan Demographic and Health Survey of 2003 estimated that 60% of men and 71% of women in Kenya have only gone up to the primary school level of education (Government of Kenya, 2003). Robb asserted in his study that, “I choose to focus on radio because as a technology, it is perhaps the most suitable for community media. Unlike television, it does not require extensive broadcast facilities. Nor does it necessitate the cadre of equipment or the level of capital investment that television requires. Unlike print media, community radio does not require literacy for consumption. Lastly, 99% of American homes have at least one radio, a greater percentage than read daily newspapers (55%) have personal computers (51%) or subscribe to cable television (68%) (Media Management Center, 2007). Radio remains an accessible and inexpensive form of community media”. The historical philosophy of community radios is to use this medium as the voice of the voiceless and the mouthpiece of the oppressed people, or by communities that have not been served by conventional communication structures. It should promote development at the grassroots and bring about positive change in a community's living conditions and environment through dissemination of information and promotion of community dialogue through radio debates and dialogue via phone call ins, SMS and even through social media. The thesis of this paper is that community radios are playing significant roles in livelihood improvement especially for people with no other access to mainstream media.


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