Academic journal article Global Media Journal

Communities' Participation in Kenya through Community Radio Broadcasting Stations in Kenya on Development: A Critical Review

Academic journal article Global Media Journal

Communities' Participation in Kenya through Community Radio Broadcasting Stations in Kenya on Development: A Critical Review

Article excerpt


Community radio responds to the needs of community it serves, contributing to its development within progressive perspectives in favor of social change and development. Community radio strives to democratize communication through community participation in different forms in accordance with each specific context (World Association of community Broadcasters (AMARC)).

Community radios are non-profit organization's founded and owned by the community they serve. They are funded through a trust, foundations or even associations.

Though it's a form of public service broadcast they serve the community rather than the whole depends on community resources.

A community is a group of individuals with community characteristics and interests. The commonality is based on the geographical location, economic resources and social life.

Community radio is not after making profit. Several distinct features of community radio include; it is not aimed at making profits, the focus is based on particular communities and their main intention is to provide messages that are of social use to the community involved.

Media as a Tool for Social Change

Media has enormous impact on any society. The only gap is whether the media .induced changes are good or bad for the community. It is also a question on how long it takes for media and products to cause change in the lifestyles of people [1]. Social change is effectively illustrated to a radio station owned by a community by providing a forum for platform participatory, public dialogue which is essential for social change. The radio station is essential platform for identifying community problems and analyzing problems and their solutions, thereby determining development inputs that meet local needs [2].

Open access to air their complaints, open call-ins to radio stations, open discussions can pressure local authorities to adopt good practices of governance and transparency.

Salient Features of Community Radio

UNESCO defines community radio as radio run by, for and about the community. This broad principal distinguishes between state owned or public service broadcasting, commercial broadcasting and community radio [3].

Community radio is a non-profit station. This does not mean it cannot engage in revenue generating activities which tends to be vital for survival and simply means that it's not a revenue generating station like commercial radio stations.

The programming is all about then community, of direct relevance to them. The community needs to be specific.

Community radio has the community ownership concept. This empowers the community to use this radio for the community benefits like poverty eradication, reducing gender disparities, health, hygiene and many more topical issues.

Functions of Community Radio

Community radio dates back to more than half a century, to the miners Radios of Bolivia, which were instrumental in pressing better working conditions for tin miners. Poverty and social injustices were the stimulus for this initiative. This was the first recorded case of radio broadcasting being used by the sector of society to improve its socio-economic status [2].

Since 1980s, UNESCO has been actively promoting community radio as an agent for change and development. Its activities in many countries have always been supported by DANIDA (Danish Agency for Development Assistance), (UNESCO Handbook on Community Radio).

The principal functions of community radio are:

To reflect and promote local identity and character and culture by focusing principally on local content. Culture is how people of a community talk about their past and future. It is what they care about. Like life culture is a variable and it evolves constantly. Community culture is also artistic expression through local music, dance, poetry, theatre and storytelling. Culture is also language. …

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