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World Radio Day Reflections - affordable ICTs solutions make radio more relevant

Practical low cost ICT interventions for Radio

The just concluded Word Radio Day saw KenTel undertake a series of trainings on practical interventions for radio mainly looking at selected Free Open Source Software’s and Social Media. Here is a recap of the presentations; since many of the community radios or community centres/telecentres do not enjoy the benefits of broadband internet connectivity we narrowed down to options that would need limited or no access to internet to implement. KenTel is happy to note that its capacity to train and moderate sessions on Social Media was developed by The Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA), through the various new media trainings that CTA has been undertaking in various countries across the ACP countries. We also wish to acknowledge the training from UNITAR.

Twitter on Feature Phones (SMS)

Five years down the line, twitter has become one of the worlds most used social media platform with over half a billion subscribers globally. Even though most of these users are not from rural parts of the world, Twitter has a service for rural folks who have limited or connectivity and runs on simple feature phones and receive tweets as  short text messages. Each country has a special short code which they can use to configure any phone to receive tweet on feature phones.

In the context of community radios, the manager and staff would compile a list phone contacts of listeners from community, conduct training over radio on how to subscribe to the radios twitter handle, do the same through small groups of farmers, health workers, youths and other professionals in the community. They would then use this channel to mobilize listeners, remind of upcoming broadcast/program, as a feedback mechanism for listeners, conduct surveys and even market the radio station.

The greatest advantage of this service is the low cost, each tweet at 0.0125 USD (Kshs1)will be broadcasted to all community members subscribed to the service for free via twitter website, if any member sends a question or gives feedback, he/she is charged the same amount but the tweet broadcasted to all for free.

Face Book Fan pages and Groups

Provides a great tool for marketing and sharing the radio’s updates to listeners especially the youths who are tech savvy, own smart phones and use such social media platforms. They may share photos of the station; the presenters get to connect with certain groups of users and get feedback, they can gauge their popularity and get to learn of trending topics which can then inform their programming. The station can also launch a course which listeners can help shape and contribute ideas and donate towards. This particular medium may be more appealing towards a certain age group such as youth more than kids or the elderly.

Sound Cloud and Skype

These two provide a functionality to have radio extend its reach, the radio can use sound cloud to record and share podcasts of plays, braking news and outline programs among other ways they can imagine. On the other hand they can use Skype to conduct remote interviews as well as staff meetings and collaborations.


Since this is a full time job for many organizations, poorly resourced community radios may sort to using staff who would be required to post updates from time to time on social media platforms used by the station. This can be tiresome and if not well managed, there can be duplications and sharing inappropriate content which misrepresent the stations or organizations. It’s therefore necessary to deploy a management tool but also have one or two key staff scrutinize and validate all content before it’s shared across.

Hoot Suite

Hoot Suite is a social media management system for businesses and organizations to collaboratively execute campaigns across multiple social networks from one secure, web-based dashboard.

Key social network integrations include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and new Google+ Pages, plus a suite of social content apps for YouTube, Flickr and many more. It can be used to;

· Manage & update multiple networks  from one place

· Accessible on the web from anywhere

· Team collaboration and task delegations

· Monitor mentions and reply in real-time

· Track key phrases and discover opportunities

· Schedule tweets and status updates

· Track your analytics


Social Media can be used to solicit for relevant content to be developed into programs and aired on community radios. Community radios should provide social service and therefore their activities should be tailored to suit the interest of that community. That means the content should be sourced from the community itself or at least the topic question should be vetted by the community first. The application of social media in content creation involves a six steps process;

(i) The radio identifies a topic of public concern.

(ii) The radio broadcasts the topic questions online.

(iii) The crowd (listeners) submits their interpretation and contributions.

(iv) The crowd vets the contents provided.

(v) The radio analyses the content and identifies key themes that emerge.

(vi) The radio develops content for the topic of public concern and airs it on radio.

In terms of managing for development results (MFDR) as a monitoring process, social media can provide a key platform in obtaining up-to-date data and current, very concrete and mostly honest data that can be used for qualitative monitoring. The application of social media to research will require the ability to scan the web for relevant information, filter the information to refined mentions through targeted monitoring and noise reduction. The data from refined mentions can then be analyzed to give themes that can even be ranked for quantitative monitoring or the qualitative aspect of the data is analyzed through mapping of sub topics. A report will therefore be drafted to inform the project or program implementation.

The use of social media as a community radio tool requires both internal and external policies. The internal policy will give the station a clear voice and will also demand a certain level of good practice in the private pages of people affiliated to the station like managers, presenters and technical staff. Most listeners would follow media personalities; this means that the personality’s action has an impact on the radio’s overall image and reputation. An external social media policy needs to be in harmony with the internal policies and outlines the function of that page, what is expected of the fun base and what must not be written on the page like advertising, abuse directed towards others and discriminatory language.


FOSS is open source code software’s that give the same operability as commercial softwares, but is freely available for download from the Internet.

- Frontline SMS Radio

- Freedom Fone among others

For community radios and telecentres we narrowed down to a text and audio based applications discussed below.

Frontline SMS

FrontlineSMS makes it easy to create and manage common SMS activities like making announcements, conducting polls and automatically replying to incoming SMS. Our polls activity visualizes incoming data, allowing you to quickly understand the results. You can manage messages more easily with a flexible filing system, featuring folders and an archive capability; as well as an inbox, outbox, and the ability to monitor pending messages. Important messages can be starred for later, and a more robust search allows you to locate messages based on name, location, or date as well as by activity, group and folder. You can export your messages limited by date range, or from any search result, collection of messages or group of contacts.

Frontline SMS Radio

FrontlineSMS:Radio is developing software which will assist community radio stations to interact dynamically with audiences by harnessing the power of SMS text messaging. Radio represents the dominant media source for many and SMS is increasingly being used by radio stations to facilitate two-way communication with listeners.

FrontlineSMS:Radio will be built on the core technology of FrontlineSMS, a freely downloadable, open source software which assists with the management of SMS using a laptop and mobile phone or GSM modem. FrontlineSMS enables users to send and receive text messages with large groups of people without requiring Internet access.

Freedom Fone

Freedom Fone is free software that creates interactive, voice-based communication services for organizations or bodies seeking to engage with communities across mobile networks. 

Freedom Fone uses voice menus to share information with any target audience, SMS polls to organize opinion surveys and callers can also leave voice and text messages on the service where call data records can be safely stored, organized and evaluated.  


· Use of voice for those who may not prefer to used SMS.

· Selection of voice prompts allows dynamic content to be shared.

· Content is detailed as opposed to SMS which is restricted to 160 characters.

· Feedback mechanism via Leave A Message feature  (LAM)

· Radios are able to record some favorite programs for listeners to access later especially for the fans who miss such programs due to various reasons.

· t has an option for language and content selection.

· Can be used to give instructions on basic steps, e.g. ID registration process

World Radio Day celebrates the radio medium to improve international cooperation among broadcasters and encourage decision makers to create and provide access to information. Radio has embraced the digital revolution to expand its power and reach.  It is still the prominent medium that can carry any message to any place at any time even without electricity, providing a lifeline of information that can save lives.

The event was celebrated is celebrated every 13th of February globally ; in Kenya, the event was held at the site of the country’s oldest community radio station, Radio Mangelete in Mtito Andei and also saw a visit to radio Mwanedu in Voi. It was a joint initiative between UN Agencies and Programmes (UNESCO, UNDP, UN Radio), SIDA, National Media stakeholders, media practitioners and community members from across Kenya. The 2-day event highlighted the role of community radio as a platform for communication among members of local communities in addressing current and anticipated issues that affect the very fabric of society.

The event was composed of a series of sessions on new media and ICT, sustainability of community radio operations, and the production of civic education radio programming. It also covered the issues of responsive election reporting and the importance of inter-tribal dialogue in promoting peace and democracy. A highlight of the celebrations wasthe launch of “Media Coverage of the Mombasa Republican Council Monitoring Report” and “The Voice for Peace and Democracy Campaign“ in preparation for the coming Kenyan election, leading up to the International Day of Democracy on 15 September.

You can download the presentations from here:

Social Media - By Amos Ochieng

Social Media Application for radio - By Christina Benard

FOSS - By Sharon Telewa and Cleopa.

Contributers: Amos Ochieng, Christian Benard, Sharon Telewa and Cleopa Otieno.

Added by View user profileCleopa Timon Otieno on February 22, 2013