The impact of the rural audience on radio program formats : a Third World experience
Gwamna, Bitrus Paul
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The role of the mass media in the Third World has often been perceived as that of providing the education that rural peasants need to understand and adopt modern life-styles capable of uplifting their social and economic status. Much emphasis has been placed on radio's role in this regard, being a medium that is most widely used in the Third World. Rather than examine the impact of radio on rural audiences, we set out to investigate the nature of the impact rural audiences in the Third World have on the medium. Of particular interest to us is their impact on program formats. We reviewed five case studies. Each reflected a strategy adopted in collaboration with either a government or a social institution interested in the welfare of rural Third World peoples. Each sought to effect a switch from more traditional ways of doing things to newer methods. We concluded that since radio can have a meaningful impact on rural audiences, rural broadcasters must take into account peasant attitudes to both program content and production styles if radio is to fulfill the need by Third World governments to eradicate poverty, disease, and illiteracy in rural areas. Our conclusion stemmed from our belief that radio audiences are never passive. The mass media serve to fulfill certain audience needs and, by understanding the uses to which the radio has been put, broadcasters will be better able to fashion their messages to meet these needs.