I am a big fan of FM radio. From my days at IESC Geekcorps, I saw how this “old” technology was still impressive in its reach, cost-effectiveness, and simplicity. Less you forget, radio is still the most ubiquitous ICT – beating TV, mobile phones, and Internet penetration by wide margins.
At the same time, much of the work around FM radio is done by a few hard core believers, with newer, flashy technology generating the buzz and getting most of the funding. So I was glad to read Farm Radio International’s latest newsletter about their African Farm Radio Research Initiative.
AFRRI came about when the Gates Foundation challenged Farm Radio International to prove that FM radio still has relevance in the age of mobile phones and Internet access. Yes, you and I may feel that radio still has relevance, but now its proven:
After two cycles of carefully planned and delivered, radio program campaigns involving 25 African radio stations in five countries, the AFRRI project amassed a huge amount of invaluable data. It demonstrates clearly that well-designed and produced radio campaigns using participatory methodologies can have a significant impact on the adoption of improved technologies by small-scale farmers on a large scale throughout the broadcast area of each radio station. The data also demonstrate that such uptake of technologies can be even greater when innovative use of other ICTs, such as mobile phones and the Internet, is combined with the radio broadcasts. We call the methodology we designed and tested a Participatory Radio Campaign (PRC).
Farm Radio International has published 3 reports as part of this study. The first report outlines their use of a newly developed methodology called the Participatory Radio Campaign. The second report presents their analysis of market information services (MIS) and its effectiveness on the radio. The last report presents their results from integrating newer ICTs with radio to create more effective farm radio programs.
I would suggest you read all three, with the last one a great guide for using FM radio in your future ICT4D projects.