Local radio still reaches the most

By March 26, 2009

Africa (MNN) — Thousands throughout Kenya gathered to hear the results of the 2008 U.S. presidential elections. To discover whether or not Barack Obama would be the new U.S. leader, most of them huddled around radios.

In a recent study conducted by the International Center for Media Studies (ICMS), a branch of the Far East Broadcasting Company, radio was found to be the most effective media source in East Africa. Research was collected from Kenya, Uganda, Congo and Sudan.

Executive director of ICMS, Dr. Robert Fortner, explains their findings. "The thing which emerged most clearly was the very high degree of dependence  people have on the medium of radio, and the very high degree of press that they place on the information they receive from the radio compared to other media."

It was discovered that radio, specifically local radio, is the most-trusted source of information for people in East Africa. Fortner says that radio is the primary source for updates during warfare, for international news, for health information including education on HIV/AIDS, and for instructions on how to lead a happy life. Muslims surveyed confessed that they trusted radio more than their own religious leaders.

"Both the Muslim part of that world and the Christian part of that world [has] relatively untrained clergy. So people don't necessarily trust what they're hearing from the clergy because they don't see the clergy as being any better informed, any more highly educated, or any more connected to the world than they themselves are."

The dependence on radio above any other form of media (even respected authorities) provides Christian organizations such as FEBC wide open doors for outreach. With the knowledge that local radio stations are the most trusted sources of all kinds of information, Christian ministries will hopefully be motivated to use radio as a tool for reaching people with the Gospel.

ICMS is hosting a symposium in April to teach other Christian organizations, radio stations and churches more about their findings through media studies. To learn more about the symposium and the research found, click here.

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