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Presentation Detail: “Kenyan Community Radio Content: Whose voice?”

Presentation by Rose Kimani, PhD Student, Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS), University of Bayreuth, Germany:

Community media initiatives are viewed as a site of participatory communication for communities, an arena to allow diverse voices and opinions.

In the Kenyan context, various institutional and individual actors participate in the community radio sector, and they each impinge on the eventual output of community radio stations.

On one hand, institutional actors such as the government and funding organisations have specific ideas and regulations on what community radio content should be, and have the legal and financial clout to dictate terms. On the other hand, the perspectives of individual radio producers have a major influence in content production: producers have certain aims, preferences and mindsets that lead them to produce specific content for community radio. On what seems to be ‘the other side of the equation’, are the community members who are the community radios’ target audience. They have certain expectations of community radio content, contribute to it and critique it in various ways.

Moreso, with the growth of digital media, the ways in which the community interacts with these radio stations and with each other continues to evolve in innovative ways. All these actors participate in community radio ostensibly to achieve one overarching aim, but they do not always have matching expectations.

Based on field data gathered via interviews with radio station staff and community members at these stations, interviews with donors and government officials, and observations during field visits in 2014 and 2015, this presentation outlines how the various actors exert their ideas and perspectives to influence the content produced in community radio, and its implications for the eventual plurality of voices in Kenyan community radio.