Audience listenership of FM radio: A case study of rural development in Northern Ghana

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2 Citations (Scopus)


The quest for effective strategies for rural development continues to be a challenge for policymakers in sub-Saharan Africa and their development partners. Communication development strategies executed using FM stations have emerged as a promising tool as a result of the medium being the most popular source of information among rural dwellers in the region. Thus, this research explores the efficacy of FM radio in rural development by examining the listening patterns of residents and the benefits of such listenership to the lives of inhabitants of the Tamale metropolitan area. This is achieved via a quantitative analysis of surveys of about 400 residents of the Tamale metropolis. The study rejects the perception that FM radio programs in Ghana are mostly entertainment driven and are purveyors of light news. By putting searchlight on the motivations of radio listeners, the study finds that FM radio is the most reliable and trusted source of development information because of the ease, convenience and low cost of listening for listeners, and because programming is mostly in local languages. The study establishes that FM radio is the main source of information on agriculture, education and health in rural communities thereby contributing to rural development. Listeners’ participations in radio phone-in programs were highly rated for fostering audience motivation and agency. However, some challenges emerged. Listenership of FM stations was disproportionately male; there were complaints that radio programs were too “urban”; programming lacked innovation; and the timing of programs was poor. Based on these findings, the study recommends that FM radio stations should employ media professionals to conduct effective audience analysis to gain a grounded understanding of audience radio use if they are to develop the right programming timing to reach a greater audience of rural residents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2184750
JournalCogent Arts and Humanities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • development communication
  • northern Ghana
  • radio listeners
  • rural development
  • uses and gratifications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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