Kampala city has the biggest number of radio stations in Uganda but most of them don’t have good programming. Almost all radio programmes are similar. If its football time for instance, all of them will be broadcasting football. If its Sunday morning most of them turn to worship songs and boring preachers etc. The innovativeness on radio leaves a lot to be desired. If someone is looking for a great educative radio programme in English on a Saturday night for instance, there would be none that has the punch. First of all, most of the programmes are in local language of Luganda while others are busy with football. None has an appeal that is unique and educative. Some of them play music of all kinds with too many advertisements in between. For someone who would love to listen in to an educative programme on a Saturday evening, there is absolutely none in Kampala. There are a few ones that broadcast religious programmes and none is in English. In fact apart from BBC radio, there is no radio programming that is dedicated for the elite class in Uganda.
Radio is supposed to be educative, entertaining and also informative. To the educated, radio is supposed to give that educative programming that one can’t find on TV nor read in books. Although Radio broadcasting is one of the oldest media, it remains appealing to certain people who find it easier to listen to during their free time. Even in office, one should be able to listen to a good radio programme as they are working. If the whole of Kampala city does not have radio programming that specifically targets the educated masses, it means that the other towns in Uganda have even worse programming. Radio is not all about music. Sometimes people would want to listen to something either uplifting or educative. This takes research and knowledge on the part of presenters. My advice to radio owners and managers in Uganda is that they need to invest their workers such that they can acquire the necessary knowledge and skills which they can then pass on to their listeners. As a radio owner, you will be guaranteed increased listenership and more advertisement if your programming is in sync with what the masses desire.
If radio in the country does not reinvest itself, it will soon remain without any listeners. The introduction of private FM radio stations in Uganda in early 1990s was a revolution in itself. So many radio stations were opened up after the liberalization of the airwaves. At that time, it was understandable that the programming was not up to standard given the level of technology and the skills of Ugandans too. Thirsty years after this, the quality of programming has not only deteriorated, it’s on the verge of total collapse. The listenership of has not only gone down due to the advent of social media, the momentum of the creativity of radio workers is in serious question.
A radio that needs to survive the current shift will have to target the corporate world after all these are the people with money. People need unique information at certain times. A person who may not need to watch TV should be catered for when they go to their bed whereby the radio should be able to broad cast quality programmes that are educative leave alone entertaining. Radio in Uganda must adopt to new ways in this fast changing environment. Radio programming is not about filling time. It’s about ensuring that listeners get the best quality programmes that will transform their lives. Whereas there are very many programmes broadcast in Luganda, they are is simply non that broadcasts in English especially on weekends. I would recommend that radio adopts a podcast kind of programme where educative information is put on the listeners’ menu.
I came to understand the poor programming of radio through a personal experience of lack of electricity at my home. I got a power problem at my house. I could not watch television and neither could I read a book, I was using solar. My phone had also run out of battery this I could not busy myself on anything. The only alternative available to me was my small rechargeable radio.
I therefore tuned into radio using my small portable radio set. I expected to get a radio station that could offer me what I was looking for. I was grossly disappointed. All radios were broadcasting similar programs concurrently and none was in English. I moved on all frequencies with hope that I would land on one where I would learn something during that time but I found none. I coiled in my bed back to my random thoughts.