The compact success story of community radio in Kenya
Community radio is evidently becoming popular inKenyaand Pamoja FM proves how much can be done with so little.
Pamoja FM is a community radio station located within the Kibera slum, the largest inNairobi and it operates from a small office located at the top of a tall building that entirely overlooks Kibera.
The station was formed by Adam Hussein in 2007 during the election violence, acting as a calming influence on the citizens of Kibera. Pajoma remained true to their name, which means ‘Unity’ in Swahili.
The setup aims to empower the youth through means of education and information and now transmits over an area of 35-40km aroundNairobi.
Through the station citizens are able to have a voice, particularly the people who feel unimportant and those who want to keep members of the community informed on issues that could have a dramatic impact upon their daily lives.
Today the station aims to concentrate on issues that affect its millions of listeners in the Kibera slums, issues such as, environment, women’s right, drugs and community awareness.
It is evident that the station has formed strong bonds with their community as members are increasingly becoming actively involved in contributing to the content broadcasted daily.
Programmes including talk shows, phone-ins, wedding and funeral announcements are aired on the station alongside hours of reggae and hip-hop.
The choice of music has been tailored to appeal to the youth, who make up a large proportion of the one million residents living in the slum.
Many of the younger generation took to the streets after the much disputed Kenyan election.
The staff at Pamoja FM believe radio is the most widespread communication device in the country and is a unique means of reaching their target audience.
The community radio station has been able to interact with its poverty stricken audience of millions, which enables them to express their culture and embrace entertainment, news and on-goinginformation.
At the radio station, the staff all are volunteers who share a passion for their communities needs and involvement in journalism.
The station holds a central place within the Kibera community and all of the reporting, presenting and news are focused on the people of Kibera as a target audience.
Pamoja FM defines their society into four separate categories, which are; children, women, teenagers and local community, all of who have an equal say in the stations content.
The station is continually aiming to moderate existing and form new programmes on the basis of requests from the community.
There are currently seven presenters and four reporters working at the station and the reporters collect local content from the slum, which is then edited and delivered on-air.
National and international content is mainly obtained from other media sources such as newspapers and television.
The introduction of social media has been a slow but working progress for the station with the next step for Pamoja being the leap into the world of Twitter.
For four months now staff have created and updated a regular Facebook page not only to attract more volunteers but to enable their listeners to engage with the radio station, making them feel as though they have a voice in their community.
Pamoja FM have been delayed in joining any social media sites on the basis that they felt that they did not have the sufficient equipment such as a camera to keep the page up to date with regular feeds and photo posts.
Pajoma offers internship opportunities to college students and creates opportunities for the less fortunate in society wanting to enter the journalism field but who may not have the support needed to do so.
Despite a relatively good setup in the studios, the majority of preparation, editing and filming is done with pen and paper.
Feature programmes, interviews and small news clips are all pre-recorded whereas; a vast amount of content is broadcasted live.
Pamoja FM has received its primary funding from the US Agency for International Development.
Radio is usually the only source to obtaininformation for people living in less comfortable positions as they have limited access to TV or newspapers due to illiteracy and poverty.
Community radio has grown to become the source ofinformation for many residents and now that peace has returned to Kibera, the station has opted to return back to regular programming like airing music shows and listing regular sport scores.
By Natasha Patel
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