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What is a healthy station? DRP
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What is a healthy station? DRP

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  • 1.    What  is  a  Healthy  Station?     By  its  nature,  community  radio  is  as  diverse  as   the  communities  it  serves.    At  the  same  time,   donors  look  for  some  measures  of  effectiveness.     These  organizational  benchmarks  are  useful   guides  to  evaluate  whether  it  is  a  Healthy   Station.       Naturally,  no  radio  template  fits  all   communities;  each  country  has  a  unique   history,  culture  and  legal  framework.      These  must  be  respected.    Radio  serving  a  Maasai  village  of  1,800  in  rural  Tanzania  will  be  very  different  than  one  serving  a  densely  populated  peri-­‐urban  township  such  as  Soweto  in  South  Africa.    Regardless  of  the  differences,  however,  effective,  healthy  local  radio  stations  have  these  benchmarks:     • A  clear  mission  that  informs  programming,  advertising  and  outreach   decisions.    Each  staff  member  and  volunteer  understands  this  mission  and   uses  it  as  a  guide  star.       • A  defined  audience  and  ongoing  engagement  with  that  audience   • A  clear  voice  (or  style  of  presentation)  that  is  confidently  and  distinctively   community  radio.    The  station  does  not  copy  or  duplicate  an  existing   service.   • A  community-­‐wide  reputation  of  being  independent  of  outside  influence   and  adhering  to  professional  journalism  standards  of  accuracy,  fairness   and  balance  in  information  programming.       • Local  content  and  music.   • Strong  and  fair  leadership  combined  with  the  ability  to  empower  the  staff   by  engaging  them  constructively.   • On-­‐going  evaluation  mechanisms  to  gauge  effectiveness  of  programming,   management  and  service  to  the  community.   • Open  relations  between  stakeholders,  including  board,  staff,  donors,   advertisers  and  listeners  who  encourage  creative  programming.   • Financial  independence.   • An  active  board  of  directors  that  is  engaged  with  the  station  and   representative  of  the  community.       • A  written  code  of  ethics  supported  and  used  by  staff  and  volunteers.    Now  stations  can  use  SMS  text  messaging  as  a  new  tool  for  community  engagement  by  soliciting  topics  for  programs  and  polling  listeners  to  evaluate  the  programming.         1  
  • 2. One  other  quality  I  found  that  effective  stations  had  in  common  was  a  culture  of  candor,  of  constructive  self-­‐criticism.    One  station  had  adopted  the  Japanese  idea  of  kaizen,  continuous  improvement.    Rather  than  hide  problems,  they  bring  them  into  the  light  so  they  can  be  fixed.    Criticism  is  not  personal;  rather  it  is  in  the  interest  of  striving  for  excellence  for  the  station  as  whole.        One  last  point:  All  too  often  donors,  NGOs  and  governments  focus  on  using  media  to  bring  information  to  people  and  under  value  the  importance  of  dialogue  or  horizontal  communication.    Radio  is  unique  in  giving  voice  to  people  to  air  and  solve  their  problems,  to  hold  public  officials  accountable,  discuss  taboo  subjects  and  change  harmful  behavior.          While  stopping  horrific  violence  with  peacemaking  remains  a  challenge  in  too  many  African  countries,  we  can  also  take  a  new  broader  look  at  peace  building.    Marine  General  Anthony  Zinni  and  Admiral  Leighton  Smith,  testified  before  the  U.S.  Senate  Foreign  Affairs  Committee:     We  know  that  the  ‘enemies’  in  the  world  today  are  actually  conditions  -­‐  -­‐   poverty,  infectious  disease,  political  turmoil  and  corruption,  environmental   and  energy  challenges.    We  know  from  our  own  experience  and  research  that  effective  local  radio  programming  can  make  significant  progress  to  improve  each  one  of  these  conditions.    Few  other  social  investments  can  have  broader  reach  or  affect  more  lives  than  an  effective  local  radio  station.     -­‐Bill  Siemering     2  
  • 3.   3  

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