Youth radio programming: A broadcaster how-to guide

Youth radio programming: A broadcaster how-to guide

Start a dialogue!

Based on recent research from many parts of the world, the content of more than 70% of radio broadcasting caters to adults. In Africa, the percentage is higher. In a recent study in Nigeria, for example, researchers found that content for youth (defined by the United Nations as 15-24 years old) accounted for a mere 1.4% of airtime. As the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization encourages, radio stations need more youth-focused programs.

Young people represent a huge source of potential listeners. In Africa, around 60% of the population is under 25, and 41% are under 15. Experience in radio reporting and broadcasting creates a useable set of skills with a wide range of real-life applications. Learning to research, interview, and broadcast boosts young people’s confidence and builds their communication and critical thinking skills. It also helps address current issues affecting youth, including education, life skills, drug abuse and criminal behaviour, sexual and reproductive health, and gender-based violence.

Many radio stations shun youth programming because youth is not a lucrative market as advertisers or consumers of goods and services. This is despite the fact that radio presents a real opportunity to engage youth in discussion and positive change for themselves and their communities.

There are two main approaches to youth programming. The first consists of adult broadcasters producing and broadcasting programs with content designed for youth. The second and less common but perhaps most effective approach is when radio stations enable youth to produce and broadcast programs themselves. To achieve this, radio stations can work with youth, coach them and build their skills, and gradually progress to youth producing programs almost independently. Here’s an important note that applies to both approaches: youth programming is only successful when youth themselves consider the programming to be good.

This Broadcaster how-to guide from Farm Radio International discusses the benefits of youth programming, and describes how radio stations can air programming that benefits youth, their radio stations, and their communities, and how youth can contribute to that programming.


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