Mobile phone interactivity with FM radio in Kenya: The case of FM radio stations in Nairobi
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This study looks at how the mobile telephony has impacted on the news content of the FM radio stations and the challenges it has posed to the role of gate-keeping in Kenya. The general objective of the study was to investigate the role of mobile phone interactivity with FM radio in Kenya. As its specific objectives, this project aimed at analyzing if FM radio feedback from audience via call-ins and SMS influences programming in Kenya; to determine the level of relationship between mobile phone use and audience participation in content development and; to establish the challenges posed to FM radios, in terms of gate-keeping, by interactivities such as call-ins and SMS. This study has adopted a descriptive survey design which is appropriate where the study seeks to describe the characteristics of certain groups, estimate the proportion of people who have certain characteristics and make predictions. The population for purposes of this study was FM radio stations incorporated and, or licensed to operate in Kenya. The study was carried out in Nairobi. Nairobi was selected as the study site since it houses majority of the FM radio stations in Kenya. A sample of 30 stations was randomly selected in Nairobi. A structured questionnaire was used to collect primary data. Responses in the questionnaires were tabulated, coded and processed by use of a computer Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) version 17.0 programme to analyze the data. Findings of the study revealed that FM radio feedback from audience via call-ins and SMS influences programming in Kenya, and that the relationship between mobile phone use and audience participation influences content development. It also found that this interactivity poses challenges to FM radios in terms of gate-keeping since it increases journalist-audience relationship through interaction. Mobile phone interactivity has an effect on the relationship between journalists and their audience since it gives audience some control on programming. Therefore, policies should be developed aimed at enhancing the FM radio and mobile phone interactivity and journalists should be trained on the new technologies on how to handle the interactivity.