Good governance thrives on a marketplace of ideas. Radio as an arm of the electronic media is the most ubiquitous, popular and highly sought after means of mass communication. Its reach to the nooks and corners of developing nations is legendary. As part of the emerging cities in the millennium, the radio waves have continued to witness more expansion. In Osun, the trend is there, the implications are obvious. The implications are the focus of this piece.
How it all began
The first radio signal was first sent and received in Osun on 25th November, 1991. This followed the attempts to create a media house for the new state carved out from the old Oyo State. Since then, the government owned station has continued to play a leading role in the Osun media landscape. This is in spite of the location of Gold FM, a Radio Nigeria FM Station in Ilesa by the Olusegun Obasanjo led Federal Government. Some form of competition came on board when Uniq 103.1 FM, a privately owned radio station located in Ilesa, also surfaced on the Osun media landscape in 2010. The competition from Ilesa was buoyed up from the central zone with Raypower FM and Rave FM coming in succession to swell the number of radio stations in the State of the Virtue. After them have come Crown FM, Ife; Timsed FM, Ijebu Ijesa, Oodua FM, Ile Ife and Great FM located on the campus of the Obafemi Awolowo University, also in Ile Ife.
What are the implications of the expanded radio space in Osun?
The radio boom in Osun has its own consequences depending on where one is looking at it. The prospect is looking brighter for the average Osun indigenes and residents and advertisers hoping to derive some benefits from this development. However, radio station owners and managers, the space is getting wider and the audience base is becoming more competitive. For the radio audience in Osun, there is a variety of stations and programmes. The choice is theirs to make. Listeners have more stations to attend to their radio needs and listening pleasure. They are the greatest beneficiaries of this multiplication of radio stations. They have gradually exited an era when they only had access to information from government owned radio station to a number of stations driven by different motives. Their chances of getting their voices heard have also widened. In Osun today, the average listener is the beautiful bride whose taste bud is now to be romanced with quality programmes. Not only that, the access to multiple voices and ideas on issues now pervades the airwaves in the state. So, no matter how it is considered, the listener is the winner in Osun.
Advertisers too now have wider opportunities to market their products and services to the people. From Osogbo to Ijebu Ijesa, the coast is clearer for the advertisers to spread their messages. There is a break in the long monopoly of the airwaves enjoyed by the government owned OSBC before now. Jingles in English and Yoruba could continue to roll out on the Osun airwaves.
For the government, the wider information landscape is a major threat. The voice has been taken out of the radio station previously considered as the government megaphone. The media handlers of the governor now has to monitor the expanded airwaves 24/7 to stay on top of information flow and respond to issues faster than their predecessors. The emerging radio boom now opens the government flanks to more criticism. Where the state owned station might be cautious in interrogating certain issues concerning the owners, their private counterparts would go all the way to open up government policies to scrutiny. While the average citizens are the greatest beneficiaries of the expanding media space, the government appears the most threatened.
Radio station owners and managers are equally under fire. The implication of more players on the airwaves is water tight competition. The narrow source of revenue becomes narrower. The stations compete in terms of audience base and advertising revenue. In broadcast business, the medium first builds a huge listenership which would be patronised by the advertisers. With more stations in competition for the same audience base, getting audience attention becomes water tight. The station with the domineering transmission power that has the reach stays on top. This must be complemented with quality programming and sound mix of great talents. Not only that, creative ways must be devised to make the audience loyal to the station. The mechanism of feedback must be strengthened. The trend of location of the new radio stations in the state is interesting. There seems to be a tug of war between the Osun Central Zone and the Osun East Senatorial District. The state capital, Osogbo is in contention with Ilesa, Ife and Ijebu Ijesa in hosting the radio stations.
The airwaves could only get bigger and better!