The media are important governance actors. By providing information and critical news coverage, they assume an intermediary role between the public administration and citizens – and thus make public participation in development processes a reality. It was this role and understanding as a critical-constructive mediator that was fostered through the second component of the ‘Radio at the heart of the community’ project.
But there are myriad ways of how journalists may fulfill this role. Thus, in a special training, the concept of ‘Radio Mobile’ was developed by radio journalists and a pilot was produced. Then, the participating radio stations and local government/council representatives were briefed and trained once more to allow for a smooth running of the programme.
The concept arranges for a live radio talk show in highly frequented public spaces such as public markets. Hosted by a radio moderator, the panel of talk show guests consisting of representatives from civil society, the local administration/municipal council and from among the resident citizens discussed diverse topics of special relevance to the particular municipality. The interactive format allowed the audience to contribute their views while listeners of the programme were encouraged to call in. In addition, citizens were invited to raise other concerns existing in the municipality and discuss them with the panel.
This interactive, on-the-spot format was new to the radio journalists as they had to engage with local politicians on the one hand and citizens on the other hand at the same time. Despite technical challenges and an initially reserved audience, ‘Radio Mobile’ contributed to public dialogue on pressing issues in the participating communities and to finding solutions to some of the problems discussed.
Listen to a “Radio Mobile” show from Sokodé: