Radio is such an important communication medium here in BF, more so than any other form of communication. Every regional capital and larger city has a radio station. Radios start at 3000 CFA ($6) and go up from there. Even in my small village of 2000 people, everyone has a radio (FM on their black and white Nokia cell phone or an actual appliance). Local radio stations reach illiterate villagers by reading the national newspapers in Local language. If I ever want to practice my Moore I can put on Voix de Paysan or Savane FM. Radio National de Burkina (RNB) broadcasts in 10 local languages and is frankly more interesting than their television counterpart (RTB). PCVs frequently work with radio stations to do health awareness sessions and to spread the word about local events.
Here in BF I have also discovered the joy of short wave radio. I adore listening to BBC World Service, Radio France Internation (RFI) and BBC Afrique (BBC Francophone Africa service). I’ve also received radio signals from Radio Australia, Voice of America (VOA,), Radio Romania international, Deutche Welle (Germany), and Chinese radio stations.
I would say that my short wave radio is the best purchase I made in country and I am addicted to the BBC World Service. I listen to it almost every day and they do news bulletins every half hour. When the coup d’état happened in Mali I was immediately able to tune into BBC and get updates. They also broadcast live Premier League games, the African Cup of Nations and the EURO 2012 championships (soccer). I didn’t have a TV to watch the Olympics but BBC broadcast highlights and live coverage for three hours every night which was great. I also love their “From Our Own Correspondent” which features vignettes from their reporters all over the world. I feel so much more connected and informed.
I also enjoy radio broadcasts more than TV news. I was speaking with a colleague and he was saying that TV newscasts are mostly filled with sound bites and there’s more of a visual focus on clips because TV is an audio and visual medium. He said that in radio they have to be more descriptive because they can’t rely on using video clips to convey a message. I bet it’s a lot more difficult being a radio correspondent than a television correspondent for the same reason.
In the US I listened to classic rock, top 40, variety, and oldies stations for music. I’m sure when I go back to the US that I am going to be listening to a lot more NPR or 540AM, Radio Canada (The French language station that broadcasts from Windsor, Ontario). I might just have to take my SW radio back to the US with me. I’ll need to get my BBC somehow 🙂