On-air quiz gets listeners calling in to Radio Argoutar

| February 3, 2019

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Radio Argoutar is a small station with a big impact. The station is located in Ioba province in southwestern Burkina Faso, about 300 kilometres from the capital, Ouagadougou. A dedicated team of eight volunteers led by director Hypolite Some focuses on agricultural content in a range of programs. Agriculture accounts for nearly half of the station’s programming.

Mr. Some says, “We are a community radio station, and we take the needs of our community to heart. We try to educate our listeners as best we can on farming topics.

Farming employs about 80% of Burkina Faso’s population and agriculture accounts for more than 30% of the country’s gross domestic product. Like other Sahelian countries, Burkina Faso is particularly vulnerable to climate change, and increasingly high temperatures and periods of drought can reduce farm yields.

Radio is the most popular medium in the country, and is therefore a key source of information for agricultural practices. Apart from regular farmer programming, Radio Argoutar incorporates agriculture into health programs, women’s programs, and even some sports programs. But Mr. Some wanted to develop a unique segment in the farmer program that would encourage more listeners to participate and learn something, while also having a bit of competitive fun.

The farmer program airs four mornings a week, from Monday to Thursday, and again in the evenings. It is hosted by David Martial in French and Dagari. Each week, the program covers a farming theme related to the season. Recently, the station has been discussing harvesting as well as plant health and pesticide use. After discussing the topic for three days, Mr. Martial poses a key question every Thursday, then invites listeners to call in and answer the question. This quiz is popular with listeners. Mr. Some says they receive more than 30 callers during an episode.

He says, “When they play the game, they’re personally invested because it’s an opportunity to improve their lives. We have three lines in the studio, and there are times when all the lines are backed up.”

Mr. Martial and the extension officer discuss the listeners’ responses and choose the caller with the best answer. The prize might be a T-shirt with the Radio Argoutar logo, a notebook, a keychain, or another small thing the station can finance.

Mr. Martial says, “It’s important for us to communicate with our listeners in their language. We want to understand their challenges and we use the radio program to find a solution together.”

Despite the excitement and competition of the game, Mr. Martial and Mr. Some say they struggle to get women to participate. The vast majority of callers are men, mainly due to their greater access to mobile phones and radio sets. The station decided to address this problem by going directly to the communities once a week, with recorders in hand, to meet with the women themselves.

Mr. Martial explains: “We have programs for women, especially on things like maternity, water, and health. We go to the community and ask them about their challenges. Then we return to the studio and edit a montage [of their voices].”

Like many community radio stations in sub-Saharan Africa, Radio Argoutar faces significant financial challenges. Lack of up-to-date and functioning equipment, combined with a limited volunteer staff make it difficult to improve their programming and sustain it long-term.

But in October 2018, Radio Argoutar became a Farm Radio International broadcasting partner, which gave the station access to FRI’s large collection of training and content resources. These resources can address some of the challenges of training broadcasters as well as help stations acquire accurate and reliable agricultural information to produce programs in a variety of formats. For its part, Farm Radio will seek to understand the unique challenges of broadcasters and farmers in this region to improve its existing resources and develop new ones.

Any radio broadcaster can access Farm Radio’s information and training resources at www.farmradio.fm.