Spotlight on ORS FM, Tanzania: Tuning in to the audience

| December 12, 2016

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On a warm July day, broadcasters Salome Thomas and Mathew Paul pile into a large sports vehicle with Farm Radio International staff. The car bumps along dusty dirt roads for a couple of hours, as they make their way north of Arusha to Longido district. The two broadcasters from Orkonerei Radio Service are traveling to hear from their listeners.

When the car stops in the village of Ketumbeine, the broadcasters spill out of the car and set off, looking for familiar faces—or just anyone interested in talking to them.

Mr. Paul sits down with three Maasai herders—Samuel Alais, Namanik Ysadida, and Supet Nkisiongo. He asks if they listen to the Uhakika wa chakula (Food security) program on Orkonerei Radio Service. Then he asks how they use the information they hear.


Mathew Paul (left) talks with men in Londolwo Esirwa.

Mr. Paul and Ms. Thomas are broadcasting important information for these Maasai herders, who often travel more than 30 kilometres a day with their herds of goats and cows. ORS FM shares weather information, so that the pastoralists and farmers who tune in know just which areas are expecting rain. When they hear this, they can decide which direction to herd their animals. Women listeners know in which direction to travel to find streams flowing with drinking water.

ORS FM shares weather information with Maasai pastoralists in Manyara, Arusha, and Kilimanjaro regions. The station also reaches parts of Morogoro and Tanga regions, as well as Dar es Salaam.

The station broadcasts from Terrat, found in Manyara Region, a couple of hours south of Arusha. The wide area covered by ORS FM makes it a challenge for broadcasters to visit listeners and record their feedback, says Mr. Thomas.

But the station provides valuable information to its listeners. Mr. Paul says this is what makes ORS FM popular. Ms. Thomas adds that their programs are popular because they are broadcast in both Maasai and Swahili, whereas almost all other radio programs in Tanzania are broadcast only in Swahili.

Ms. Thomas joined the radio station in 2012, moving from nearby Orkesmet to Terrat to live closer to the station. She prepares and presents a variety of programs, including a community health program, Mchakamchaka program, and the Uhakika wa chakula (Food security) program.

She loves her job. “Being able to expose the most burning issues within the community and [having] the chance to meet and talk to famous people in Tanzania is among the things that make me enjoy my job.”

For Mr. Thomas, it is the teamwork that is most enjoyable. He says, “I do enjoy working as a team and the great cooperation from other staff at the radio station.”

He began working at the station in 2013, making a bigger move from the city of Arusha to the village of Terrat. He also prepares and presents a variety of programs, including the sports program.