The Broadcasting Research Council of South Africa (BRC) has revealed interim radio listenership data for quarter one of 2021, which shows a strong level of interest among South African youth. Ninety-five per cent of 15- to 24-year-olds claimed they listen to the radio every week, and over 70 per cent said they listen every day.
When asked what they listen to radio for, the news was at the top of the list, followed by debates and conversations. “Radio keeps people informed about the news” and “Enjoying the talk shows” were two of the top reasons they provided for listening to the radio.
According to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), radio continues to appeal to this crucial sector despite competition from social media. It emphasises the importance of broadcasting in empowering the country’s youth through information sharing and educational programs.
With South Africa amid its third Covid-19 wave, radio’s ability to educate and inform people in times of crisis and everyday life has never been more critical. As a result, educators and learners have resorted to radio for tuition, making it a valuable option for young people who do not have or have restricted access to online learning.
Section27 noted in Learning During the Covid-19 Lockdown that the SABC was broadcasting educational content for learners from more than ten commercial radio stations across the country and community radio stations from all provinces. In the Eastern Cape, for example, more than 20 community radio stations broadcasted lessons for learners.
Radio offers young listeners a sense of involvement, especially in social alienation and severe lockdowns, providing an alternative to physical and online learning. Young listeners cited “it keeps me company” as a primary reason for listening to the radio. In addition, they’re 32 per cent more likely to use phones to listen to the radio, allowing them to listen from anywhere and at any time.
“Radio is assisting to bridge the digital divide in education, particularly for the most marginalised learners,” according to NAB executive director Nadia Bulbulia.