The Role Of Radio In Democratic Society

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

The Role Of Radio In Democratic Society


After the nation has been envisaged and deliberately manipulated by the military government in recent time, it seem the mass media (Radio) has lost or shaker in the role expected of it in a democratic society.

In recent to this development, this research work is aimed at investigating, finding and re iterating what is expected of the mass media (radio) in a democratic society. Using Enugu North as a case study and concentration was narrowed down to Radio in order to achieve maximum and accurate research findings.

Chapter one reflects the introduction of the research work, statement of problem, historical question, significant of the study, hypothesis, definition of terms, and limitation of the study.

Chapter two, dwelt with the review of related life nature, while that of chapter three treated research design and methods of research.

Chapter five contains the recommendation and conclusion as the last chapter and it is based on research findings of the researcher as evidence that a comprehensive data collection and analysis has been done.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

This research work is carried out in a way that will investigate and find out in a clearly defined term the “Role of Radio is a Democratic Society” in order to bring to the consciousness of the media (Radio) what is expected from it by the society. Over the year, the nation or society has been envisaged by the “Dictatorialism” and “Authoritarianism” of the military government over all the media of communication. The traditional role of the media (Radio) is the transmission of programme intended for general public reception. As a result of the long silence in practicing its defined role under the military dictatorship, it appear that radio broadcasting not conscious of the fact that we are no longer under the shadow military restriction and dictatorship nascent democracy. And for this, democracy to survive it has to contribute its own quota through the roles expected from it. The members of the public also expect it from radio. Some basic functions or roles which it suppose to play in uplifting the plight in the society because the president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obansojo said that “Radio has a greater influence and impact on the society in terms of wider coverage and accessibility”. Though we have other media of communication such as the television, Newspaper, etc but amidst these, the roles and the impact of radio are most imperative and inexhaustible in our society to be précised. There have been previous researchers concerning the role or impact of radio in out of investigate, find, and recommend on what should be the traditional role of radio in a democratic society and how can this role be effectively carried out without any form of reluctantly and complain. The researchers concentrate on the inhabitants of Enugu North Local Government for an effective research work and positive result Basically, politics is about power, but the struggle for power results in conflicts and competitions. Thus, under the girdling political practice is the struggle for power which creates disagreement and conflict. Nevertheless, the effects of politics which are conflicts and disagreement are never permanent and must be managed for the improvement of the society to be achieved. From another dimension, politics is about policy. Extending this view, Nzimiro (1992:7) states that “policy is a matter of either the desire for change or the desire to protect something against change”. This also leads to conflict. The history of human civilization clearly shows that class conflict is an inherent characterization of human societies. This offers a clear conviction that the eminent nuclear physicist Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was bemoaning the endemic conflict arising from human interactions when he says, “I can calculate the motions of the heavenly bodies but not the madness of people”.

Newton’s timeless wits indicate that conflict as a perceived incompatibility of actions, goals or ideal (Myers, 1989:113), pervades virtually all aspects of human endeavours including political activities. In the modern society, politics is expressed through political parties, which are created to achieve the goals of a society. This is why political parties are organized around specific idea. Before independence in 1960, the colonial administration has organized a couple of general elections. In none of them was a deliberate and systematic political advertising programme under taken. All political activities were limited to rallies soap box, speeches and where possible press editorial efforts. For obvious reasons it was not possible for politicians to use electronic media for political advertising. Also the print media concentrated heavily on the issue of political independence. The leader of Action Group Party of Nigeria, Chief ObafemiAwolowo in 1963 used skywriting advertising during rallies to send campaign messages. That was a unique attempt in promoting politicians in Nigeria’s political history. It did not go far because it lacked systematic political advertising.In 1979, the media option had widened and more political parities resorted to political advertising. Political advertising is an important element of democratic society. In view of this, former United States of American President Richard M. Nixon, is reputed to have said that “political advertising is to politics what bumper stickers are to philosophy”. Equally commenting on the indispensability of political advertising in democracy or in the process of electioneering campaign Jamieson (1984), believes that it “legitimates our political institutions by affirming that change is possible within the political system.

However, we may recognize that political advertising is our 20th century version of the old whistle stop campaign tour from a train, the torch light rally, the stump speech and the town hall debate, all of which started during the early years of American democracy and are still very much in vogue in some respects in Nigeria election campaigns today. Politics according to Gerbner (1981:15) is … a word game”. Gerber contends that politicians rise to power because that can talk persuasively to voters and political elites”. Okigbo (1992:123) added impetus to this view when he describes politics as largely a verbal profession”. The glaring lessons are learnt from the above scenario. One, no political activity ever takes place in the absence of conflict of wills or clash of interests among the participants. Again, no human relations or interactions’ as Nwosu (1990: 323) observes can take place without one form of communication or the other. Therefore, it would not be out of place to admit that the influence of political advertising on the voting behaviour of the electorates is at the root of any political process. And given that the mass media (radio) are veritable tools for reaching widely spatial heterogeneous audience with the same communication message. It is unquestionable that they would serve well as pivotal institution upon which the pendulum of our political/electioneering campaign should swing. However, the real and or imagined power of the mass media of which radio is one of them to mould attitudes and behaviour especially as it pertains to outcome of electioneering campaign had been a subject of intense debate. Regardless of why cynics might say, media of mass communication to large extent do have influence on attitude and behaviours, at least they keep people adequately informed about events happening outside their immediate experience (Nwosu 2003: 51). To buttress the above view, Baran (1991) is right when he says: “The media so fully saturate our everyday lives that we are often unconscious of their presence not to mention their influence. Media help define us, they shape our realities. There was also the issue of negative political values like rigging which can negate the effect of political advertising. Over the decades, electoral processes have always witnessed one problem or the other. Elections in Nigeria, have been marred by violence and rigging. Infact, I seriously doubt, if there had been any election in the country that has not been characterized by one electoral malpractice or the other. According to Oyediran (1976: 17), the 1964-1965 election has often been referred to as a classic case of the politics of brinkmanship. It was during the election that the first plot for military coup d’etat was planned. Myriads of factors are responsible for this unfortunate reality. One major factor is poor political socialization of the country, family, church and of course the mass media. Indeed, the purpose of this study is to find out if radio political adverting does influence voters voting behaviour in Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The zeal to pilot the affairs of the state and by extension, ensure strict compliance to acceptable pattern of shared norms which Defleuretal(1971:448) describe as “consensus” which gave rise to modern government. And while some individuals in the society assume leadership position by forcefully imposing it on themselves, as in the case of fast fading authoritarian states others attain the same goal through popular election. The later alternative is common feature of democratic variant of governance allow the members of any society while latitude of freedom to choose their leaders. Again it gives the citizens equal participation in the process of public decision making. Irrespective of the varying philosophies and the attending economic ideologies that tends to differentiate various human societies every nation aspires to project, promote and protect her socio-politically and economic interests through the effective use of mass media (radio) organs. As a result of this, Schramm and Roberts (1978: 635) argue “… each of the various forms of political power can be characterized in terms of information distribution which it allows, of how communication channels are controlled, of how and to whom information is made available”. Lasswell’s (1936) conception of politics as “a game of who gets what, when and how” still guides the political drives of most Nigerians. The burden of this study therefore is to critically examine the role of radio in a democratic society.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

This study is to analyze the role of radio in a democratic society. It is also an attempt to find out how the radio political messages determine the democratic settings and governance in a democratic society.

1.4 Significance of the Study

The result of this study will be useful to policy formulators and implementers for devising viable political campaign policies that will be in line with the socio-cultural and political orientation of the rural residents or electorates. This study will also help the government and its agencies in making policy decisions on the best way to channel political education to the rural electorates or votes for effective participation in the electoral process. Besides, the study will immensely enhance media organizations to understand the appropriate way of structuring information for its rural audience and assist them in knowing the most effective medium of political information dissemination available to rural residents.

It will also be useful to Nigerian media practitioners, communication experts, politicians, political science students, as well as other members of the public, to improve their knowledge and skills in the area of utilizing the mass media for the execution of political campaign or mobilization of rural residents.Finally, it will serve as a veritable reference material for scholars and students of political communication.

1.5 Research Hypotheses

For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;

  1. H0: radio advertising is not a potent tool of politics in Nigeria
    H1: radio advertising is a potent tool of politics in Nigeria
  2. H02: there is no significant relationship between radio broadcasting and efficient democratic governance
    H2: there is a significant relationship between radio broadcasting and efficient democratic governance

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of this study covers the role of radio in democratic society, but in the cause of the study there were some factors which limited the scope of the study;

Availability of Research Material:

The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study.


The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.


The finance available for the research work does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover.

1.7 Definition of Terms

Radio Advertising

Radio advertisements or “spots” are available when a business or service provides valuable consideration, usually cash, in exchange for the station airing their spot or mentioning them on air.

Political Advertising

In politics, campaign advertising is the use of anadvertising campaign through the media to influencepolitical debate, and ultimately, voters. These ads are designed by political consultants and political campaign staff.


An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century

1.8 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters for easy understanding as follows Chapter one is concern with the introduction which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study it’s based thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion and recommendations made of the study.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain the impact of radio political advertising on the voting behavior of ruralities during election.

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges of radio political advertising during election period.

5.2 Summary

The study shows that there were factors that radio plays a very vital role in the democratic process in any society. Radio is in competition for political content with other media channels. In modern democratic societies, one cannot talk about the public sphere without considering the mass media. They pre-structure and often dominate the public sphere, so that access to them—comprising both the consumption and the dissemination of opinions—becomes a crucial criterion for the quality of democracy. Although Habermas was not specifically concerned with the functioning of media markets from a political economy perspective, such a view underlines his fears about market domination and provides central rationales for public media regulation. Media markets are prone to market failures (particularly the formation of monopolies), but more fundamentally, commercial media evidence structural limitations regarding the democratic representation of a plurality of voices. When content is determined by an advertiser-mediated supply and demand chain, it becomes distorted by the purchasing power of the target audience. This effect is particularly visible in economically highly unequal societies and is not becoming obsolete through technological developments.

5.3 Conclusion

In conclusion, this study found out that radio is part of the mainstream media that was used in political mobilization in general election. Political content was aired through radio news, political talk shows and political adverts. The political advertisements were either in support of the presidential candidates (supportive political messages) or attacked the opponents (attack political messages). Key factors that affected the use of radio in political mobilization were categories of the media, radio stations ownership (public and private) and type of political advertisements. The factors were found statistically significant to the use of radio in political mobilization. Other factors include size of the audience, radio accessibility and affordability.

5.4 Recommendations

Haven completed the study, the following recommendations were made by the researcher; Presidential candidates should continue using radio as a tool of political mobilization but allow political messages to focus more on issues affecting citizens as opposed to campaigns on those that sell the attributes of the candidates.

There is need for marketing of radio to the political class in Nigeria so that in future they can use radio more to channel their messages to the electorate. This is because radio can reach remote areas where other mainstream media cannot.

Increase the number of radio talk shows to educate voters on their rights to vote and more so to understand issues of national importance that can be solved by electing the right person into the top leadership of the country.

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