Is anybody out there?
Research Manager, Middle East and North Africa for BBC Media Action
Anniversary concert to mark the 57th anniversary of Algerian national radio
Earlier this month the people of Algeria celebrated the 57th anniversary of the creation of their national radio – originally launched in secret to counteract the propaganda of the colonial administration.The anniversary was marked by a concert in the capital city, Algiers.
The event was headlined by Imzad an Algerian group whose music is based on the traditional Algerian instrument of the same name. A wide range of people attended; from teenagers to grandmothers and from taxi drivers to company directors. Yet by the end of the night everyone was dancing together in the aisles. The concert was also broadcast live on three of Algeria’s national radio stations.
The next day, I led a training session at the national radio. I talked to the delegates about the diversity of the audience at the concert and their enthusiasm for the music of Algeria. But when I asked if the audience listening to the concert on the radio was equally enthusiastic no one knew the answer.
I was not surprised; radio and television broadcasting are peculiar forms of communication. Most of the communication is one-directional. Radio is not like a concert where the performers can see if the audience is dancing in the aisles. The broadcaster can only assume their programmes are being watched or listened to. However to find out if their assumption is true they need audience research.
Aiding the creative process
Knowing more about their audiences can give producers essential information to aid the creative process of programme making. It can also help make more efficient use of limited resources. At present, there is little or no audience research conducted in Algeria. There is however a clear desire for this information. The trainees from the national radio wanted to know who is listening to their programmes, what their audiences like and what they would like more of. In particular, whether their youth radio station Jil FM, is providing the type of programmes young Algerians need and want.
I shared my experience of conducting audience research for Media Action across the Middle East and North Africa region. We discussed how research can be conducted in Algeria and came up with a plan for this small group of broadcasters to conduct focus group research across Algeria over the next three months.Hopefully, one of the things we will find out is whether the radio audience is as diverse and as enthusiastic about the music of Algeria as the people dancing in the aisles to Imzad.