Chai FM is a community radio station owned by a collective of tea growers in the south-western highlands of Tanzania. Like other local community stations, it had long looked to big advertisers for financial support. However, those advertisers do not always consider local stations as viable outlets for their ads.
Training offered by Internews’ local partner, Jamii Media, on how to turn radio programs into revenue centers by spotting and supporting local business needs, helped the station see other opportunities they’d overlooked. This was enabled by the Boresha Habari (“Better News”) project in Tanzania, funded by USAID and implemented by Internews, which supports media sustainability and better business practices among local independent media.
Chai FM operates amid a vast farming community, which besides growing tea, also produces coffee, bananas, and dairy. Jamii Media suggested focusing on dairy farmers, with targeted content.
“We established a 30-minute agriculture program, which is currently sponsored by local agriculture shops and small milk processors. Apart from that, we have a 15-minute program which is sponsored by one of Tanzania’s largest milk processors,” said Ally Kingo, Chai FM station manager.
The radio programs teach dairy farmers how to keep, treat and properly feed their animals for quality milk. Milk prices have risen in tandem, raising revenue for the farmers.
For Chai FM, increased revenues from the program are supporting daily station operations, which were previously dependent on association fees.
“A few months ago, we had a transmitter breakdown, but we managed to repair it ourselves from the funds we generated from the agriculture program. We did not ask for help from the members,” said Kingo.
Journalist Betrida Mwasambalila says the improved financial state of the station has enabled her to reach the forgotten farmers outside the urban center, sharing with them the best ways of preserving milk.
“This program has not only helped Chai FM economically, but also taught women who own and rear the livestock, how to generate income by showing them where the milk market is,” said Mwasambalila.
Mwasambalila says had it not been for Jamii Media’s training, they would not have thought of creating the program.
Advertisers are happy too.
“I get a lot of customers because of Chai FM. I advertise my business via their agricultural program segments,” said Furaha Mshua, who operates a small business selling seeds and pesticides in urban Tukuyu. “I also get the chance to explain proper methods of applying fertilizer and proper care of livestock. In the past I was unknown, but now I have increased the number of customers through advertising on the radio,” she said.
Dr. Israel Mwalyaje, a veterinarian, says it would have been very hard for him to reach every dairy farmer individually to educate them on livestock keeping.
“I use this radio program to reach more farmers simultaneously. From the calls and messages received during the programs, I believe that I have been able to reach a lot of farmers and I see the changes as dairy farmers have increased the quantity and quality of milk production. I thank Chai FM for this,” said Dr. Mwalyaje.