Communication being a basic human need like food, shelter and clothing, no society can exist without it. It regulates and shapes all human behaviour. Users take an active part in the communication process and are goal-oriented in their media use. The theorists say that a media user seeks out a media source that best fulfills the needs of the user. Uses and gratifications assume that the users have alternate choices to satisfy their needs.
For the past fifteen years India has been exposed to a new kind of broadcasting that is FM. It began when radio was almost forgotten and it was believed that radio would exist only in people’s memories. Soon after the FM broadcasts started they became part of everyday life in India. Listeners found in FM a close companion. They seemed to open their heart out to Radio Jockeys, Legal Counseling, Career, Health, Relationships, Hobbies, Business and Traffic Updates. Psychological counseling and other issues related to metropolitan life became part of these new broadcasts.
Today FM providing listeners with unbiased news, good music, development in current events and sports update. Live traffic updates, daily exchange rates, price of groceries and other market commodities and most importantly, different genres of music, have already made it popular among the masses.
The FM radio stations take up local issues, sometimes so local as to be village-specific. The programs are made in the local dialect so even the illiterates can understand them. The producers involve local communities in preparing the programs and the issues reflect what is important to a village or a group of villages. This has helped to make local governance more responsive and transparent.
Review of Literature
The present study was designed to examine the uses of the private FM radio medium and audience gratifications. It explores the performance of private FM radio programs, their uses and the audience choice of gratifications. These are evaluated with factors of demography media accessibility and audience perception of media other related influences. Keeping the above in view, the relevant and related literature has been reviewed and presented here.
Uses and Gratifications Theory
The uses and gratifications perspective takes the view of the media consumer. It examines how people use the media and the gratifications they seek and receive from their media behaviors. Uses and gratifications researchers assume that audience members are aware for consuming various media content. The basic theme of uses and gratifications is the idea that people use the media to get specific gratifications. This is in opposition to the Hypodermic Syringe model that claims consumers have no say in how the media influences them. The main idea of the Uses and Gratifications model is that people are not helpless victims of all powerful media, but use media to fulfill their various needs. These needs serve as motivations for using media.
Aims and Objectives of the Study
The objective of this research was to study the media behavior, listening habits, popularity of FM radio channels, language used and impact of programs on listeners. A sample of 300 people was chosen randomly. The research was in the nature of a survey. Data was collected through questionnaire and was analyzed with the help of SPSS software.
- To explore listening habits of FM radio audiences.
- To examine general media preferences among FM radio listeners–likes and dislikes, favorite programs, personalities etc.
- To find out the reason for listening to FM radio station.
- Listeners’ perception about the coverage of news and current affairs.
- Music programming is universally popular and a strong reason, especially amongst the younger age groups, for tuning into a particular station
- Interactivity in programs, such as responding to listeners’ letters and phone-ins, increases listening.
The research design was guided by the following broad aspects.
- What is the use of FM channel programs to the audience?
- What are the expectations of the listeners and what uses and gratification are sought from FM radio channels?
- To identify listeners’ opinions of a target radio station – why do they listen? How do they describe the news coverage on the station and why?
Audience Perceptions of Radio Programming in Tamilnadu is an evaluation of listeners’ opinions based on qualitative and quantitative research method conducted at Thanjore district in Tamilnadu to assess audience perceptions of four key radio stations. Qualitative and quantitative research (triangulation) was used for this study.
The opinion of the respondents required for the study is collected directly from the listeners by using face to face interview method of data collection.
More than 95% of the respondents cooperated in this study and about 5% did not respond properly. Clearly, the sampling procedures need to be more systematic.
This study required random selection of respondents from the sample frame. Another aspect of representative concerned selecting a specific respondent from each gender. For this study, samples are selected randomly from among the regular listeners of FM.
- All participants must listen to radio regularly – at least one night per week
- All must have access to the target radio station in each city and listen to the target station
- Each group had a mix of light, medium and heavy listeners of the target station
- Groups were divided according to gender and age:
- Male 18 to 29
- Male 30+
- Female 18 to 29
- Female 30
- Old age
- Family income
- Marital status
The research revealed a number of patterns relating to general media preferences of FM radio listeners:
- Listeners regularly switch radio stations to listen to a particular program or the presenters they like.
- Men and women listen at different times of the day, men more frequently in the early mornings and evenings, women during the day.
- Interactivity (such as phone-in and letters) in programming appeals to listeners.
- Programs that offer help, advice and have educational benefits are popular.
- Listeners dislike language that is overly formal and difficult but equally dislike language that is regarded as trivial or inappropriate.
- There are generational and gender differences in program preferences, with the younger audiences drawn especially to music programs.
- Music programming is universally popular and a strong reason, especially amongst the younger age groups, for choosing to tune into a particular station.
- More men expressed preference for news programming than women.
- Younger women and men listen to the radio mainly for the music, but they also like programs that specifically focus on young people and the issues and problems that affect their lives. Young people particularly enjoy interactive programs where they can get advice from the presenter and experts in the studio. Programs that have some educational benefit are also popular among the young.
- People listen to FM at home (78%), while driving (8%), at public and other places (7%) and at the office (7%).
- Almost 62% of the people listen to FM for an average of one hour a day and another 39% listen to FM for a longer period of 1-3 hours a day.
- Majority of the people listen to new hit film songs (63%) followed by old songs (40%), other language songs (37%).
- Majority of the people need awareness programs and news related programs through the FM.
- While participants were by and large enthusiastic about what they hear on the FM radio, several dislikes were mentioned:
- The use of language that is too formal and therefore difficult to understand.
- Poor sound quality, including background noise and interference, distract from listening and enjoyment.
It is a fact that radio can be a more appealing medium due to its non-intrusive nature, its immediacy and its high local content appeal. It just needs a push in the right direction at the right time to become much more than a fringe player in this competitive market where there are numerous choices for the audiences as well as the advertisers.
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