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Internet new front in battle for airwaves

By By Fredrick Obura | November 20th 2012

By Fredrick Obura

One of the biggest developments in broadcasting that has completely changed the rules of the game is streaming live or pre-recorded content online. The rapid adoption of Internet and changing consumption trends means that the medium through which people access broadcast content has widened to include social media platforms such as twitter, facebook and youtube. Media houses have had to act fast to tap into the growing online community.

The focus seems to have shifted to videos/live stream content, a development that is expected to give television and radio stations that are yet to adopt the new online strategy a run for their advertising money.

Media consumption

It has dawned on a number of television and radio stations, both local and international, that it is no longer business as usual and have now taken their battle for viewers/listeners to online, in an effort to exploit the enormous opportunities that the Internet offers in terms of reaching audiences across boundaries. Media houses have now formed fully fledged online or digital divisions in their strategic move, at a time when traditional media is threatened—with increasingly changing trends in media consumption. 

Most mainstream stations such as KTN, Radio Maisha and a dozen of local stations have recently changed tact to reach their audiences through streaming live or pre-recorded programmes.  This means someone can listen or watch on the go or in offices. Interestingly, the segment has also seen the rise of a new crop of start-ups, using technology—online and telephones to reach listeners. In September, US-based Kenyan investors set up an online radio station Jambo Boston Radio (www.jambobostonradio.com) that allows Kenyans and others in the diaspora to listen to Kenyan and regional news through online or telephone.

Boston-based businessman Sammy Maina, the founder of the radio station, says the station airs in East Africa’s most spoken language, Kiswahili, and Kikuyu. “All Kenyans abroad can listen to our station. Ironically, Kenyans back at home in Kenya are our second biggest listeners,” Maina, adds, “We are the only radio station in the diaspora that uses a local dialect (Kikuyu), interviews Kenyans in Kenya as well as have boots on the ground.” 

He says currently the station, which former Kameme Radio presenter Njoki Wa Ndegwa hosts programmes, has listeners in over 30 countries and it hit a million hits on October 31. The station is a community-oriented radio based in the US that is targeted primarily at Kenyans living in the diaspora.

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Maina says he has been dealing mainly in wholesale and retail of international calling minutes (MarionsTel.com) for a long time. Born and raised up in Kericho in the Rift Valley, the entrepreneur later moved to the US where he ventured into business in 2005 in Ohio before moving to Boston.

“The best thing my wife and I ever did is to ‘adopt’ four blind siblings after seeing their story on KTN. We will pay for their entire needs for as long as they need us. We have bought them a one-acre land next to their school and we are soon building them a three-bedroom house,” he says.

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