Radio Roles

Radio Programming Roles

Chapter 1 - The Roles Listed


this chapter identifies and concisely describes each of the roles radio can play.

A more complete expansion of the role can be found by clicking on the Roles listed below or via the "more" hyperlink at the end of each brief description. The expanded description also contains a few discussion questions related to that role and a few short illustrations from real programs.

The entire Chapter 1 descriptions of all fourteen roles can also be downloaded here as a PDF file

The following list provides shortcuts to each of the roles directly

Role 1 — Information

Role 2 — Entertainment

Role 3 — Instruction

Role 4 — Advocacy

Role 5 — Positioning

Role 6 — Inspiration

Role 7 — Witness

Role 8 — Apologetic

Role 9 — Proclamation

Role 10 — Counselling

Role 11 — Supplementary

Role 12 — Celebration

Role 13 — Modelling

Role 14 — Interactive

Role 1 — INFORMATION: News and Current Affairs

Most people tune in their radios to hear the latest news. The integrity of radio stations is often measured by the quality of their informational programming — the better their news coverage, the greater their credibility. Throughout the world, there are societies where news is suppressed or manipulated by corrupt or authoritarian regimes. Large numbers of people are eager to find alternative broadcasters who reach out to them, and satisfy their need for trustworthy and objective coverage of local and world events.    Read more

Role 2 — ENTERTAINMENT: Enjoyment and Relaxation

Programs with music, humour, human interest, drama and other forms bring entertainment into the kitchen, bedroom, office, department store, car — even the paddy field — inexpensively.

Some might immediately doubt whether Christians should be thinking about entertainment. But consider this: communications practitioners in health promotion and community development know that if their key message is wrapped with a layer of entertainment it is far more effective. Listeners pay greater attention to it, remember it, and are more likely to act upon it.

Every program should have entertainment value if the listener is to stay tuned.    Read more.

Role 3 — INSTRUCTION: Functioning as Teachers

Radio is a marvellous medium for instructing, or providing advice where needed, especially when listeners are spread over a large area. Radio has been used to teach listeners about agriculture and health, and to gain skills in science, maths, learning a language and a wide range of other subjects. In one case, radio was even used to teach students how to draw, and it was found to be more effective than a television program on the topic!    Read more.

Role 4 — ADVOCACY: Being Agents of Change in a Broken World

There is so much injustice and poverty around us that we don’t need to look very far to find something that needs to be changed. Mass media, and especially radio, can make things happen when they serve as advocates for change. They do this best by raising awareness of critical issues in society, by initiating change and being used to resolve conflict. Read more.

Role 5 — POSITIONING: Promoting Awareness of Christian Social Concern and Action

The world needs to hear of the love and compassion that Christians are demonstrating in daily life in very practical ways. Secular media often overlook such Christian activity and it does not get reported. As Christian broadcasters we can provide a great service to the Church by taking on this valuable role.    Read more.

Role 6 — INSPIRATION: Friendship and Hope

Radio stations, particular programs, or their presenters can easily become friends to their listeners simply by being there for them every day. They become part of a person’s daily routine with familiar voices and serve to bring a measure of regularity to a person’s life. Warm and friendly voices provide daily nourishment and a sense of stability. They also build trust and hope for a better world and offset much of the negative news that can become depressing.    Read more.

Role 7 — WITNESS: Testifying to God's Presence and Activities

This is God's world. This is the main point we want to make. It does not belong to Satan — although that is the appearance given. Those who live according to the Kingdom of God are those who live right-side up in an upside down and fallen world.

We are told that the things of God are to be plainly seen — but most people need some help in seeing them. We are called to be witnesses to this truth which, while obvious to us, is not shared by the unbeliever who has a different world-view and interpretation of life.    Read more.

Role 8 — APOLOGETIC: Comparing Christian Belief with Others

Apologetics addresses itself to the task of making a rational presentation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It appeals to the mind rather than the emotions. It challenges the presuppositions and foundations of prevailing belief and value systems by addressing their inadequacies and inconsistencies. This does not mean that we develop a lot of highbrow programs for intellectuals. It does mean that we need to understand the world-view of our intended audience, so that we can consciously address aspects of their world-view that are inconsistent with the Gospel.    Read more.

Role 9 — PROCLAMATION: Declaring the Whole Gospel

A ministry of proclamation in biblical terms is concerned with declaring truth unashamedly and with clarity. We take our cue from the Old Testament prophets who spoke the words of God. Although we make the mistake of confusing the word prophecy with foretelling the future, proclamation is what the prophets did: warning of coming judgement and the coming of Christ as well as clearly stating the truth about God and the Gospel of the Kingdom. In our attempts to make creative programs we Christian producers sometimes neglect to give a clear presentation of what the Bible teaches.    Read more.

Role 10 — COUNSELLING: Being Close to our Listener

Radio presenters become friends rather than mere personalities in the lives of their listeners and our programs offer the opportunity to minister to them in personal ways. 

Experiences around the world shows that such programs are relevant and have great impact. This is especially true of late-night programs. The busyness of the day no longer crowds out underlying fears and problems and with the closing in of the night comes the darkness of their problems and feelings, loneliness and despair.    Read more.

Role 11 — SUPPLEMENTARY: Providing Helpful Resources

Supplementary programming has the role of filling in the gaps or meeting observed needs — as best we can — through the responsive use of radio. In FEBC's experience we have exercised this role especially by providing radio programs that help, teach and encourage believers in situations where the local church cannot meet their needs. This role is an ultimate test of radio's flexibility. It calls for us to set aside preconceived notions about what radio is good for and allows us to experiment with less-conventional uses of radio in response to specific needs.    Read more.

Role 12 — CELEBRATION: Celebrating with Joy the Good News

Christians should not neglect the importance of joy — celebration and enjoyment. What will our listeners think if, while looking to their radios for entertainment and relaxation, they often find heavy, serious, issue-oriented subjects and presentations? A role of programming is to demonstrate what we have to celebrate and how we celebrate it. Music and other art forms are ideal ways of expressing this. But do we do enough of it? Singing has always been one of the characteristics of Christianity. It is a sign of joy and happiness — attributes that communicate powerfully with the human spirit.    Read more.

Role 13 — MODELLING: Demonstrating Christian Community

We cannot separate radio from community. Radio, used in the right way, fosters a strong sense of community and models Christian community to our listeners.

Most Christian radio stations are established on an interdenominational basis and so are already in the process of working across the denominational spectrum. A direct result of this is that Christians from a wide variety of denominations can all look to the station and say this is our station. Radio has a unifying effect among believers. But how do we cope with shades in theological persuasion or denominational distinctives?    Read more.

Role 14 — INTERACTIVE: Participatory Listener Involvement

The traditional understanding of radio has been that it is a one-way channel of communication. But as the dynamics of communication have become better understood radio has been increasingly effective where the community it serves is involved or participates.    Read more.

 Download complete Chapter 1 description of all fourteen roles as a PDF document.