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Uganda Private Radio Stations 3

“The battles for control of government were always fought around Radio Uganda,” he says, “not Parliament or State House, but the power seemed to lie in this single communication outlet. This is not possible anymore.”

In addition to stabilizing politics, this also has contributed to the economy, he says.

“To some extent, this has contributed to the difficulty of staging coups, which is good for economic development of the country,” he says.

Private investment in FM radio brings good income to the proprietors, and it also provides employment for many people, Katto says.

“A good example is the local music industry, which has grown tremendously because of FM radios stations,” he says. “Local music has found a friendly and conducive outlet.”

After years of the people living in fear during military dictatorships and guerilla warfare in which hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives, radio has also played a role in the country’s healing process, he says.

“The opening of Sanyu FM and the others that subsequently followed played a significant role in the psychological recovery of the people,” Katto says. “After more than 20 years of being muzzled and killed by the various regimes, now Ugandans could call in and air their views and be heard by millions of others. In that way, FM radios have played a motivational role, and it is still true today.”

Listeners affirm the benefit of the now hundreds of privately owned FM radio stations across Uganda.

Sam Muganga runs a secretarial and photocopying business in Bukoto, a suburb of Kampala. He says he makes sure to listen to the talk shows on FM radios because they are educational. He also enjoys the music.

“The music is very entertaining and provides good leisure after a hard day’s work,” he says. “Some of the local music carries good messages, such as gospel and counseling.”

Abdul Kizito, manager of a boutique on William Street in Kampala’s business district, says that some FM radio stations broadcast programs that teach listeners skills. He has heard programs on how to make candles, how to start a small business without much capital and how to market one’s own products in order to avoid middlemen.

Esther Sempala operates a small business selling fresh food and fruits in a Kampala suburb. She listens to FM radio throughout the day at her stall.

She says the radio helps her to do well in her business because the stations broadcast the commodity prices. With this knowledge, she can avoid being cheated by wholesalers.

She says that she also likes the political programs on the radio because they help her to understand what each political party stands for. Through the radio debates, the achievements and weakness of various political leaders are exposed, which sensitizes people so that they are not easily deceived.

“The debates on the talk shows, especially those that host leaders from all political parties help people to know the difficult period the country went through and to appreciate the development that has taken place,” she says.

She also likes the music that the stations play and especially the songs that carry messages about, for example, good marriages. She listens to football commentaries as well, particularly on her favorite teams: Manchester United and, locally, the Uganda Cranes.

Listeners can also participate in radio. For example, some stations set time aside for talking about moral issues, and listeners can call in to comment or to ask questions.

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