Radio is an important and universal means of facilitating communication and for many, it can be said to be a public service critical to expressing democracy and enhancing national development. In fact, radio is a mass medium that brings a direct, personal touch to people because it uses the spoken word, for the most part, to convey its messaging.
Flourishing on conversation, call-in talk shows allow for audience participation, provide a forum for public debate on many local and regional issues, and help to set the public agenda even in terms of venting disgust against the Government.
Although it would be quite daft to ignore the immense reach and impact of communication via radio in Barbados, it is pertinent that the nation has a conversation about the successes or failures of call-in radio programmes. Without specifying each or any of the programmes heard almost daily in Barbados, radio call-in programmes often offer utility.
This is not to say that from time to time, there are periods when the same programmes fall away into useless communications. It is possible that diverse groups of persons based on their interest, education, perceived class status, wealth, power, gender or race will internalise or react to the call-in programmes with different levels of tolerance and appreciation.
Nevertheless, there is always some kind of variety regarding the callers. Their contributions, when blended with the input of the moderators, often define the quality of the radio call-in programmes.
I have come to the determination that the overall product can best be characterised as informative, obnoxious, entertaining, intolerable, educating and sometimes very overpowering. In other words, the radio call-in programmes that are being listened to in Barbados are fused with many popular but divergent textures. On any given day or even choice of programme, there is an assortment of ideas ranging from the silly to the salient, and some statements, although sounding stupid, are spoken with a seriousness beyond my simple grasp.
Yet, radio is a major player. It is this distinct and dominant effect of radio’s reach that realistically allows people, including the pious and politicians, to share their messages and agendas with a vast number of other people in a very short time period. In the same way that people connect by talking directly to each other, there is a process of humanising that takes place on radio when the moderator or caller interacts with, and may even influence, the listener based on his or her style and the delivery of their words. For some it is the voice, for others it is the substance.
The world of radio is nonetheless awash with chatter and communication; and sometimes, it is difficult to tell if the layman is the expert or if the expert is fooled by his or her own knowledge. Fortunately, numerous Barbadians tend only to listen to the radio stations and messages that they want to hear, or they avoid information which contradicts long-held beliefs. Barbadians often filter out any unwanted diatribe viewed from their nested positions of partisan comfort.
I am willing to conclude that radio is likely to remain important for a while longer. But Barbadians may grow tired of the call-in programmes possibly after becoming fed-up with loquacious moderators, know-it-all callers and bored listeners preferring to hear of a vibrant economy and peaceful society.
– ANDREW GLASGOW