Chenicheni Nchiti? Reality Radio Program

Chenicheni Nchiti? (CCN), translated as “What Is the Reality?”, is a weekly reality radio program that focuses mainly on HIV and AIDS. What makes CCN unique is that it is built on real people’s experiences, feelings and opinions, and is told in their own voices. The radio program offers a platform for open discussion about HIV and AIDS, while encouraging positive behavioral choices.

The overall goal of CCN is to spark dialogue and action across Malawi on HIV and AIDS related issues — including prevention, treatment, living positively with HIV, and stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV — by broadcasting community conversations at the national level. Exposing the general public to these conversations then stimulates more conversations on HIV and AIDS-related topics in homes and communities around the country. CCN does this through telling the intimate HIV-related personal stories of people living in the Southern districts of Malawi. In recent years, topics such as linking people to HIV-related services including voluntary medical male circumcision and preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV have been incorporated.  

To gather stories for the show, community-based field reporters are recruited from communities where BRIDGE II and SSDI-Communication (CCP’s other USAID funded project in Malawi) work. They are provided equipment and trained with basic investigation, interviewing, and recording skills. These field reporters record stories of community members for use in the program, which also features interviews with professionals working in the field of HIV prevention. CCN actively engages audience members, asking them to share their views on the personal stories and topics covered during a particular program via phone call or SMS message, and to respond to questions posted on Facebook. SMS messages are received and managed via computer using a program called Frontline SMS. On average, 500 SMS messages and 200 Facebook comments are received per program. After collecting audience questions and responses to each CCN program, a feedback program is produced to provide rapid and accurate responses to the most common questions and further promote discussion among listeners. The feedback program is aired at the end of the same week that the initial program was broadcast.


The program’s approach was so successful that SSDI-Communication joined forces with BRIDGE II to incorporate other health topics, including nutrition, malaria, family planning, maternal health, and water, sanitation, and hygiene such as  into the featured discussions, and continues to fund and provide support to the production and airing of the show.

  • According to data collected by SSDI-Communication, roughly 40% of adults in Malawi listen to CCN at least once a week.
  • CCN is aired on 16 radio stations, providing access to individuals throughout the country.
  • 201 main programs and 200 feedback programs aired.