National Dialogues Media Campaign Process

Engaging Malawi’s Radio Stations

In order to get national, district, and community radio stations on board to participate in the two National Dialogue campaigns, Galaxy Media Consultants (Galaxy) reached out to the radio stations that broadcast Chenicheni Nchiti? (CCN). Galaxy negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the radio stations to: gain their buy-in and participation, broadcast the National Dialogue content according to the BRIDGE II guidelines and during existing popular programming, collect monitoring and evaluation data, and air the programs free of charge.  Of the 16 radio stations that broadcast CCN, 13 agreed to participate, including a mix of national, regional and community radio stations, enabling the National Dialogues to potentially reach nearly all Malawians. Eleven of the stations broadcast the National Dialogue content at no charge to BRIDGE II. In exchange for the radio stations providing free air time, they received capacity building in reality programming, and radio equipment such as recorders and laptop computers each time a campaign took place. During each National Dialogue campaign, CCN was not aired, so many radio stations aired their National Dialogue programming during that time. However, they were free to air the National Dialogue content at whatever time they felt the most people would listen. BRIDGE II also provided content guidelines to facilitate on-air discussions.

Development of National Dialogue Content

The topics specified for discussion and debate during the National Dialogue Media Campaigns were decided by the BRIDGE II team, which included Story Workshop Educational Trust and Galaxy Media Consultants. The topics were broad, but the questions developed to stimulate discussion were crafted in such a way that people were able to link social and behavior issues to HIV (for example, gender based violence and how it relates to HIV risk). 

Orientation of Radio Staff

When content guidelines for the National Dialogue campaigns were ready, Galaxy organized workshops to train producers and presenters from participating radio stations on how to produce an effective dialogue program. The workshops were facilitated by BRIDGE II project staff, officials from the Ministry of Health and National AIDS Commission (NAC) as well as Galaxy.  Media personnel from all of the radio stations as well as reporters from the print media came together for the workshop. The training focused on acquainting workshop participants with the themes for the National Dialogue, orienting producers and presenters on how to design and produce a reality radio program and presenting issues in such a way that generates open and honest discussion around sensitive issues.

Airing of the National Dialogue Campaigns

The final step in the National Dialogue process was airing. Each radio station produced its own shows each week, focusing on the pre-determined themes. Both National Dialogue Media Campaigns ran for 5 weeks each. The shows used varied formats, depending on the stations’ existing programming and producers’ decisions, but all of the programs were created to stimulate open dialogue. Program formats were largely live radio programs with phone-in segments and pre-recorded programs with feedback through SMS. Galaxy mentored and monitored the radio stations during the campaign. Galaxy also organized a review meeting for all the participating partners at the end of each National Dialogue to reflect on the challenges and successes of the campaign and make plans for the next National Dialogue campaign.