THE IMPACT OF PHONE-IN PROGRAMMES Mass Communication Project Topics

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Communication is said to be the life blood of every society. There is therefore a need to know what communication is all about.

Communication as a discipline has continued to attract new definitions from time to time so that no single definition is accepted by scholars interested in the field.

Communication as an academic discipline, sometimes called “communicology” relates to all the ways we communicate, so it embraces a large body of study and knowledge. Although, there is such a thing as one-way communication, communication can be better described as a two way process in which there is an exchange of ideas, thoughts, feelings towards a mutually accepted goal or direction.

Hence, the process of a phone-in-programme. Mass media are important communication strategy to generate awareness and disseminate information. In most developing countries, Nigeria inclusive, radio is an effective medium to reach the general population. Unlike TV and print , radio phone-in-programmes are popular platforms for direct audience participation to exchange views and voice concerns on issues to increase knowledge, encourage open discussion on health and other socially relevant issues and promote sustained behavioural change.

In broadcasting, a phone-in is a programme format in which listeners are invited to air their live comments by telephone, usually in respect of a specific topic selected for discussion on the day of broadcast.

According to research, BBC radio Nottingham is credited with having aired the first phone-in on February 4 1968, a programme called “What Are They Up To Now”?

Speech-based Talk Radio UK was launched in 1995, with much of its programming featuring phone-in-programmes.

Ian Hutchby researched poor relations in phone-in-programmes looking at arguments and confrontations. Using conversation analysis, he describes how the host retains power through devices such as “the second position” – the concept of going second in a discussion, giving the host time to formulate a response.

Similarly, the last word is always the broadcasting word. The audience can choose to end the conversation, but they are doing so by withdrawing from the interactional arena. Hutchby (1996) Talbot et al.

Though it cannot be stated in actual fact the date phone-in-programme began in Nigeria. According to research, it started before the advent of global system for mobile telecommunications (GSM) putting it in the 1980s. However, since the introduction of GSM in 2000 there has been an increase in audience participation in phone-in-programmes.


This research work is informed by this innovation in broadcasting especially the introduction of phone-in segment in almost every programme being aired on both public and private radio stations across the country.

One of the problems is the implication of having a wrong audience choice which is better imagined. This would make the presenter have negative feedback. This is because there are some audience members who participate in discussions that are not meant for them.

There is no gainsaying the fact that radio stations are out to perform the basic role of informing, educating and entertaining the target audience. However, another problem is the lure of including phone-in segments in most of the programmes which are capable of rendering them elitist, taking into consideration the number of people that can afford to buy a mobile phone.

Yet another problem is the fact that phone-in programmes are equally seen as an escapist approach of getting people to participate in programmes when they are not adequately informed about the issues involved.


It is noticed that the idea of phone-in is now prevalent among radio stations. This study is on radio broadcasting. This decision is made from the fact that the medium appears the cheapest and most accessible to the common man as the radio set is portable and can easily pick up signals from far distances.

The advent of phone-in programmes on radio has increased the pace of audience participation in radio programmes.

This research work takes a critical look at “Soul Mender” as a phone-in programme introduced to enable the public make meaningful contributions to issues under discussion which are considered as having direct effect on them both individually and collectively.

The aim of this research work is to find out if the programme justifies its existence.

This research work is carried out towards formulating a guiding principle that could help regulate audience participation on radio with a view to having a standard format that could enhance more qualitative programming


A phone-in programme could be an instantaneous way of having feedback on any given idea, policy or measure about to be introduced either by a corporate organization, an individual or government of the day. It is obviously the best form of testing the acceptability of new ideas, opinions and policies.

This study is therefore significant because it is capable of enabling the sampling of opinion without necessarily undergoing the tedious voting process. This would make the listeners part and parcel (active) of decision making or policy formulation.

The participatory nature of phone-in programme is expected to give an individual radio listener a sense of belonging and not make him an inactive receiver of information and ideas passed across by the radio.

It is therefore the opinion of this researcher that the appraisal of this phone-in programme will go a long way to enhancing quality production and presentation, as well as making it truely audience participatory.


To what extent has the phone-in programme “Soul Mender” on Grace FM provided the expected feedback required of the target audience?

When does a phone-in programme become important in the programmes planning of Grace FM?

How truely interactive is “Soul Mender” on Grace FM?



Alternative H1: the phone-in programme “Soul Mender” on Grace FM to an extent provides the expected feedback required of the target audience.

Null H0: The phone-in programme “Soul Mender” on Grace FM to an extent does not provide the expected feedback required of the target audience.


Alternative H1: A phone-in programme is important in the programme planning on Grace FM.

Null H0: A phone-in programme is not important in the programme planning on Grace FM.


Alternative H1: “Soul Mender” on Grace FM is truely interactive.

Null H0: “Soul Mender” on Grace FM is not truely interactive.


IMPACT: According to oxford advanced learners’ dictionary, it is to have an immediate and strong effect on something or somebody.

IMPACT: It is the influence a phone-in programme has on the listening audience as well as the impression they are left with about the programme even after it is brought to conclusion.

PHONE-IN: According to Encarta dictionaries, it is a radio or television programme in which audience members can participate by telephone and ask questions, make contributions or take part in discussions about a particular subject with the host and any quests.

PHONE-IN: It is a segment in a radio programming schedule in which topical and important issues are tabled for discussion. This enables audience participation and allows the media body or outfit elicit feedback from its audience who are interested in the topic of discussion.

PROGRAMME: According to oxford advanced learners dictionary, it is a film, play, activity etc that is broadcast on television for people to watch or on radio for them to listen to.

PROGRAMME: It is a schedule of activities to be carried out and aired in a media house, be it radio or television.


Phone-in programme is now prevalent among radio stations as it serves as an instantaneous way of having feedback on any policy or topical issue from the audience.

The researcher therefore assumes that the study will throw up the importance of the chosen phone-in programme to the audience and media house, as this will shed more and better light on the act of audience participation in radio discussions through phone-in programmes.

The researcher also assumes that the study will create an understanding in the contributions of phone-in programme to the technicalities that make up the act of communication as a whole.

1.9                        LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

In Nigeria, there are various radio stations that air phone-in programmes either as a segment in a programme or as a whole phone-in programme. It is therefore impossible to study the whole radio houses in Nigeria. Therefore the researcher decided to study Grace 95.5 FM in Lokoja, Kogi state.

The said station airs five phone-in programmes. The researcher in her discretion picked “Soul Mender”, a phone-in programme aired every Wednesday between the hours of 10pm-12 midnight which tackles relationship problems as it affects everyday living. This will be the limit of this research work.


Hutchby, I. (1996). Interactional Communication. London: Oxford printing press.

Okunna, S. (1994). Introduction to Mass Communication. Enugu: Abic publishers.

“History of Phone-in Programmes”. Retrieved January 7, 2010, from

“Phone-in Programmes”. Retrieved January 7, 2010, from

This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research

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