KINGSTON – Just a year after the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) embarked on a new approach to its radio programmes, the format is being lauded by a number of media managers for its effectiveness and suitability for the 21st Century radio listener.
The new approach, which became effective on March 1, 2010,involves the production of five minute news and features, which are broadcast at different times throughout the day on radio stations across the island. On Saturdays and Sundays, two 15-minute programmes are aired, but these are scheduled to be adjusted in keeping with the new format.
Commenting on the new approach, General Manager at Power 106, Newton James, says the new format is also well suited for its Music 99 station.
“Rather than dropping out a half-an-hour segment, we can put in these shorter versions, which do not really disturb our listenership patterns,” he reasons.
For his part, Programmes Manager at News Talk 93 FM, Winston Ridgard says: “It’s an excellent idea, which works well for our format and we appreciate it very much."
Mr. Ridgard tells JIS News that he has had no negative responses from listeners or other stakeholders regarding the new approach.
“When the idea came up, there were some negative comments from the media generally, because it was felt that it was going to be used for political propaganda, but the information is quite useful,” he says.
“In fact, the information in (the features) is not necessarily stories that we would have emphasised. It is not political… (but) community matters with relevant information going out to the (people). It’s a good idea. Congratulations!” he emphasises.
Sharing similar sentiments, Programmes Manager at KLAS 89 FM, Tony Young says the new format for radio programming has been quite effective. “I think it works better for us, instead of having one half-an-hour programme, where sometimes people’s attention span breaks because of various reasons. The five-minute features that you (have)… work out better for everybody, for our listeners and your listeners too,” he notes.
He made special mention of the feature, ‘Roundabout JA’, which he says is a popular hit with radio audiences. “We get a lot of calls in terms of locations you have highlighted in that programme,” he informs.
“Generally speaking, I think it is working. We have had no negative comments about the JIS features and where they are slotted,” Mr. Young adds.
In the meantime, Chief Executive Officer at the JIS, Donna-Marie Rowe, notes that more that 90 per cent of major radio stations have accepted the new format and have effectively managed to rework their programming schedule.
“We are very pleased that this month we are able to celebrate the first anniversary of dividing the time allotted for government broadcasts into five-minute slots,” says Mrs. Rowe.
“I just want to take this opportunity to express our appreciation for their (radio stations) support in getting the information out to Jamaicans here and abroad, because many of them broadcast live on the Internet,” she notes.
“We continue to fulfill our mandate of educating and informing Jamaicans here and abroad about government’s policies, programmes and institutions and thank the radio stations for partnering with us as we disseminate public information,” Mrs. Rowe adds.
Explaining the rationale for the change in approach, Minister with responsibility for Information, Hon. Daryl Vaz, told the House in his Sectoral Presentation last year that, “the burden of creativity rests more strenuously on the shoulders of the Government communicators” and that the “menu had to be aligned to the taste of our radio and television audiences."
He stressed that there had to be a calibration with the changes which had already taken place and had become standardised in media. “We aim, very simply, to break up the time allotted …to make the information more accessible, listener-friendly and more suited to people’s viewing and listening patterns,” the Minister said.
Giving her view, Director of Production at the JIS, Enthrose Campbell, explains that the new format was implemented to provide the public with more information on government policies, through a much more concise and compact approach.
“We used to have a 30-minute programme called the Jamaica Magazine, but not many people were able to listen to the entire 30 minutes. We are doing shorter pieces so listeners can hear one achievement at a time (in an entire programme),” she says.
Miss Campbell adds that the new format also gives the staff of JIS an opportunity to showcase their skills in producing “cutting edge programmes that will capture the attention of listeners."
In addition to the radio stations mentioned, persons can tune in to Hot 102, Kool FM, Mello FM 88, Irie FM, Northern Caribbean University (NCU) radio, Nationwide News Network (NNN), and Bess FM for the new five-minute news and features, which are aired from as early as 4:55 a.m. and as late as 10:00 p.m.
The full schedule is on the JIS website at: www.jis.gov.jm and listeners can also catch the programmes online.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter