As human society grew from the dark ages to modernity, there arose the need to communicate not only with people in the same environment but also those scattered in various parts of the world. A good example of the need arose and during the First World War when there was a high need for communication among combatants and their command bases. This led to the invention of the wireless communication, (Idebi 2008, p.1).


At the end of this unit, you should be able to:

  1.  present an overview of the growth of radio in Nigeria
  2. discuss ownership and control of radio
  3.  describe networking on radio.


3.1 Definition of Radio

Radio involves the process by which messages are sent through electrical waves. In other words, sound could be sent and received through these waves, (Sambe, 2008:75).
Further, according to Idebi (2008:1) the word Radio is defined as the process of sending and receiving messages through the air, using electromagnetic waves. It is also about the activity of broadcasting programmes for people to listen to the programmes being broadcast.

The history dates back to the 19th century when Samuel Morse invented the electric telegraph. Later Gugielmo Marconi built the first radio factory in Britain and worked on this invention to produce electromagnetic impulses, which could be sent through the air without wires, making it possible for the human voice to be transmitted over long distances. This technique was successfully used and signals were transmitted from England to America in 1866.

In 1888, Heinrich Hertz, a German working on the electromagnetic theory propounded earlier on by a British scientist, James Clark Maxwell, produced the first radio waves. Marconi, working tirelessly on Hertz’s findings, succeeded in inventing what was called radio telephony or the telegraph in Italy in 1895.  By 1898, military formations in America began to manufacture transmitters for broadcasting and communication generally.


  1. What is radio?
  2.  By what means are messages transmitted over long distances?

3.2 The Growth of Radio in Nigeria

The growth of radio in Nigeria has been a slow but interesting process. Radio was introduced in Nigeria as a wired system called radio distribution or radio re-diffusion by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). In this process, wires were connected to loudspeakers installed in houses of subscribers. The wireless system was introduced by the BBC in 1930. The wired broadcasting services were commissioned in Lagos on December 1, 1935, and two relay stations were located at Ikoyi and the Glover Memorial Hall, both in Lagos.

The main duty of the relay was to carry BBC programmes, with just one hour left for local programmes featuring news, entertainment as well as local announcements. Other stations were later opened at Ibadan in 1939, Kano 1944, and Kaduna, Enugu, Jos, Zaria, Abeokuta, Ijebu Ode, Port Harcourt and Calabar in the subsequent years.

The colonial government then came up with a policy to carry out a survey on radio broadcasting in all the British colonies including Nigeria. A committee was set up headed by L. W. Turner of the BBC Engineering Department and F. A. W. Byron of the Telecommunications Department of the Crown Agents. The committee recommended a wireless system of broadcasting for the colony of Nigeria.

According to Ladele (1979), cited in Sambe (2008:83), an old building on 32 Marina, close to the General Post Office, was renovated as temporary headquarters. In addition, the Kaduna and Enugu Radio Diffusion Services were restructured and converted to regional broadcasting houses.
The Radio Diffusion Services (RDS) later became the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS) and was basically concerned with satisfying the programme needs of its audience, with the traditional role of informing, educating and entertaining the audience members.

The NBS put up a remarkable performance, especially during the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Nigeria. The NBS upheld the role of impartiality; the colonial government on the other hand did not give all the Nigerian nationalists the opportunity to react to accusations leveled against them.

Against this backdrop, the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation was established on April 1, 1957, to replace the NBS. The establishment of NBC marked the first public broadcasting corporation established in any British colonial territory. But not satisfied with the new arrangements, the Western Regional Government established its radio and television station in 1959.

Eastern Nigeria followed in 1960 on the day Nigeria had its political independence from Britain. Northern Nigeria followed suit in 1962. Today, virtually all the states own and operate both radio and television stations.


  1. What was responsible for the change from the Nigerian Broadcasting Service to the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation?

3.3 Ownership and Control of Radio

There are two types of ownership and control of radio. These are:

  1.  Government Ownership and Control: Here, the government establishes, runs and operates the station. This happens at federal, regional or state levels. If it were possible for local governments in Nigeria to operate and run a station, there is likely to be no difference. Government control usually is the responsibility of the Ministry of Information. Government finances the system, that is, it pays staff emoluments and censors the programme materials when necessary. The censorship is meant to arrest the situation whereby negative news will be broadcast against the government.
  2.  Private Ownership and Control: Certain stations are owned by individuals and corporate organisations and institutions. Government can regulate the activities of such organisations to some extent as spelt out by the National Broadcasting Commission Act No. 35 of 1992, Subsection 9, Article 13. In such situations, the station generates its revenue by the sale of airtime, by carrying out advertisements, by endorsements or by getting donations from well-wishers.


  1. Name and discuss the types of ownership and control of radio broadcast stations.

3.4 Features of Radio

There are certain features that radio stations cannot be divorced from. According to Sambe (2008:5) they include the following:

  1.  Radio reports what is happening now or what has just happened as current.
  2.  It is always in search of new ideas and creativity because it has the ability to consume programme materials.
  3.  Radio signals are received in many places within the primary service and bordering areas at the same time, thus it overcomes air and other barriers.
  4. Radio broadcasting is prone to interference from weather, local thunderstorms etc.
  5. It is flexible in pre-erupting the schedule programmes and has freedom of time.
  6. It is very effective in mobilising people; hence it bypasses illiteracy and appeals to the individual person.

According to Dominick (2002:75), radio personalises the news. Unlike newspapers where a byline is the only thing that identifies the reporter, radio news has commentators and reporters with names, voices, distinctive delivery styles and personalities. Furthermore, radio helps to popularise different kinds of music.


  1. Mention six features of radio and discuss them.

3.5 Networking

In Nigeria, radio broadcasting has only one network, which is the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria. Network simply means chain broadcasting. In chain broadcasting, programmes are broadcast by cable or by microwave relays, from the point of origin to the outlet stations of the network.

Sambe (2008:80) declares that networks are the major sources of programming for the stations, part of the network schedule is produced directly by the stations; another part is supplied by other sources in which the network has an interest. Advertisers also supply some materials to be broadcast if such materials suit the standard of the network and fit the time segment.

The final decision as to what materials are aired on the network is the sole responsibility of the network. However, because of the diverse cultural nature of Nigeria and in order to integrate the nationwide line-up of stations to meet advertisers’ desired market coverage, sometimes the network bends to the advertisers and their agencies. Programmes aired by the network are broadcast throughout the country at the same time. And this is the only means through which programmes can reach national audiences.

Sambe (2008:81) further points that one of the fundamental objectives of the national programme is to reflect the federal character in the programme input – output of the corporation in accordance with the diversity of Nigeria’s culture and nationwide audience. The different programme types on the national network include features, documentaries, religious broadcasts, sports, discussions, interviews, talks, educational services, news and current affairs. It is not just important but also mandatory and in the public interest that all state government-owned radio stations hookup to the national network service during the national news bulletin.


  1. What is the major fundamental objective of radio networking in Nigeria?


We have discussed the definition of radio, growth of radio in Nigeria, government ownership and control, private ownership and control, features of radio and networking.

Radio is one of the principal means of disseminating information, entertaining and educating the people, both rural based and urban based populace in a given society.


Radio stations established and controlled by federal or state governments, or individuals have one thing in common: they are out to reach the intended audience in the dissemination of news. And each station operates according to the standard prescribed by the owners. The stations also operate according to the standards such stations set for themselves.


  1.  What is networking?
  2.  Discuss the features of radio.
  3. What do you know about ownership and control of radio?