The history of radio broadcasting in Nigeria can be traced back to 1932 when the British colonial authority felt the urge to establish a link with their colonies in a bid to promote their political, economic and cultural values. Arguably, radio was seen as a powerful instrument in the hands of the colonial masters to mobilize and inform the colonies on the activities of the government in Britain as well as impose economic systems on them. To this effect, necessary steps were taken to accelerate the provision of broadcasting services in the colonial empire to coordinate such activities with the British Broadcasting corporation as well as to make them more effective instruments for promoting both local and imperialistic interests.
THE EMERGENCE OF FM BROADCASTING IN NIGERIA
As earlier stated, radio first came to Nigeria in 1932. At that time Nigeria was under the British colonial rule. Radio started with the introduction of the Radio Distribution system in the year 1933 in Lagos by the British colonial government under the department of Post and Telegraphs (P&T). The Radio Distribution System (RDS) was a reception base for the British Broadcasting corporation and a relay station, through wire systems, with loudspeakers at the listening end. In 1935, the Radio Distribution system was changed to Radio Diffusion System. The aim was to spread the efforts of Britain and her allies during the second world war through the BBC.
The Ibadan station was commissioned in 1939, followed by the Kano station in 1944. Later, a re-appraisal of radio broadcast objectives gave birth to the establishment of the Nigerian Broadcasting service in April 1950. The Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS) began broadcast in Lagos, Ibadan, Kaduna, Kano and Enugu on short wave and medium wave transmitters.
Through a Bill by the House of Representatives, the Nigerian Broadcasting corporation (NBC) was established in 1956. Its mission was to provide as a public service, an independent and impartial broadcasting service. By 1962, the NBC had expanded its broadcast stations into Sokoto, Maiduguri, Ilorin, Zaria, Jos, and Katsina in the North; Port Harcourt, Calabar, and Onitsha, in the East; and Abeokuta, warri and Ijebu.ode in the West. Each of these stations was considered a subsidiary station of a regional station.
The subsidiary stations broadcast local interest programs during the day and then relayed programming from their regional station during the rest of the broadcast day. National programs were broadcast from two short wave transmitters and one medium wave transmitter located in Sogunle near Lagos.
In the late 1960s, the Federal Parliament amended the NBC ordinance to allow the sale of commercial advertisements. The first ads ran on October 31, 1961, and were broadcast from Lagos. By 1962, regional and provincial broadcasters began selling ads to local businesses. The goal of allowing radio advertisements was to help provide additional funding to NBC stations beyond that received from the government.
The Federal Parliament also approved the creation of the voice of Nigeria (VON) external short wave service in 1961. Broadcasts began on January 1, 1961, from Lagos State. Its initial operations were limited to two hours a day to West Africa, but by 1963 VON had expanded both its coverage and transmission times with the addition of five more transmitters. In April 1961, with financial assistance from the Ford Foundation and technical assistance from the British Broadcasting Corporation, NBC began the National Schools Broadcasting Service. The NBC schools unit broadcast lessons in various school subjects, as well as special programs for teacher training colleges. The schools unit was based in Ibadan.
The NBC and the Broadcasting Corporation of Northern Nigeria (BCNN) were merged in 1978 to become the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN). Medium wave transmitters previously owned by the NBC were transferred to the individual state governments where the transmitters were located. At the same time, the states transferred shortwave transmitters to the FRCN.
FM BROADCASTING TODAY
FM broadcasting started in Nigeria as a tool in the hands of the British colonial masters to pursue their developmental plans and economic systems in Nigeria. It started with monitoring stations were later replaced by Radio Broadcasting services. As years rolled by, there was a call for a full-fledged and harmonized broadcasting system which would involve the use of standardized transmitters, experienced staff and efficient financial backing.
Initially, broadcast media ownership was an exclusive preserve of the Federal Government, but now states and private individuals have the right to own and manage an FM broadcast station.
Today Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria’s (FRCN) medium wave service, Radio Nigeria, has 25 stations located throughout the country, and together with Voice of Nigeria considers itself to have the largest radio network in Africa. In 2007, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria began to introduce FM transmitters in some locations and plans to begin upgrading and modernizing its short wave and medium wave transmitters in the coming years.
Also with the development of the new media technologies, like television, computers internet, mobile phones compact discs and satellites, etc, radio has metamorphosed from the conventional set to a more affordable and effective means of communication.
Radio stations are trying their best to meet up with the challenges of the globalized world as they have embraced new media technologies. This is evident in the way new media technologies are being used in their stations to ensure the generation of signal. However, it is an indisputable fact that radio has been and will continue to be one of the most effective, if not the most effective, affordable and portable means of communication.
Asemah, E. (2011) Mass Media in the Contemporary society. Jos: University Press
About the FCRN; Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Archived from the original on 2008-03-27
Baran, S. (2004) Introduction to Mass Communication, Media Literacy and Culture. USA; McGraw Hill
Nigeria Year Book1962, Daily Times of Nigeria1962, pp 151-153.
Okoro, N. (2001) Mass Communication Research: Issues and methodologies; Nsukka; AP Express Publishers.