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PiMA Working Paper #7

Who participates? Audience and Participants in Interactive Shows 
Winnie Mitullah (Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi), Okoth Fred Mudhai (Centre of Governance and Human Rights, University of Cambridge), Sammy Mwangi (Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi)

PiMA Working Paper #7
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To develop insight into the nature and significance of audience engagement in interactive radio and television shows in Kenya, this paper examines ‘who participates’ in interactive media in Kenya drawing from a combination of household survey data collected in two constituencies, interviews with serial callers, and interviews and observations at a number of radio stations and one television station. The paper explores the extent to which media interactivity has widened and deepened political participation in Kenya, and some of the reasons why. It first examines the demographics of who calls and texts in to interactive shows, with a specific focus on the gender of participants. It then turns to a more in-depth examination of the characteristics of ‘serial callers’, individuals who regularly and frequently participate in these shows. In so doing, this working paper reveals inequalities and constraints on participation in interactive media, with those who participate tending to be young men with money and with modest level of education. Those who participate most frequently are also found to be motivated by diverse factors, including personal fulfilment as well as a desire to represent the interests of others in their communities.