This study: “Audience Reception of Socio Cultural, Political, and Economic Integration: Radio Dimtsi Hafash in Post-Independence Eritrea” looked at the audience reception on nation building messages of Radio Dimtsi Hafash and the level of acceptance, resistance, and neutrality with regard to the nation building messages of the radio broadcasts.

The study is anchored on communication theories namely, Stuart Hall’s Cultural Studies Theory, Maletzke’s Model of Mass Communication, and Reception Theory (audience uses and gratifications theory). The focus of the study is the reception of economic, political, and socio-cultural integration messages of Radio Dimtsi Hafash. Stuart Hall’s concepts of decoding of messages: dominant, negotiated, and oppositional are used. They are measured using frequency of acceptance, neutrality, and resistance.

The research used Mixed Methods Research with philosophical assumptions that guided the direction of the mixture of qualitative and quantitative approaches in the research process.

Data were collected using Survey, Interview, and Content Analysis. Survey data were collected from 210 respondents sampled using simple random sampling. The respondents were from among students of the University of Asmara, professionals, and business entrepreneurs. In addition, interviews were conducted with 30 respondents from the youth/students, faculty of the University of Asmara, business entrepreneurs, professionals, elders, and media practitioners who were selected using purposive sampling. Content Analysis was used to categorize program stories/scripts into socio-cultural, political, and economic integration messages. The study also used textual analysis of 12 radio texts selected using simple random sampling from among that were categorized through Content Analysis. Data generated through the instruments included, the audience frequency of listening, audience reception (acceptance, resistance, neutrality) reasons for their reception and the alternative messages they recommended.

Findings from the survey showed that the socio-cultural messages had the highest frequency of being listened to among the three groups, while economic integration messages were second, followed by political integration messages. The content analysis revealed that the highest number of messages broadcast by the radio were economic integration messages (60 texts), followed by socio-cultural (45 texts), and political integration messages (25 texts). The textually analyzed stories showed that the texts, by design and substance established the radio as sole teacher and authority, therefore the dominant, while the audience is taken care as passive entity. Thus, they established the radio which is the government organ had the hegemonic power.

The interviews expressed more appreciation with socio-cultural integration messages. They also recommended reviews of program content and angles of narration in the dissemination of the socio-cultural integration messages. They were critical of economic integration messages as shallow. They recommended for more informative and higher level of coverage such as national economic policy, and national budget. They were also as critical on political integration messages for carrying government point of view only.

The survey findings showed that the audience level of acceptance was in favor of socio-cultural integration messages among the three surveyed groups. The second and third were economic, and political integration messages respectively. Those interviewed did not differ much from those surveyed. The data from the survey and interview shared high appreciation of socio-cultural messages and low appreciation of the political integration messages.

The study has the implication that Radio Dimtsi Hafash should examine its current approach to its programs in general and its national integration messages in particular. It is essential for the radio to find out the sentiments of its audience on the radio national integration messages.

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