- There is no national public service broadcaster, though a number of stations strive to fill this void. Top radio stations with high listenership among radio listeners throughout the country are United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Radio, Star Radio and the Catholic run Radio Veritas.
- Radio Veritas and Eternal Love Winning Africa (ELWA) are the only radio stations that operate both on FM and Short Wave
- UNMIL, Star Radio and Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) do some broadcasting via the internet.
- Many stations cooperate with international actors and broadcast programs such as those produced by Talking Drums Studios, UN agencies, BBC, Voice of America and others.
- Since Monrovia- the capital of the country in Monteserrado County has the one of the largest population of radio listeners, many of the FM stations broadcasting from Monrovia feature in the nation-wide top stations shown below.
About the Top Stations
There are 15 counties in Liberia. For the regional breakdown of top radio stations shown above, we have divided these 15 counties geographically into 3 regions- central, south and north; and then explore the differences between them.
Counties Division – Central – Bong, Grand Bassa, Monteserrado, Margibi, Nimba, River Cess.
North – Bomi, Gbarpolu, Grand Cape Mount, Lofa.
South – Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, Maryland, Sinoe, River Gee.
Regional Private/Community Radio Stations
In addition to the radio stations mentioned above, there are close to 50 registered radio stations including community radios currently broadcasting, representing almost four times the pre-war figures. These stations may not have a national reach, but have high listenership in the regions they are located in.
For development practitioners who are targetting specific regions or counties- these stations may be as important as the ones which are more popular throughout the country.
In particular, the community based radios are growing professionally and can provide a good platform for information delivery and feedback to people living in rural Liberia. At present, there are about 47 community stations outside of Monrovia, although, of these less than 35 are active. These stations have mostly been supported by Mercy Corps with USAID funding. Signal strength limits the majority of these stations to approximately five miles and although many of the stations were designed to be self-sufficient (including solar electrical power, digital equipment and computers for editing and broadcasting) sustained external support for their operations is uncertain.
The table below provides basic information about some of these private/community stations, the cities/towns from which they broadcast and the listenership in the counties among radio listeners there.
The majority of private stations are owned by individuals or companies and are mainly funded through announcements and advertising. In this regard, it seems that much of the commercial and private radio sector depends heavily on outside donors to complement revenue generation. Equipment is often basic, although those supported by external donors have better facilities, including digital equipment. Most of these stations only broadcast within greater Monrovia (see table above).
See the table below for some stations broadcasting outside Monrovia and their listenership within their respective counties.
All data for media outlets was sourced from the sources listed below; unless otherwise mentioned
Review of Media Support in the Post-Conflict Transitional Period and Recommendations for Future Actions: Strengthening Liberia’s Media - International Media Support ; Partnership for Media and Conflict Prevention in West Africa.
Available here http://www.i-m-s.dk/files/publications/Liberia_webfinal%201202-2007.pdf
Media Reach and Penetration Study - Liberia Media Center; Drafte by Lawrence Randall, Lamii Kpargoi & Cosme Pulano
Available here: http://liberiamediacenter.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/media-reach-penetration-study-lmc-zeon.pdf
IREX Media Sustainablility Index (Africa)- Liberia http://www.irex.org/programs/MSI_Africa/2008/liberia.asp
Liberia Broadcasting System- About http://www.liberiabroadcastingsystem.com/about.php
BBC Country Profile- Liberia http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/country_profiles/1043500.stm#media