Empowerment Radio

EMPOWERMENT RADIO – Voices building a community’ sets out to demonstrate why community radio during the past decade has repeatedly been recommended as a powerful catalyst for development – ‘the missing link’ between development support being provided and change actually taking place. This book has been written with a desire to share powerful insights and experiences that can help get a genuine community radio off the ground – and keep it on air. It offers a step-by-step presentation of the central conceptual and practical aspects that are essential for creating EMPOWERMENT RADIO: A sustainable, community-run, well managed, simple and effective platform for the community’s voices, with space for debate on issues of importance that range from urgent ad hoc problems, over continued debate on community development, and onward toward a celebration of the local culture. “EMPOWERMENT RADIO” – now available as a free e-reader here! “EMPOWERMENT RADIO” – order the paperback here!

On the occasion of the launch of her book ”EMPOWERMENT RADIO”, Birgitte Jallov here shares her answers to the Panos London questions.



A. Sofie Jannusch

Birgitte Jallov’s Empowerment Radio. Voices Building a Community reveals a practitioner’s vast experience, thoroughly rooted in theoretical reflection and fed by the energizing enthusiasm of an aficionado. Respecting variety without corrupting principal concepts, Birgitte Jallov focuses on core processes to reach the specific and most adequate realization of a station in every community. Based on her rich hands-on-experience, she provides examples illustrating processes of preparation, establishment, and building of long-term sustainability and empowerment, as well as the provision of an enabling environment. For those who wish to learn more about the different aspects illustrated in the book, and seek broader support in the understanding and development of community radios, Birgitte Jallov offers a follow up with the seven-week online course How to turn voices into community change. Details about the webinar and links to order the book can be found under: http://empowerhouse.dk/training/.

A. Sofie Jannusch Communication for Development Specialist CAMECO


Raghu Mainali


If you want to read only one book on sustainability of community radio, this is the one to read, and as a community radio practitioner in Nepal I have recommended it to my colleagues all over the Asia region: you really need to read and use this remarkable book.

Everywhere from past to present the same question is always left unanswered: how to sustain community radio. Birgitte Jallov in her latest publication Empowerment Radio: Voices Building A Community comes up with an answer to this greatest challenge. Based upon evidence collected from around and experience over two decades this book offers community radio practitioners a practical guidance on how to keep alive, being a real community radio. If you want to increase your ability and want to read only one book on sustainability of community radio, this is the one to read and as a community radio practitioner in Nepal I have recommended it to my colleagues all over the Asia region: you need to read and use this remarkable book. I also wish to suggest becoming innovative when applying this because sustainability itself has not changed, but the context in which community radio operates has shifted intensely.

The author Birgitte Jallov draws the blueprints in Empowerment Radio for community radios where people exercise their rights and enlarge their efforts to create an outcome they truly desire, where down to earth patterns of thinking and development are nurtured, where collective aspiration is welcomed and practiced, and where community members are constantly learning how to work together for better purpose. Empowerment Radio blends these qualities into a logical body of principle and practice making real community radio. The principles regarding community radio and its sustainability presented in this book are most powerful and exemplary insights and tips are equally clear and practical.

Raghu Mainali Coordinator, Community Radio Support Centre, Nepal Forum of Environmental. Journalists Author of numerous books on Community Radio Recipient of the IPDC UNESCO prize for Rural Communication (2012)


Martha Leslie Allen


“In Empowerment Radio, Jallov not only shows the benefits and potential of community radio, she describes how to develop and sustain community radio, and examples are given of how communities are changed as a result of having a community radio station.

The book is very readable and interesting. It is a valuable contribution to media democracy efforts and radio specifically.”

Empowerment Radio, Voices Building a Community by Birgitte Jallov (Empowerhouse, Denmark, 2012) Radio is one of the most crucial empowerment media because radio reaches so many people – including rural and poor communities. Community radio allows people to speak for themselves and effect change, not just experience a one-way communication. As Birgitte Jallov writes, “Throughout my adult life, working with community radio and communication for development, I have seen that giving people a voice, and an opportunity to speak for themselves, is what – better than anything else – leads to the empowerment required to trigger an avalanche of positive personal and community change.” (p. 5) In Empowerment Radio, Jallov not only shows the benefits and potential of community radio, she describes how to develop and sustain that community radio. Examples are given of how communities are changed as a result of having a community radio station. Human rights issues get dealt with – and women’s rights are human rights! Jallov shares insights that can help get a community radio off the ground and keep it on the air. She includes a brief history of community radio. The book even includes a chapter on technical aspects. Yet the layout and organization of all the information she shares is provided in such a way that the book is very readable and interesting. It is a valuable contribution to media democracy efforts and radio specifically. Community radio empowers individuals and their communities and brings us closer to a world where people can speak for themselves. Birgitte Jallov’s book is a handbook that both provides crucial information for what we need to know now, as well as records for history through the stories and specifics of the importance of community radio. At the same time it is an inspiring story of how people can utilize media to change their lives and the world around them. (The full review: http://www.wifp.org/AssociateBooks.html)

Martha L. Allen Director, Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press Washington DC

Get full review here (pdf)


Patrick Prendergast


“In ‘Empowerment Radio’ Jallov demonstrates a deep appreciation of Community Radio challenges, offering tremendous help to a first timer or a well seasoned CR collective or individual.This text an extremely critical supplement to transforming community voices into sustainable empowerment radio.

 Empowerment radio – Voices building a community is a 2012 title from Birgitte Jallov – longstanding authority in the field of community radio and communication for development. This text simultaneously charts the making of community radio (CR) while outlining a framework for better understanding the dynamics involved in taking CR from idea to airwaves. Traditionally, community radio is tagged the voice of the community; but what this text offers is an opportunity to go beyond the tag and acknowledge the developmental potential of CR providing a genuine people-based platform from which a community can truly experience sustainable development.  Development activities that do not prioritize sustainability in all its dimensions – human, social, financial, environmental, or institutional – are already flawed. Community radio as a development tool must therefore emphasize sustainability; and this is an emphasis which Jallov underscores by taking on the issue at all levels throughout the entire volume even while having special sections dedicated to the issue itself…Her rich experience, and by extension her authority across the African and Asian regions go a far way in making the content of Empowerment radio credible, accessible and understandable.  Empowerment Radio is arranged into five parts addressing broad themes of sustainability; community organization and ownership; establishment; how to build long term sustainability for empowerment; and understanding the enabling environment. Each section speaks to critical linkages across the entire community radio product and provides a sort of template from which to build a better understanding and appreciation of the history, context, process and practice of community radio. Critical elements in measuring impact both as a communication channel and a tool for community development are also identified. Interestingly, the longest section is on the establishment of the radio as a community system. This is a difficult process for any community to deal with primarily because it is when the real hands-on issues come to fore and the realities of being on air and what it takes to remain on air are driven home. In making this an expanded section, Jallov not only demonstrates a deep appreciation of these challenges and offers workable experiences, examples, and cases that can be of tremendous help to a first timer or a well seasoned CR collective or individual. Recent experience in the English-speaking Caribbean tells me that many of the radio stations would find tremendous value in this work at especially two levels: one is the affirmation that they are not alone in facing these challenging realities; and two, is finding potential answers from voices that though coming from diverse places and history share a similarity of spirit and purpose – to mobilize for social change and improved lives. The latter is tremendously significant to the community development and empowerment process. As Jallov states in the Foreword, “the intention is to help all participants interested in supporting community radios for empowerment to get it right. Its desire is to facilitate learning from the experience of others, to enable inspiration by example”. There is no reason why both intention and desire should not become reality given the practical way in which the book has demonstrated what it takes to make community radio a meaningful tool for development and empowerment. Empowerment radio – Voices building a community is a highly recommended resource for a wide cross section of community development stakeholders involved in project design and implementation to monitoring and evaluation; assessing impact to deciding social and human development policy direction; and importantly, for those laying the foundation – including university lecturers – for building relationships that enable and facilitate sustainable community ownership of its critical resources. These resources surely must include the information communication technologies that best allow for the voices of the community to be a springboard for improving the lives and well-being of all the peoples of the community. Community radio is one such resource and this text an extremely critical supplement to transforming community voices into sustainable empowerment radio.

Patrick Prendergast Lecturer in development communication The University of the West Indies, Mona

Get full review here (pdf)


Linje Manyozo


EMPOWERMENT RADIO – An important book for ComDev practitioners and students!

This book is the first of its kind that deals with designing and implementing radio for development in practice – and it offers students and practitioners alike a frontline view of how messy development practice is. It contains a lot of insights by someone “who was actually there”, so it is a very, very rich resource; its insights are empirical, and thus it does a wonderful job of deconstructing so many myths that we academics propagate in comdev. My radio book [“People’s Radio: Communicating change across Africa”, Southbound, June 2012]  was actually a sequel to yours – it is largely theoretical, and in many ways, complements your wonderful take on radio and development! I am sure whoever will teach comdev practice on and about Africa and elsewhere will find your book an important tool for exposing students to the realities of development practice.

Linje Manyozo, PhD Social and Behaviour Change Interventions National Aids Commission Malawi


Cees J. Hamelink


Birgitte Jallov: Empowerment Radio. Voices Building A Community

Empowerment Radio  is a “must read” for all those who are interested in genuine human development processes in which people liberate themselves from being “enveloped” in strategies through which others determine their destinies… This book is important because it documents the crucial importance of community radio in processes of people’s development as empowerment.

  This book is important because it documents the crucial importance of community radio in processes of people’s development as empowerment, or as I would prefer to call it self-empowerment. The book provides volumes of useful information about community radio and is an excellent guide for understanding how social communication is crucial to human survival. In evolutionary terms “social communication for human survival” requires diversity, cooperation, mobility and trust. These are all features that the “big media” do not offer. Particularly against the lies and the mind management of currently dominant communication institutions, social trust is critical. Many years ago I had the privilege of working with the Brazilian pedagoguePaolo Freire –who taught me the importance of trusting people. This is what community radio can do: building communal trust and thus helping people to develop strategies for humane living.  The self-empowerment that is needed for personal and communal change depends upon giving people their own voice. This is what community radio does and Birgitte Jallovthrough a wealth of experience and concrete examples- helps us to see this. Empowerment Radio  is“must read” for all those who are interested in genuine human development processes in which people liberate themselves from being “enveloped” in strategies through which others determine their destinies.

Cees J. Hamelink Professor emeritus Global Communication Studies at the University of Amsterdam, Honorary president of the IAMCR, Initiator of the People’s Communication Charter, Recipiënt of the University of Queensland Award for Social Communication and The ICA Award for Communication as Change Agent.


Camilla Simonsen

Birgitte Jallov has a lifetime of experience working with community radios in many parts of the world, and the rich examples from the chapters of her book “EMPOWERMENT RADIO – Voices building a community” made her online training course on “How to turn voices into community change” a very valuable introduction to the real, practical world of community radio. Together with the chapters from her book, her inspired audio lectures and additional cases shared in the modules made ‘community radio’ live to me, with a clear development and empowerment perspective. As a master student I have studied Journalism and International Development for three years and international social science for two years, and I feel quite well equipped theoretically. But his 7-week training course gave me a very different perspective at the theories, and things that I believed through my books and discussions at the university, I now understand in a very different way.

Camilla Simonsen Master Student, Journalism and International Development Roskilde University Centre, Denmark

Get the full review here (pdf)


Peter Day


Birgitte Jallov: Empowerment Radio. Voices Building A Community

In Empowerment Radio, Birgitte Jallov has written one of the most seminal texts for community radio practitioners, academics and policy makers alike.

In a remarkably accessible and coherent text she combines a ‘how to manual’ with a clear understanding of collaborating and working with communities as equal partners to empower community voices and build community capacity through radio. I recommend this book to everyone interested in building sustainable community radio and am definitely using it in the Community Media 4 Kenya partnership work.  

Peter Day Professor emeritus Global Communication Studies at the University of Amsterdam, Senior lecturer at University of Brighton


Dr June Lennie

This excellent and highly useful book is the culmination of over twenty years work in the area of community radio and communication for development (C4D) in various countries around the world. Through her extensive experience in planning, developing and evaluating C4D initiatives, Birgitte Jallov has learned many lessons about how community radio can become more successful and sustainable, which she has drawn on to write this valuable book. Jallov’s key argument is that the effectiveness and sustainability of community radio requires a clear community development vision, active community involvement, community ownership and empowerment, bottom-up processes, and a holistic, partnership approach. While such processes take time and effort to do effectively, the end result is considered to be well worth it, in terms of sustainability and community empowerment. Jallov’s model of sustainability suggests that this requires a systems approach that takes the ‘enabling environment’ into account, as well as effective capacity development and the social, organisational and financial sustainability of the radio station. This book also lends additional weight to arguments about the importance of two-way communication, dialogue, learning-based capacity development and ongoing participatory research and evaluation to generating sustainable social change through C4D… [and] Jallov acknowledges the many challenges and issues that emerge in planning and establishing community radio in the complex development context… I particularly appreciated Jallov’s emphasis on considering all of the diverse ‘communities within the community’ that ideally need to be involved in the research, planning, development and evaluation process. Jallov highlights the key role of women in community radio and the empowering effects of successful community radio on women’s lives. Based on her extensive work in this field, Jallov observes that ‘when the community radio moves in women are beaten up less; their children are exposed to less violence and other abuse’. These are powerful effects that need to be better appreciated by those who fund and support community radio and C4D initiatives.

Dr June Lennie Senior Research Associate RMIT University, Australia

Get the full review here (pdf)


Dfid shares an insightful review-cum-discussion (here) of Linje Manyozo’s 2012 *People’s Radio* & Birgitte Jallov’s 2011/2012 *Empowerment Radio*, while linking it to Panos London programme areas.





Endorsements received of the book project, presented on the basis of annotated index, the book flyer and previous work experience with and use of the work by the author:
Empowerment radio: Voices building a community by Birgitte Jallov. I have known Birgitte Jallov as a prime mover in community radio since the early 1980s when European activists in the field began to join forces. She was a significant voice in AMARC from its beginning and after her work for UNESCO in Mozambique I invited her to speak on sustainable radio in development where her lecture made a deep impression. Her book is important and timely and there is no one better qualified to write it.  Dr. Peter M. Lewis is a Senior Lecturer in Community Media, London Metropolitan University
Empowerment radio: Voices building a community by Birgitte Jallov People involved in community communication – and especially radio – will find in this extremely long-overdue text an exceptionally valuable resource for practical direction as well as critical reflection.  Over the years Jallov’s many articles brilliantly examining the work she has done and continues to do all over the world have been constant companion for me both as a researcher, teacher, and practitioner.  Jallov can be depended on to bring a uniquely insightful perspective to the discourse but always mindful of the empowering function of communication. This should become recommended reading for those already in the field either setting up new outfits or doing evaluation of established systems as well students of alternative media and community radio in particular. Patrick Prendergast is Lecturer in development communication at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication, The University of the West Indies, Mona campus in Kingston, Jamaica.  He teaches alternative media and works across the Caribbean with community radio volunteers.
Empowerment radio: Voices building a community by Birgitte Jallov. Birgitte Jallov lead a broad and ambitious UNESCO media development project in Mozambique from 1998-2004. I followed her work on behalf of Sida in Maputo, one of the major donors to the project. I was impressed by Birgitte’s firm and enthusiastic leadership and above all her serious involvement and result awareness. Her particular enthusiasm was with the community radios, where direct impact could be seen on the increased awareness and participation in matters of general interest for the communities. Birgitte Jallov is one of the few in the world who has such a long, broad and successful experience of organising community radios. I would be happy to see that her experiences and advice are shared with all development aid organisations, international, national and NGOs. Eva Belfrage is retired Senior Advisor for Swedish International Development Cooperation Authority (Sida).
‘Empowerment Radio’ is a much needed aid for community radios – especially those in the most isolated areas who find it hard to access direct advice and assistance. This will provide the necessary guidance across all aspects of local radio communications for development including broadcasting, funding and community involvement strategies. Birgitte Jallov brings decades of hands on experience and insight to this work and her contribution is going to be widely welcomed by radio stations, NGOs and community development workers alike. We are looking forward to getting this book to our partners in Madagascar! Yvonne Orengo is the Director of Andrew Lees Trust
We recruited Birgitte, when we needed a thorough review of our community radio project, hopefully identifying some strong change stories. Birgitte had worked with the project before and knew the particular environment well; when she was selected to do the review we knew the work was in safe hands. Birgitte’s best asset is her tremendous energy – it infused the project for months afterwards, inspiring everyone involved to bring new people into the community radio and try to spread its benefits to others. While being positive and encouraging, Birgitte also kept a critical eye open during her interactions with our project. She identified some administrative issues which were, in hindsight, impeding the project’s progress. With her recommendations and suggested solutions we were able to bring things back on track quickly and efficiently. Birgitte brings a number of special and unique qualities with her as an adviser: Her energy and enthusiasmvery empowering to all who work with her, not least because it is backed with years of valuable technical and organisational experience. I would warmly recommend Birgitte’s services, advice and support to community radio stations that are looking for inspiration, ideas from other radios elsewhere in the world, and for donors who wish to learn more about the changes that are happening at the ground level of these fascinating transformational projects.

Sarah Ransom Programme Analyst UNDP Lao PDR

“ I recruited Birgitte Jallov as I knew of her good work. Birgitte’s reputation precedes her! And I wanted someone with a lot of community communication experience. Given Birgitte’s communication for development work, through community radio it was easy to consider recruiting her! Birgitte’s involvement in UNECA’s tele-innovation centre project has led to awareness on community communications by policy-makers. For instance, since the training she conducted with the community Information centres in Ghana, they have asked for more training andspecifically requested that they want Birgitte to come back! Birgitte’s commitment to a cause and working for impact is what makes her stand out in the crowd. I was conscious of this in Rwanda where you would prefer avoiding the ‘politics’ of government to working with people, using communication to empower them! Which is a great strength to have! Furthermore there are three qualities that personify Birgitte: Passion, commitment, and dedication. I would warmly recommend Birgitte as an adviser, coach and facilitator to other UN agencies wanting to work at the grassroot level, particularly pursuing a communication for development agenda and also those working on women and gender issues.”  

Aida Opoku-Mensah Director, Science and ICT,  UNECA, Addis Abeba

Other testimonials