Equal Access: Creating a Community Feedback Loop with Radio and Mobile Phones

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Jul 26, 2011

We spoke with Prairie Summer and Graham Gardner of Equal Access to learn more about that organization’s work integrating educational radio broadcasts with mobile-based tools such as SMS and IVR. As they explain, this combination has enabled them to better tailor their message to their their audience and has allowed for a unique form of interactive communication.

Equal Access creates communications strategies and outreach that address the most critical challenges affecting people in the developing world. Their work has focused on communications around issues such as women and girls' rights, democracy and governance, and education.  

Equal Access: Creating a Community Feedback Loop with Radio and Mobile Phones by mobileactive

Photo courtesy Equal Access.

Equal Access: Creating a Community Feedback Loop with Radio and Mobile Phones data sheet 2807 Views
Countries: Afghanistan Cambodia Chad Nepal Niger

Hi Jonathan - thanks for

Hi Jonathan - thanks for your insightful observations as always and yes, we've been using Freedom Fone. You are right about call cost being a major factor when we are not able to offer a free call number or short code but like the mobileactive interviewer who chose a 15 second theme music grab to start his audio report it's attractive to listeners/callers. Similar to the popularity of ringtone customisation. Interestingly, the option to listen to the music from the program is one of the most popular options chosen by callers. 

We've been able to offer free call options in some cases which removes that cost concern from the caller.


To date we've had limited chances to try competitions as the functionality of the system does not allow dividing audio messages by option chosen making it difficult to manage. However, this is something we will try in the future. It would be also ideal to be able to ask IVR callers to move through a nested survey as another way to testing the effectiveness of messaging but more functionality is needed to be able to do that.


Equal Access Response

Hi Jonathan,

Thanks for your questions. First, Equal Access does use Freedom Fone and we does owe them a huge thanks for the work they have put into developing the software.

The music clip that is heard at the beginning of the podcast is the theme song of our youth radio program and is not used in the IVR system (though for some time we did make the song available as a content option in the system itself). We try to keep the music or sound effects very short for the reasons you mention.

We are also working to make the lines free for all users in Cambodia, which should happen soon. Our systems are free in Niger and Nepal.

Finally, we run a number of competitions and polls over the phone. The competitions are announced on the radio programs and then listeners are asked to send answers via SMS or IVR. We use IVR to ask the "why" and "how" questions while SMS is used for voting (so audience may vote for the winner of a contest) or multiple choice responses to a quiz contest. We then publicize the results of the contest on the air. With SMS we usually talk about the quantitative results (eg. 1,000 of you voted, and 60% said XYZ...) while with IVR we can highlight the winning answers to a long-answer contest question.

IVR and Cambodia

I was wondring which IVR system Equal Access finally adopted. Was it Freedom Fone by any chance? Sounds like you have succeeded where others have not been so successful because you integrated the IVR as part of the programme format, rather than having it as a sort of physics experiment in the corner of the studio. You're right about the huge advantage of audio in countries where the phones don't handle local languages or fonts. But I don't understand why you use music clips in anything that goes over the phone. Since it is costing the caller money, this often sounds like a delaying tactic on a commercial line rather than getting straight to the point. I am curious if you have experimented with competitions on the phone, complementing something on the radio? I can imagine this is one way of checking if an idea got across as well as getting practical suggestions from a the public as to how they would solve a specific problem. 

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