Botswana has a large land mass. As a result, in sparsely populated areas of the country, it is not possible to provide a regular supply of newspapers and other publications. Telephone service may also not exist. Radio broadcasting has become the only regular link connecting some of these areas to the rest of the country. There are now two state radio channels providing radio service to the public. These are Radio Botswana 1 (RB1) and Radio Botswana 2 (RB2)
RADIO BOTSWANA 1 (RB 1)
Formerly known as Radio Bechuanaland before the country attained its independence, RB 1 is simply called Radio Botswana by most citizens of Botswana.
When Radio Bechuanaland began to transmit in 1965, it was inheriting a one-kilowatt medium wave transmitter from the veterinary department of the out-going colonial government based at Mafeking. The transmitter had been used for communications among veterinary field staff within a 20-mile radius since World War II.
Shortly before independence, three more transmitters were acquired so that Radio Bechuanaland would be able to prepare Batswana during the run-up to independence. Since then, more and better equipment has been made available, and its operation time has increased from a mere one and half-hours to the present 18 hours a day.
Radio Botswana established a newsroom in the early 1970's and the number news bulletins were increased from one to four a day. Today, bulletins are available every hour.
The station is made up of two sections, namely Culture and Entertainment (programmes), and News and Current Affairs. The News and Current Affairs programmes such as Around-the-World-Today, Masa-a-asele/Morning Show, and Tatediso-ya-Dikgang/Newsreel. Newsreel and the Morning Show are mainly composed of local current affairs issues. Around-the-World-Today, on the other hand, features international current affairs.
The Culture and Entertainment Section of RB 1 is responsible for the general programmes and features cultural themes, music and drama. Most of the programmes are designed to educate the public, especially about government programmes, but also to entertain.
RADIO BOTSWANA 2 (RB2)
The first commercial radio channel - RB2- started operating in April 1992 as a government pilot project to find ways to offset increasing expenditure through advertising. It initially utilised a 100-watt transmitter, whose coverage extended 50 km around the capital city, Gaborone, however, the radio, dubbed "FM 103" (from its initial Gaborone reception frequency), can now be tuned to across the country.
RB 2 caters for an audience ranging in age from 15 to 45 years comprising mainly urban and suburban dwellers. The radio station features contemporary entertainment appealing especially to the younger members of society and young urban professionals.
RB 2 also carries the full Radio Botswana news bulletins at 6 a.m., 7 a.m., 1 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. every weekday. Bulletins are also available during weekends. Unlike its sister channel RB 2 broadcasts around the clock.
As a commercial channel, it generates some revenue of its own. As a result, it provides recording facilities for commercials, and accepts sponsored programming which may be done either from the studio or on location using an Outside Broadcast Van.