THE Department of Education is set to implement a blended learning approach as face-to-face classes are still prohibited, with TV and radio-based instruction being one of the three main set-ups with modular and online learning as the other two options.

With this development, I was reminded of my Special Project, sort of a thesis, about the use of radio in information dissemination. Being in broadcast media, I pursued this topic to complete my Master of Development Communication (MDC) degree at the University of the Philippines Open University. I did the study in 2011, but some information and data I gathered may still be relevant today.

My study analyzed the role of commercial radio stations in Pampanga in creating public awareness on social issues in the province. The results will serve as a basis for development communicators in using radio as a tool. I did a cross-sectional survey in fifteen barangays in Mabalacat, Pampanga. Around 400 respondents, of voting age, were randomly selected.

The survey showed that local television was chosen by 70 percent of the respondents as their main source of public information. The radio, however, is a close second at 63.1 percent. Note that the total is not 100 percent because respondents have multiple responses. The Laus’ Group-owned CLTV 36 is the station favored by 91 percent of the respondents.

Among the local radio stations, the survey showed that DWRW 95.1 FM is the most listened to station with 65.5 percent audience share. It is closely followed by DWGV FM 99.1 at 61.3 percent. Coming in third is DWGV AM 792 at 57.4 percent. Again, the total is not 100 percent because of multiple responses. Today, there are two more local radio stations which are 105.5 FM based in Clark and Brigada News 92.7 FM in San Fernando.

The most listened to radio program is DWRW’s “Talakayan” hosted by Perry Pangan followed by “Kapampangan ku, pagmaragul ku” of DWGV AM. Third most listened to are musical programs. My environmental radio program "BUKAS Bayan" came in fourth. Not bad considering that my radio program airs only once a week for thirty minutes compared to the top two which are aired daily.

Provincial stations compete for audience share with Manila-based stations. So why do Kapampangans tune in to local stations? It’s because the hosts and DJs speak Kapampangan and they play Kapampangan songs. These are the top two reasons given by respondents. No wonder, the Kapampangan "polosa" program of DWGV AM is number two in the survey.

Even in this digital age, around 35 percent of respondents still don’t have radio sets. The government might consider donating to those who are too poor to afford it. Another 10 percent don’t listen to local radios because of weak signals. These are the issues that need to be addressed.