The Growing Influence of Podcasts in Kenya

Why listeners are shifting from traditional radio to podcasts
Profile picture of Dominic Kosgei

Created by Dominic Kosgei

Published on Jul 14, 2022
microphone on a black background

If someone five years ago told me there would be an alternative to radio, I would vehemently have defended the good old radio. You see, radio in Kenya and Africa at large is a very dominant medium. The traditional FM radio commands up to 80% listenership every day in Kenya. It is therefore, fair to say that audio content is largely dominated by radio shows.

However, another medium is gradually taking over; Podcasts. 

Podcasts in Kenya are increasingly invading the radio space. The other day I listened to an urban podcast called Kipawa interviewing a local celebrity, and I was astonished by the following the “small” podcast commanded. 

What we are witnessing is a shift from the traditional radio to online podcasts. Former radio hosts have ditched radio altogether and now run podcasts from the comfort of their homes. Common people have also started podcasts tackling different issues from politics, entertainment, fashion and many others. 

Podcasts gave people an opportunity to venture into a space that once required big capital investments to start it off. Today all one needs is a good internet connection and a device to record on they are set to go. 

Affordable data costs and reliable internet speed have contributed to the rising popularity of podcasts in Kenya. There are very few, if any, government regulations on podcasts unlike established mediums such as radio and television. Such “free” space has encouraged a healthy growth of the podcast industry.

I personally have found podcasts to be very convenient. I can passively listen to them as I go around my work. Some podcasts are highly topic-specific and that makes them build a loyal following from enthusiasts of a given field.  

Young people are the biggest consumers of podcasts, so it’s not surprising that podcasters are predominantly young people.  

Despite the development, podcasters in Kenya still face challenges. Podcasting is usually funded from personal savings, and the production and marketing costs are left for podcasters to bear and that can financially drain the them. Distribution of the podcasts also remains a challenge that hampers growth. The revenue streams for podcasters are not yet clearly defined, although some established ones have already worked out ways they can generate revenue. However, increasing internet access to rural areas of Africa will undoubtedly grow the podcast industry. With increased listeners, advertising revenue will organically begin to grow. 

Innovation has been key in every expansion of digital access in Kenya. I foresee innovative ways being brought up by podcasters to cope up with the challenges they face, and I’m excited for the podcast industry to continue to grow!

More for you