A country as diverse as ours is bound to have different local radio stations to cater to different tastes and preferences.
For instance, there are urban radio stations, which are modern and hip with cool names.
Their presenters speak eloquently in English they couldn’t have learnt in the Kenyan public education system and because they have accents, they say “Narrowbi” despite them being Kenyan citizens and residents of Nairobi for years now.
You can correctly guess how an urban radio presenter looks by how they talk. You don’t have to see their Instagram page to confirm that their looks are as pleasant as their voice, and that all those lusty, red-blooded followers, including you, are not following them for their radio content.
Their advertisements feature upcoming festivals and concerts, sales and art exhibitions, flight companies and holiday packages, and are broadcast in voices that enunciate Swahili words with a ‘tweng’.
Then we have the popular radio stations that reach beyond Nairobi and other major cities but one has to play around with the antennae from time to time to get a clear reception.
Since these popular stations have overcrowded the airwaves, their competitiveness often lacks creativity and imagination.
Just like our local TV stations, they copy each other. They all have similar segments, similar topics of argument, they interview the same guest speakers, and they play the same songs over and over again in a predictable and familiar rotation until you start hating the songs and the station.
But where they lack in musical entertainment they make up for in their broad array of radio services.
They have programs for repairing broken relationships for those who are too lazy to do it themselves, and they have segments for helping lonely singles find true love. They will even go as far as to disguise themselves and catch a cheating or lying spouse for you, in a tense, dramatic on-air telephone conversation unbeknown to your deceptive lover.
The presenters of these popular radio stations are loud and talk a lot.
They love discussing ‘controversial’ issues in their mundane breakfast and mid-morning shows and will have their listeners debating over the appropriate length of a house help’s skirt on a Monday morning.
What I, however, find interesting is how they, like witchdoctors, seem to have solutions for virtually all problems that their listeners have.
You have a problem with a local politician, dial your favourite presenter. A relationship or marriage issues? Those folks will fix it. Same with financial challenges, erectile dysfunction or petty theft.
These presenters get trolled online for one reason or another from time to time and are occasionally slandered in scandalous articles published in gutter blogs.
Their advertisements mainly consist of condom and family planning adverts, alcohol brands, mobile loans, betting companies and data bundles.
The suburban and country radio stations, some of which are vernacular and others Swahili, are popular with listeners in the outskirts of big cities and rural areas. They can be heard even in remote places and faithful listeners in the village can tune into these stations from their small portable radios while cultivating their farms or herding livestock.
In suburban radio stations the news bulletins are long as are the song.
They mostly play songs by our African composers, which have a reputation for being lengthy as our musicians often include monologues in their songs and prolonged instrumental performances to show off their skills.
Their presenters are fond of talking over the music. Just when Franco is about to sing about Mario, the host will turn down the volume and start talking about something while the song plays faintly in the background. They will release the volume and let Franco sing two words before they shush him up again to finish their train of thought.
They will then let the song continue playing and when you’re about to belt out the chorus, they’ll turn down the volume again to say something else.
When they finally shut up the song is well into the last verse. Yet, these selfish radio hosts still won’t let you enjoy the last bits of the song.
They will start singing along with the musician, and louder than them, as if to spite you.
These country radio stations are convenient for football lovers. They stream live matches for their fans with talented commentators in the studio who will make you feel like you’re sitting in the front row at Old Trafford.
The advertisements here include ads for car batteries, iron sheets, farm produce and saccos.