Masculine arenas, marginalized women and public discourse: Gendering morning talk shows on radio in Ghana


In more than two decades, radio has proliferated in Ghana from a few tens to over three hundred and fifty stations across the nation. Radio, as the medium of mass communication, has become the major means of participating in the political and socio-cultural public discourses by majority of the populace in the country. This study investigates morning talk shows on radio in Ghana as a forum where public discourses are forged on daily basis to the extent of gendering  the discussions on public issues and institutionalizing gender narratives and roles in Ghana. Using qualitative content analysis, the study purposively selected four leading radio stations in Ghana for the study. Several hours of the morning talk shows in audio format from the four radio talk shows were recorded over a cumulative ninety-day period. The recordings were transcribed, coded and analysed to: first, investigate the dominant characters, in terms of gender, that appear on the morning talk shows; second, to investigate the major issues discussed on the morning talk shows and, as well, examine the degree of participation of men and women in the discussions; and third, to examine the implications of the issues discussed on gender discourses in Ghana. Using the masculinity and gender theories as points of analysis and interpretations, the study found that morning talk shows on radio in Ghana are highly gendered to favor men as the dominant discussants to the point of excluding women. More importantly, whether as guests, panelists or phone-in callers, men were allotted more time to participate than women. Again, issues discussed were so gendered to exclude majority of women from actively participating in the talk shows. The study concludes that morning talk shows on radio in Ghana have become arenas where masculinity and its accompanying performances and practices are introduced, forged, and disseminated in ways that co-opt the Ghanaian populace into the masculinity ideology and, especially, marginalize women’s views, perspectives, performances, and ways of acting. The study contends that journalists should be trained and oriented to use a more inclusive gender-mainstreamed approaches to engage public discourses on morning talk shows on radio in Ghana.