The necessary correspondence between function and purpose

Function is the fundamental or essential reason of a radio show, given that radio is a mass media and therefore, it seeks to achieve something in the public it addresses. The function can be to entertain, inform, orientate, or educate.


Purpose, meanwhile, is the specific aim of a program and it is in close correspondence with its function. Both indicators are like the general and the particular. Several programs can have the same function, but the goal is very specific to each program, and it should never be the same

An illustration of how the above explained works: in a particular radio station there are four programs with the function of entertaining: a music program, a concert program, a program of Mexican music and a program of Latin American and Caribbean music. Entertainment is the common element among the four of them, but their purpose varies greatly from each other:

The purpose of the music program will be “to contribute to the entertainment of the audience tuning in Saturday afternoon,” the concert program will “focus on performers preferred by the audience,” the Mexican music program will be “addressed to the people who like Mexican music,” and the program of Latin American and Caribbean music will “help listeners identify with the music of that region of the world.” As we said before, two programs cannot have the same purpose even if they share they same function.

Likewise, words such as entertain, orientate, inform, which describe a function should never be the first word that describes the purpose of a program because it will be misleading and will confuse purpose and function.


We have put the example of several hypothetical music programs, but it also applies to informative, varied and staged programs. This is how a news magazine, a news broadcast, a briefing and a round table have in common the function of reporting but their purpose are very different.

Variety programs are also included. There could be two staged programs for example with the same function but it is essential that their purposes are different.

Also the definition of the purpose must be in correspondence with the function so, a program whose function is to entertain cannot have as purpose “to expand the knowledge of listeners” because this will be the purpose of a cultural program. The purpose of the program should be “to contribute to the entertainment of the listener,” and it could also add to expand and enrich their knowledge. A radio show can have several co-existing functions but only one must prevail.

In the above example, there are two functions: entertainment and enlightening, but the entertainment function prevails, which reflects in the way the purpose is stated, in which the recreational purpose of the program is stated before its educational purpose.


There could be countless examples but the essence of them is the same: radio programs can share their functions, but it is their purpose what makes them unique.


Translated by: Daysi Olano

Revised by ESTI

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