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Community radio is 'our radio'

Feb 19, 2012

Community engagement is vital for meaningful radio programmes and they should be able to connect with them, feel participants at the 2nd CR Sammelan in New Delhi.

New Delhi: Community radio in India is at a nascent stage and its evolution depends on quality content and active community participation. This was the unanimous voice of panelists at a session on the second day of the 2nd National Community Radio Sammelan. The meet,  being organised in New Delhi by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Govt of India,  from February 18-20, 2012, witnesses 111 operational CR stations  from different parts of India assembling on a single platform to share their problems and find solutions.

Unity in diversity

Operating from Bengaluru, Radio Active is determined to give a voice to the less privileged and marginalised in the society. The social radio station has has a host of jockeys from diverse communities, who broadcast their views, problems and also solutions. Some of them are RJ Priyanka from the LGBT community, RJ Shivkumar who is an auto-rickshaw driver and a part-time RJ, RJ Jayadev, who is from the disabled community and many more. The radio broadcasts in multiple languages to cater to migrants. 

Speaking about the content crisis in community radio, Pinky Chandran from Radio Active said that capacity building of the communities - making them aware of their rights and about the importance of community radio – is the best way to help local communities generate content for themselves. She discussed some of the content strategies with the rest of the participants. Emphasising on the listernership quotient of the programmes, Pinky said, “The programmes should be informative but should not be preachy. They should be made creative to be able to strike a chord with the local communities.”

Young leadership

In India’s eastern state of Uttar Pradesh, Lalit Lok Vani (LLV) Community Radio broadcasts programmes for women, farmers and Sahariya tribals residing in over 120 villages. The content is based broadly on village development, livelihoods, backward communities, child rights, health and women empowerment.

Young Rajendra Ansari from LLV, cheerfully mentions his key strategies for bringing in content - through a network of reporters in each of the 120 villages, who, gathered information on the ground and then convert it into a radio programme. 

The CR station also experiments in innovative ways of revenue and content generation by placing canopies in public places during festivities and offering the villagers to send personalised voice messages to the community members. They charge rupees 25 for the exercise.

When disaster strikes

Kalanjiam Vanoli Community Radio operates form Nagapattam district in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu. It is supported by the DHAN Foundation which started its coastal area programme after the Tsunami struck the coasts in December 2004.  In this process, Radio Kalanjiam was set up in 2009. The community radio is owned and operated by women Self Help Groups (SHGs) and broadcasts programmes for the fishermen, farmers, youth and children. 

“Community radio could strengthen SHG movement in India by giving them a platform to voice their concerns and look for solutions,” said P. Premanand of Kalanjiam Radio.

It also plays a key role in disaster management by sending out early warning signals to fisherman.

Community radios could broadcast relevant and meaningful programmes through active engagement of the community. Summing up the session, Rajendra from LLV said, “A community radio is successful only if the locals are able to identify, “It is my radio.””.

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