Community Radio

Travelling by the KSRTC Rajhansa I heard a language I had not heard in years, familiar, yet unfamiliar one got the drift of the language it was Byaari the language of the local Muslims. Which my friends Shameem and Naseem spoke. And it was being aired on the community radio.

The young twenty something kid told me, “aunty I listen to only this bandwidth” more curious about it asked him, he says they have small programs that talks of their community, the events happening there, it was like you are part of the community even you are not physically present.

“It’s better than YouTube, because I can hear when I drive, or when I work.” Actually it is true, I remember the radio from my growing days, since licenses were required to own them, and few people owned them. The Ajjarkaad, tower had a public broadcast which my father says was on since radio entered the human world. People would be seated on the rocks of Ajjarkaad, with their children playing in the sand dunes and maybe some even ambling in the park, the news and songs from vivid bharati or AIR would heard.

Dinner time began with the 8 O’clock news.  At the end of “swargiya kundanlal sehgal’s” song one began getting ready to go to school. Then of course there was fight to listen to the oral teasers of movies, sometimes ghazal programs, various debates and talk shows. I remember being part of the couple youth programs and being paid a princely sum of 105/-Rs. for it.

Somewhere the louder and more demanding sibling of the radio has taken over, the TV, it is intrusive and offensive unlike the radio which is rather more personal.

Goa had such a powerful airway that its bandwidth was available even in places like Angora, in 1961 when the Indians landed, the shut the station down for 25days and when it opened again, the station has become impotent. There are places in Goa where bandwidths are not available.

Content is another issue, with the centre controlling the airway, and programs the issues relating to the community, the language of various communities is getting lost. Like the Byaari and Nawayati communities of Konkan-Karavali, community radio’s maybe a good way of rebuilding the community.  we might actually escape the tyranny of the shrill screeching monotonous RJ’s of Radio Mirchi and 92.7 FM,

When Mr.Sajan Venniyoor made his presentation at ICG at the community radio awareness program, he shared with us the community radio’s in various states, and showed us the status of community radio in goad… it was blank.

Like I mentioned before 1961 Indians bombed Goa shut it down for 25 days, and has stayed stifled before it went right up to angora. Community radio would be a great platform to address the Goan community, revive the Goan culture, and since 2007 the government has opened airways to public. Though individuals cannot have bandwidths, NGO’s universities, colleges can all have them.

Community radio covers up to 10-15kms; it can be tweaked up to 20kms, if the towers are placed on the hilly terrain the radio waves travel much more.

Canada has a community radio called Mango Radio which addresses the Mangalore and Goan community. Kutch has mahila Vikas sangathan  radio which is for the women of Kutch, the issue that the central government came up with  was that it was close to Pakistan border, but how does it matter. After Pakistan has FM station along its border that broadcasts and the waves are received in India.

A community radio is a very personal experience, it is as if, the device is speaking to you, it can follow you where ever and give you company even as you work. It is like sitting in your living room and debating on issues that are relevant to your small community.

If I were to tweak the slogan of democracy a bit… community radio is of the community, for the community by the community. The management of this can be done either by a group of people, or an individual or it can be done to colleges and universities,

Community radio’s being smaller and locally organized it allows, inclusion and participation. It also creates a sense of ownership and belonging. It allows use of technology economically appropriate to the community rendering external controls out of the play.

When someone’s buffalo went missing people asked the local radio man “raga” to help it is so within the community it empowers the community to do its own problem solving. The community radio basically runs on content, access, community participation, self management are all part of it.

The initial layout cost is  a bit steep, for a good one, however the government does support a bit initially, the biggest disadvantage is the minute the bandwidth is allotted to an outfit its billing begins, and there is no exit policy,

community radio
recorder for radio transmission

Some interesting community radio heroes, the Deccan Development society in pastapur, is a women run station as is the Kutch Mahila vikas sangatan project at Bhuj. Bundelkhand has its station run in the local language as Bundelkand is split between two states and it does not belong to either state. The gurgoan community radio is sliced away the elite migrant dwellers, to address and connect to the original Haryanvi populations.

The story of Radio Raghav from bihar is quite interesting. Like the bootooth radio of madhyapradesh where the songs are shared through Bluetooth and broadcasted over speakers.

It might be an interesting option in community building and connecting.

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