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.

World College Radio Day

We were on one of our family road trips, my daughter and MrD were arguing over the two FM stations, the thought struck that television, radio, and all the sources of amusement and information surround us in our daily give us an illusion that our mind is active, for somewhere along the line we are conditioned to react to an external stimulus. But their power rather limited when it comes to keeping our mind going to an extent they are like drugs. We grow used to them and we continuously need more and more of them. after a while they have no effect, look at the number of people going to sleep with the TV on. But it kind of retards our tapping of our internal resources, and we cease to grow intrinsically… when we cease to grow we begin to die… with this wonderful intellectual epiphany I continued to reflect on the topic.

When we grew up in the 70- 80’s there were no televisions, forget internet it was all about radio. The news, songs, interviews participating in radio programs was a huge thing. somewhere I thought radio’s were relegated to the past, then came the  community radio concept.

With Lago Raho Munna Bhai, it occurred that the radio had re-invented itself, the world of RJ’s and their PJ’s I mean poor jokes, the creation of programs, think of this our local chain of supermarkets, Magsons has its own radio channel with the jockey saying, “RJ somebody or the other only Magsons FM channel” did I realize that just like in-house magazine there were in house radio channels.

I then discovered the world college radio day, college radio seems to be the happening things on US campus I am actually wondering why are the wannabe – American campus college’s in India don’t have it, more intriguing is how come it is not featured in KJo’s movies.

Anyway why college radio at all? keeping my prejudices away I decided to seriously look at the pros and cons of it all… well it creates the college community, weaves the faculty and students into a fraternity. Communication becomes clean and clear. it helps to put out information on interdisciplinary events, newer courses, announcements of various kinds, disaster awareness creation.

Somehow radio-jockeying has been limited to Journalism and media students or telecommunication students. Yet business management students and finance students would benefit from it too. Let’s look at how it could benefit the student community…

  • Radio-jockeying requires oratory skills, and creative connecting along with curetting music.
  • The listener is a kind of customer, so dealing with listeners helps to develop customer service skills.
  • Current issues and issues relating to the community are often the backdrops for the RJ’s play-list, this creates an awareness of the challenges of the community.
  • Gives problem solving skills
  • Being an RJ would mean showing up on the decided time, this develops a sense of commitment and responsibility towards time.
  • Introduces people to new music.
  • It also allows for lot of fun and goofing.
  • It is an added credence on the resume.

In 2011 the Indianapolis university started this program, and 2012 the movement went global and 600 colleges participated. Events include radio-jockeying marathon. The lone indian participants are  would you like to start your own college radio station then  check this out

At the end of the day what I realized is that everything is an energy we can use it either constructively or destructively.

world radio day-2.jpg


doveI met school friend after long-span of 5 yrs and 10kgs. She looked like she stepped out of one of those film fare magazines picturing Padmini Kolhapure or Poonam Dhillon and I was drapped in my cotton sari, suddenly I felt like a frumpy forty aunt taking her favourite niece out. But my friend squeals ”Wow shammi, how do you maintain your skin, I would kill for a skin like yours.” I smile it was like being back in time when we wondered how Padmini Kolhapure handled her pimples, we use to pour into magazines like Femina, Eve’s weekly or woman’s era. For they were delivered home. Occasionally a PicturePost, or a filmfare would be indulged in.

Growing up on a campus was different experience particularly in the 70’s movies were a rare treat, a luxurious indulgence and eating out even greater thrill.

The cuboids structure of various dimensions called the radio was our source of information and entertainment. It was shared by the family. So it was one station for all. Most of us stuck to all India radio but now and then there were some “modern” families that listed to Srilanka broadcasting corporation or vivida bharati.

Those rare movies we went to, there was the Indian news reel. Which would be a black and white documentary about the latest achievement of the Indian government.

A few advertisements of talcs, soaps, vicco vajradanti, vicks whatever. Then came the most important clipping the trailer….

A trailer would include the entry of the hero, the heroine’s entry, the villains entry, a fight sequence couple of catchy dialogues. But the most important bit of a trail for us, was the “Helen dance.” (pronounced hay-lin-dunce).

Evening in the campus meant our fathers stood at circle one and discussed the hospital politics, mothers in their circle would start off with mahila samaj and finish with the current gossip. The third group would be of us kids still in our uniform changing in the evening happened very rarely. Since we returned from school at 5pm, and we had to return from play when the lights came on that is approximately between quarter to seven and seven.

So here we were our curfew breaking would be unnoticed and we would gather round the last person who went to a movie and the story would be shared. Neither the heroine’s dance nor the hero’s prance got our fancy, we would tuck ribbons into the waistbands yodel whatever we had picked up from the radio and wriggle our butt, in a helensque way!!

How distant it seems now.

written for Dove Guessing Game with my friend