Marking the occasion of World Radio Day, we have attempted to talk about community radio in India and its contribution in giving a platform to the local communities of the country for sharing knowledge and promoting their culture.
Women, all dressed up in the colourful traditional Rajasthani attire, talking about the issues in their day-to-day lives, and a moderator, who is mostly a student of Banasthali Vidyapith, is a very common sight as you enter Rajasthan’s first community radio station, Apno Radio, or Radio Vanasthali. Located inside the University campus in Tonk, the radio station runs several programs that revolve around the problems of the local community of the place and often calls the experts who talk about resolving them. Like other community radio in India, this one too never fails to amplify the voices of the unheard.
Radio, also popular as the ‘blind medium’ of communication, has always been influential in spreading strong messages in society. However, it was only after the inception of community radio in India, back in 2004, that the local communities of the country also got a platform to aware their people regarding the issues that concerned them the most. Community radio, which is owned and operated by a particular community, is hence, seen as one of the best mediums for informing, educating, and creating awareness among the local groups regarding a wide range of topics.
Even though the first community radio station licensed to an NGO was launched on 15 October 2008, by the Deccan Development Society, in Pastapur village, Medak district, Andhra Pradesh, the students of Anna University, Chennai had already started India’s first campus community radio station on February 1, 2004, with the name, ‘Anna FM’. It was started to empower the local communities residing near Anna University for which many programmes on health care, education, female literacy, self-employment, etc. used to be held, and the shows are still in practice.
Supposedly, the best part about the community radio stations is that the local voices are heard and themselves become a source to empower their community. Following this, local music, traditions, and talks are common scenes on the radio stations, which are usually not seen on private FM channels.
Currently, there are many community radio stations in India, but some have existed for a long time, working for the development of the local people in and around the area.
Radio FTII 90.4 FM, Pune, Maharashtra
Started in 2006 in the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, Radio FTII has been a medium for voicing health-related issues among the Marathi local community. The radio is aired on FM 90.4 and is part of the campus, also being a platform for students to learn and enhance their skills.
Radio Vanasthali 90.4 MHz, Tonk Rajasthan
As mentioned above, it is the first community radio station in Rajasthan opened in 2005, and since then, the Tonk community has been engaging with the radio through live phone-in programmes. It has various community anchors and RJs, and the station conducts multiple shows focusing on women empowerment, female foeticide, eradication of child marriages, the harsh reality of rural parts of Rajasthan.
Vasundhara Vahini, 90.4 MHz, Baramati, Maharashtra
With the tagline – ‘a tool of social transformation’, this agro-based radio is a source of information and awareness about the updates on the commodity market for the nearby farmers and villagers. The programmes at this radio station focus on farming-related issues, like sustainable farming techniques, organic farming, etc.
Radio Udaan, Punjab
Founded by the radio jockey Danish Mahajan, this online community radio station was started in February 2014 to connect with visually impaired people. At that time, it was being produced and webcast by a group of 30 visually challenged individuals majorly working towards promoting inclusivity in society.
Vidyavani, 107.4 FM, Pune Maharashtra
Since 2005, Vidyavani, a community radio station set up in the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), has been broadcasting programmes on civic issues, education, health, etc. Being the first community radio station in Pune, it not only broadcasts the shows in Marathi but also in Hindi and English. As the University houses various colleges under it, the radio also caters to the students.
These stations may have been contributing towards the development of the community, they also deal with one of the major challenges – the lack of financial support. This makes them survive merely on the donation from the community and charity and hence, organizations including public entities must come to the front in a bid to protect India’s local cultures of which such stations are a great way.