Building Community Radio in Hospet

BY H.R.Krishnamurthy| IN Community Media | 28/08/2002
Building Community Radio in Hospet

Building Community Radio in Hospet

By H.R.Krishnamurthy

What happens when the programming of a radio station on certain time slots is handed over to the local community

Developing viable Community Radio in Hospet, was an experiment that brought to light the problems and the opportunities associated with implementing community radio. The aim of the experiment was to re-appropriate the powers of a radio station to the local community and allow them to plan, produce and present programmes.

Setting up local radio stations

The first local radio station was commissioned in1984 at Nagercoil. But it was only during the early 90s that the local radio station movement really took off. Each local radio station had a power of 3 to 6 kilowatts and catered to a particular district within a 40 to 60 km radius.

At this point in time the government thought it fit to issue a set of guidelines for the functioning of these stations, as they would operate very differently from conventional radio stations. The guidelines were very progressive and allowed for a number of innovative experiments. Some of the important guidelines included that each local radio station should function as a mouthpiece of the community; that the roles of the broadcaster and the audience must be flexible; that the audience should be able to come to the radio station and produce and broadcast programmes; that local radio stations must not confine their activities to broadcasting but should also organise community events and activities.

AIR Hospet

AIR started Community Radio at AIR Hospet, in the Bellary district of Karnataka. Initially the station was very small with just 40 people. 12 of those recruited were absolutely new to radio. They had to be trained immediately.

The station had not been commissioned but test transmission had been started. The test transmission mainly consisted of film music. The aim of this transmission was to find out how many people were actually listening to the programme. People were asked to write down the programmes they listened to on postcards and to mention the type of radio set they used. The regional station at Dharwad had been catering to this area of Bellary until then. The announcement that Hospet had begun test transmission was made from the Dharwad station and people were asked to write to the Hospet radio station.

Taking stock
The results of this exercise were collated after three months. The small number of radio sets among the community came as a shock. The total number of FM radio sets available in the district of 16 lakhs was only 45.

There seemed to be two ways of dealing with this situation. The programming could proceed as planned without worrying about the number of radio sets. Or programming could be done on a low key and the focus shifted to increasing the number of radio sets.

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