newmediadev2009



What are community radio and community radio 2.0?
Community radio usually refers to a local radio station that is managed by people in a community. With programming by the people and for the people, communities can be better empowered with information that is most relevant to their needs. Community radio 2.0 attempts to make the radio experience more interactive and participatory. Listeners can not only listen, but they can also contribute with questions, comments and information.

Why is this important?
Community radio is perhaps the most straight-forward way of enabling a community-based information system. Radio is low cost and has been effective in spreading information and strengthening civil society. It is also more easily available in rural communities, where the vast majority of people already have radio receivers. Because the content is specifically targeted to the community's needs, it becomes more relevant and powerful. The video to your right explains the impact of community radio in the context of India, but its benefits are not exclusive to that one specific location. In fact, community radio can be found all over the world.

What community radio (and 2.0) programs are out there?
"Traditional" community radio: Community radio has been around for a while. In Africa two relevant examples are:

  • Kayes Community Radio (Mali). The impetus for this rural radio station came from Malian immigrants who decided to provide monetary support towards community development in the Kayes region of Mali. The radio is located in the same region and broadcasts in local languages. The producers are local people that have no radio experience and minimal technical qualifications. They are chosen by social groups and villagers' assemblies and they receive a practical training course. The radio encourages direct participation and deals with issues that are of primary concern to its listeners. The programming includes:
    • Historical and cultural programs that strengthen the community's cultural identity (oral history, traditional songs, dances and events)
    • Educational programs (literacy courses in local languages accompanied by parallel literacy campaigns in villages)
    • News programs (clear and simple news on subjects such as market information, transportation, health and weather)
    • Development-type programs (these broadcast information about innovations which can be reproduced in their communities such as planting techniques, reforestation programs)
  • Radio Candip (Zaire): this project relies entirely on the local population and has two key structures:
    • Radio Clubs: these are groups of people that come together to listen to the radio, discuss its programs and elaborate plans of action. They are often formed by a variety of social groups and they prepare "listener reports, audience testimony, and questions, and then send them by mail to the station." They also undertake projects dealing with hygiene, vegetable gardens, etc. and they report on the progress of their projects through their radio reports (e.g one project included cultivation of soy seeds and reported back on their results to the community radio).
    • Mini-studios: this is a "radio club which operates well and due to its central geographic position in relation to other radio clubs, is given a cassette recorder with which its members record voice pieces to sent to Bunia [the main station], enriching the participatory quality of the programs." The benefits of these mini studios is that they enable direct expression and participation by a population that is often illiterate and highly reliant on oral traditions.
  • Other examples:
    • Women in the DR Congo created Radio Bubusa with the goal of improving their knowledge around health and rights issues. To achieve this, they developed listeners' clubs, who use solar powered radios. These clubs provide a discussion forum on issues raised in the radio programs and are giving them and the surrounding communities the space to talk about taboo subjects and challenge traditional norms.


Community radio 2.0: This type of radio aims to be more interactive. Some of the latest developments in community radio 2.0 focus on the synergies between radio and mobile phones.

  • Farm Radio International: this organization produces farm-specific radio programming for African community radio stations. They work by sending scripts free of charge in English and French to different radio stations throughout the continent where they are adapted to the local situation and translated. Topics include crop production, environment management, farm and household management, food safety, nutrition, HIV/AIDS and agriculture, children on farms, farm safety, youth in rural areas, farm income, women farmers etc. Recently, they are started a project called AFRRI which is researching how new technologies (such as mobile phones and MP3 players) can increase the effectiveness of radio as "a sustainable, interactive development communication tool." The goal is to look at ways that farmers can "engage in radio programming through their mobile phones -- everything from calling into radio talk shows, being interviewed over the phone by a broadcaster, or even sending text messages to radio stations to ask questions during a live show, and receiving and sending market prices for crops."
  • Developing Radio Partners (DRP): their project called the "Ideas Network" is focused on health information. By linking radio with SMS messaging the goal is to improve the quality and quantity of health information for communities. According to the project description: "People need information about how to prevent sickness, and people who are ill need to know what to do. DRP imagines a scenario where a villager or farmer with a mobile phone can text in symptoms of their sickness and the radio station can relay this to a health worker, who replies by text or on-air. As stations gather texts on certain diseases, they will be able to pick up trends and deliver relevant health information to the public."
  • FADECO Community Radio (Tanzania): "Sometimes farmers send text messages to our office mobile number. In the past months, FRC 100.8 FM has signed a contract with a SMS management company in Dar es salaam and has been allocated 2 short code numbers. What the farmer does is to use his/ her mobile phone: Go to write new Message: Write FR.. leave one space, write a question and then send to 15551 or Write EFR .. leave one space, write question and send to 15522. The question is delivered directly to our computer via a web managed system. We are therefore able to print it off, respond directly or email the question to our experts. The farmer receives a received note on his/ her mobile phone immediately to confirm the message is received at FADECO. After the question/ request is processed, we make a radio program with the response. Unfortunately, we cannot call nor text individual farmers who send questions… we do not have the money. So when we have the answer, in a radio program, we just broadcast on radio to the benefit of the individual farmers that asked the question and of many other farmers who may be listening."

What would community radio and community radio 2.0 in the Millennium Villages look like?
Radio infrastructure is already in place in many of the villages and in sites such as Ruhiira, and plans to establish community radio are already underway. Community radio can be used in conjunction with the other tools in our toolbox to create integrated information systems. Examples include:

  • Public service announcements connected to e-governance applications
  • Interactive edutainment radio programming that could involve SMS educational contests. Contests can be announced via radio and replies can be sent via SMS. Winners can be announced after all responses are in.
  • Market price announcements to inform farmers of current agricultural prices in closest markets
  • More traditional applications to open spaces for marginalized social groups such as women and youth. Following the examples mentioned above, radio groups can organize to become active in community radio content production.



Behavior Change Comm. | Edutainment | E-governance | Health Info. Management | Mapping | Participatory Appraisal & Planning | Radio
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