Part one of our blog concentrated on how important radio is to spread news especially to rural and underdeveloped communities. Not all these areas have internet connection or TV coverage, and so the only way that important news can be given to these sorts of communities is by radio.
A topic we have not touched upon yet is the power community radio has for empowering women. In some mainstream media, female voices are not represented as much as their male counterparts. Community radio offers a great platform for women, and a forum to be heard but just as important to listened to.
The non-profit organization, Internews Network established three community radio stations in Chad in 2010. The stations were for the benefit of Sudanese refugees who had left their homeland to escape the genocide that was being carried out at the time.The radio stations broadcasted She Speaks, She Listens, which addressed the issues that these women had fled their country for. The show was a vehicle for educating the women about these issues and provided information to help them in their plight to aid them with the healing process.
It should be noted that of course community radio spreads its wings much further than this, it does not just help women and children, it is there for all citizens and it can help in dire circumstances to provide comfort and aid.
Helping the Community
In certain circumstances, community radio can literally be a lifesaver. When an earthquake and tsunami hit Indonesia in 2005, radio broadcasts from Suara Aceh spread vital information from the Indonesian government when all other forms of communication were down. This information helped to coordinate pockets of isolated communities and inform them where assistance could be found. It also brought the attention of the plight of these beleaguered people to the international community as a whole and was instrumental to bringing world-wide aid organizations to Indonesia to help out.
A similar incident happened in 2017, where almost a third of Bangladesh was under water and flooded. No less than five new community radio stations were set up to broadcast news and information how to limit the damage to homes and fields full of crops.
Sometimes trying to get your voice heard and to report facts about the world can be both a bold and hard thing to do. In many countries free speech is banned, and the only way to promote democracy is by community radio. To many Westerners it seems quite incredible that information is not freely available to all, and in a way, democracy starts with the right to be heard.
As well as Democracy, community radio has also bought entertainment into the lives of millions of people. Many community stations around the world play traditional music and provide a link back to people’s cultural heritage. Whatever the reason for community broadcasts it is without doubt the most effective way of spreading news quickly and to mass audiences. Public broadcasting matters, especially when it is created by the community for the people it serves.