There has recently been a project by UNESCO called, Empowering Local Radio with ICT’s (Information and Communication Technology). The purpose of this important project was to raise the inclusiveness and diversity of community radio stations throughout the world.
It included training programs for radio presenters to include ICT in their programs and how to raise the quality and the range geographically of their broadcasts. For instance, the program includes using mobile phones to carry outside interviews, and how to include minority groups and keep them interested. This all aided the power of community radio to assist their communities better.
The primary purpose of community radio is to focus on community participation, with an ultimate aim of improving and transforming the society it serves. Setting up and running a community radio station is to provide local information and to also give the community a chance to have a say what is happening to them.Good community radio can empower vulnerable members of society that are cut off geographically or say by language or religious barriers. These sort of minorities are normally kept out of the loop of mainstream media coverage. The whole objective of community radio is to create a social platform where anybody can impart information or join in debate, freely and openly.
The Importance of Radio to Developing Countries
Radio is the most important communication medium for developing countries bar none. It is also portable and does not need to be plugged into the mains electricity supply (providing it has good batteries). It can even be listened to by many people at the same time as it delivers real-time information.For developing communities and poorer countries radio is financially available to all. One radio can service a whole village with current and up-to-date information. It has been estimated that three quarters of all households in developing countries have access to a radio. Not only can radio bring real time news events, it can also act as a big brother and dispense words of wisdom and preach good governance to even the most remote of communities.
A Local Service for the Community
Community radio stations are operated by members of a community for the community that they serve and are nearly always non-profit organizations. The driving force of a community radio station is the development of its community and runs along the lines of a local social agenda.A properly run community radio station a truly great social provider in many aspects. At every opportunity these stations try to involve their community to voice their opinions and have their say in any decision-making process on matters that affect them. Radio stimulates debate like no other medium, it is instant and free for all people to interact with. In some developing countries such as Zambia, there are community radio programs on Breeze FM that members of the community can actually question local politicians and government officials on how government funding is being used locally. This is the power a community radio station can bring to its people, and in part two we explore other avenues how a radio station helps its community.