Tuning in to your community radio station is like calling on an old friend. It dispenses information and hosts chat shows that are particularly relevant to you personally. This is the beauty of community radio, it stretches out into the community it belongs to, and engages with them.
In part one of this blog we saw how UNESCO were operating a project called Empowering Local Radio with ICT’s. Most of the organizations benefiting from this project are small operations with weak transmitters, but what they provide to their communities is of vital importance to their communities.
Reaching Out to Africa
Even though these poor community radio stations do not have massive geographic coverage, and their transmitters only cover sporadic districts they still enable the rural communities that can get coverage in Africa to voice concerns and be informed on current information.
These local African radio stations have a unique ability to update their local communities with news whilst educating the community at the same time. And to keep the old traditions and history of the local community at the forefront of their broadcasts.
Broadcasting in Local Language
Community radio does not have to appeal to a mainstream audience, therefore it can broadcast in whatever language that it wants. Its presenters are not superstar DJ’s and so local presenters from the community can speak in regional dialects about issues the matter the most to locals.
Discussing delicate subjects such as health issues have far more prevalence if they are addressed in local dialects. Radio stations such as Loliondo FM in Tanzania, has broadcasts in the Maasi language for the local community, a community that has no other source of information delivered to them in their own language.
Many community radio stations have fund raising events that engage with the whole community it serves. These events could be something as simple as raising money for a new school football strip or something far more serious as AIDS awareness programs.
It is an opportunity for the community to come together and work as one for a common aim. An aim that is usually for the benefit of the local community. The radio station coordinates all the necessary details and ensures that the local people are united in a common cause.
Radio as a medium is a communal thing far more than TV or the internet. In any community it is common to go into public places such as hairdressers, shops, supermarkets where the tannoy system is playing a local radio broadcast.
This broadcast can spark debate among the people waiting to get their hair cut or queuing to see the dentist. And to get the benefit of the broadcast you need not have to have a seat facing the radio, you just have to be in earshot.
Radio has been with us for some time now, it has preceded other media forms of broadcasting and is still going strong. Community radio is especially strong today and remains one of the most important channels for communities to communicate and come together.