Relying on a strategy of community input and participation, a
community radio station in Uttar Pradesh, India is changing the lives of
villagers. The experience of City Montessori School radio illustrates
the challenges and rewards of involving listeners in community radio.
Like many other villagers in Malhaur, Anil Kumar and Ramesh Yadav
normally listen to one of the many commercial FM channels that are
broadcast from Lucknow, the largest city near them. Yet it was a
community radio station that not only discussed their nagging problem on
the air, but also raised it with the authorities and got it resolved.
This is the kind of tangible change that the City Montessori School
community radio station is bringing to villages in Uttar Pradesh.
During a phone-in program,‘Community Baat Cheet (Community
Conversation),’ Malhaur residents complained that filthy roads were
causing them a lot of problems and the authorities’ response had been
apathetic. The community radio team presented the issue to officials
from the District Rural Development Authority, inviting them to respond
on air. A few days later their village roads were cleaned up.
The City Montessori School (CMS) Community Radio Station, 90.4 MHz,
was launched by Jagdish and Bharti Gandhi in 2005. Based in Lucknow, the
Montessori school became the first educational institution in Uttar
Pradesh to have a community radio station (CRS). Since its inception,
the station has primarily broadcast educational programs with a focus on
serving the urban community of Lucknow.
Beginning two years ago, however, the CMS radio team began working in
communities around Lucknow. This outreach helps the station produce and
broadcast community-based programs alongside educational programs.
Currently, the broadcast is two-and-a-half hours long with repeat
broadcasts in the evening. Its reach is a mix of urban and rural areas.
Neelima Deepak, the station’s media coordinator, says when they got
the license there was no clarity about the kind of programming they
would produce. During a regional workshop of community radio station
managers in New Delhi, Deepak says she realized that community
participation in programs was an approach that CMS station should