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 Tuesday, April 12, 2011
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 immediately adopt.

(Source: AudienceScapes)

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