Impact of Community Radio on Society: A Case Study of ‘Neladani’, a Community Radio Station

Narasimhan G*
Dr. H.K. Mariswamy**

Introduction

The pivotal role played by media in the dynamics of social change cannot be brushed aside. Society is a dynamic institution where many catalysts work towards its development and change within the existing frame. The media too is a catalyst that shapes the society in a positive manner to attain the presumed objectives of development. To achieve this it requires appropriate and sustainable communication strategies which will accelerate change in any given society.

Basically, radio is a significant and influential audio media which plays a vital role in transforming a society. Radio is also considered as one of the most personal and powerful mediums to inform and to motivate the masses. The best case is to refer the War on Worlds, the Halloween-eve show of “Mercury Theatre on Air”, headed by the resourceful dramatist Orson Welles, on October 30, 1938. However, the emergence of television rendered the radio as an out-dated mode of communication tool, failing to understand its significance. The revival of the FM radio has made us realise its core strength.

After radio was introduced in India in 1921, it passed through some rough terrain and survived. But it served only the affluent of the Indian society. After Independence, radio functioned under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting as the sole mouthpiece of the government. The tight clutch of the government made it a dumb player. The space it left unoccupied was utilized by Radio Ceylon and then the government woke up with revival strategies. It happened after the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court in 1995,in the Bengal Cricket Association v/s Government of India case, which proclaimed that the “airways are free and to be treated as public property for the benefit of the country’s growth and development.” As a result, in the year 2000 the government of India allowed private conglomerates and NGOs to own and run radio stations for the benefit of the society.

Community Radio

Community radio is an initiative that caters to the infotainment services of the local community. It revolves around the community and serves to bring small groups together through their own participation, reflecting their day to day concerns. Here the community will participate in creating contents and programmes according to their requirements. People are the major characters of the community radio.

Following are the major characteristics of community radio:

  1. It serves a recognisable community.
  2. It encourages participatory communication.
  3. It offers opportunity to the community to initiate communication in programme creation and management.
  4. It uses technology appropriate to the economic capability of the people not leading to the dependence on the external sources.
  5. Community radio is a non-profit oriented concern, like a public service broadcaster. Both information and entertainment issues are concentrated in programme genres.
  6. It uses frequency modulation technology to broadcast the small coverage area

Review of literature

  1. Other Voices; The struggle for Community Radio in India by Vinod Pavarala and Kanchan Malik, Sage Publications, New- Delhi.
  2. Community Radio Handbook, UNESCO 2011.
  3. Understanding Community Media by Kenin howley, Sage publications,2010.

Statement of problem

This study is mainly focused to know how the community radio stations are working as agents in bringing social change at micro level. Whether the community radio services in rural areas are serving with result oriented activities or they are working like the mainstream media with their profit motives, commercialization, lack of participation of the audience in programme production and management.

Objectives

  1. To study the extent of exposure of community radio among the target audience.
  2. To examine the role of participatory aspect in creation of programme of community radio station.
  3. To examine how contents of the community radio are effective in creating impact and bringing social change in the target group.
  4. To study how the programme formats are perceived by the local audience.
  5. To study how audiences are enthused by the programmes of community radio.
  6. To examine the utility of community radio station for the local people.

Research methodology

This study is intended to examine the exposure, impact and utility of the Neladani Community Radio station. For this study, survey method has been adopted by the researcher as the methodology followed by questionnaire technique to collect data.

Analysis and findings

The Neladhani community radio station is located in Nelmangala, 30kms from Bangalore. It is an outcome of the efforts of the Divyajyothi Vidya Kendra, an NGO working for community participation in programe creation. The radio station broadcasts for six hours daily, both morning and evening, on all week days. On Sundays, it extends to seven hours of broadcast.

Format of Neladhani Programmes

The format shows that 35% of the programmes are devoted to interviews (5), 28% to radio talks (4), 21% to discussion programmes (3) and14% to phone-in programmes (2).

Types of programmes

In the overall format, four programmes are meant for students and youth, four programmes are cultural, two are dedicated to farmers, three to women and one health programme.

Table:

Gender Age Income Level
Men: 38
Women :32
Youth: 28
Middle: 30
Aged: 2
Low: 08
Middle: 49
Higher: 13
Total 70 70 70

Major Findings

The table below reveals the extent of exposure of the Neladhani CRS reaches 67% of the community, remaining 33% are not exposed to the community radio station.

Perception of programme

The table below reveals that 62% of the audience agrees that the CRS programmes are followed, 22% feel that they are better 16% say can’t say.

Participation aspect

In terms of participation in programme, 39% feel that the participatory aspect is considered while creating programmes, whereas 58% do not feel so, 3% don’t know.

Impact and educative aspects

In terms of impact 63% feel that programmes are creating impact and change in their lives, 32% are neutral, 5% disagree.

Utility of Neladhani

65% of the audience finds the programmes useful, 33% are neutral, 3% don’t agree and say that the contents have to improve.

Findings

  1. A large majority of respondents feel that the programmes have the local flavour in terms of language and it helps them perceive the programmes in better light.
  2. In terms of utility rate also the majority feels that giving necessary information regarding issuing ration cards, pensioner card and local happenings has made the radio station a high utility factor among the community.
  3. Majority of the respondents feel that the contents are creating impact on them with the youth and cultural programmes, Health and farmer programmes are changing opinion and in adopting new innovations.
  4. The majority feels that programmes are understood and are perceived as personal and intimate because of the use of local language.
  5. In terms of participation, the majority felt that programmes were non-participatory in character because operations and management of the programme require technical expertise which was lacking with the community.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the community radio is a highly personal and effective medium because of its innate character. As community radio turns more participatory in its programme creation it can be a torchbearer of the rural India in terms of development and social change.

References

  1. M Abdul Rehman Pasha,Community Radio, The Voice of Voiceless, Bangalore
  2. M Abdul Rehman Pasha An audio approach to Development Communicaiton, Bangalore
  3. Pavrala Vinod & Kanchan Malik Other Voices, Sage publications India Pvt ltd, New Delhi.
  4. S. U Khan ‘Community Radio of rural development’, Aligarh Muslim University.
  5. UNESCO India http:/whc.unesco.org.
  6. Community Radio Forum India http://www.communityradioindia.org.

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