By Frank Krishner
‘Radio-o-o Bachpan-n-n!!!’ the voice of ten year old Shabnam trilled through the loudspeakers and the audience laughed and clapped with glee.
Children and a few adults assembled at Ravi Bharati institute in Patna to hear the ‘pilot’ episode of a radio programme scripted and executed by other kids.
The idea was to celebrate Children’s Broadcasting Day by demonstrating just how good kids can be for community radio.
With community radio poised to take off in Bihar soon, a group of child rights’ workers, with the help of Ravi Bharati and UNICEF planned a small, low-cost project that could be easily replicated.
It was a four day project. The children put together content at the workshop.
Six children from the Musahar community of Sasaram - one of the poorest social castes in Bihar – put together the songs.
They worked together with local musicians and recorded six tracks in the Ravi Bharati studio. “Mummy Daddy, Teacher, Uncle, when will children have rights?” asks a song.
Twelve children from Bodh Gaya, Patna, and Munger brainstormed and came up with public service announcements on polio and the right to self expression, from their own perspective.
A radio discussion on AIDS developed around their own experiences: some children enlisted with NGOs’ non-formal education programmes had information about AIDS; a few had no school AIDS programme.
What emerged was 36 minutes of action packed kid stuff: two radio station logos, public service spots, a radio play, a panel discussion, two interviews, a ‘let’s learn English’ spot and original songs (based on folk tunes) in Hindi and Bhojpuri.
The audience were composed of 20 children from a programme for street children, six adults, including educators, the eighteen kids who made the programme and some college students.
The feedback from the kids was the most enthusiastic. “This is great because, it’s about us,” said more than one of the young listeners.
So far, the Radio Bachpan pilot programme has been played to over 400 children from all walks of life, and it has received an enthusiastic response.
The question is always, ‘when can we participate?’ Or ‘Where can we hear radio Bachpan?’ This shows that the time for a children’s community radio station has come.