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Community radio enters Lalitpur

© UNICEF/ 2008
Lalitlokvani, community radio station, Lalitpur, UP

*Transmission to start from New Year, dry run continues
* Range will cover 60 villages, link one lakh people

Kulsum Mustafa

Lalitpur, Uttar Pradesh: One of the state’s most backward districts Lalitpur, became one of the first in the country to get a community radio station set up by UNICEF. Lalit lokvani, a joint initiative of a local NGO Sai Jyoti Gramudyog Seva Sansthan and UNICEF is situated just 22 km from Lalitpur in Alapur village of Birdha block. The 15 km range transmission will take in its fold 60 villages covering approximately a one lakh population. While narrowcasting has been initiated, the actual transmission will start in January 2009, after getting the license from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

The real voice of the people, community radio is communication service that caters to the interests and needs of a specific area, its culture, craft, cuisine and above all social and development issues.

In November 2007 the Government of India made a policy of issuing private community radio licenses to 5000 stations. This made it possible for registered non-government organisations to enter the field. UNICEF saw the potential of this communication medium and selected Lalitpur, one of its integrated project districts for setting up the maiden community radio station.  

In November 2007 the Government of India made a policy of issuing private community radio licenses to 5000 stations. This made it possible for registered non-government organisations to enter the field. UNICEF saw the potential of this communication medium and selected Lalitpur, one of its integrated project districts for setting up the maiden community radio station.  

Speaking at an impressive community radio station inauguration ceremony in Alapur on October 21st, UNICEF State Representative, Samphe Lhalungpa, described Lalit lokvani as an “auspicious beginning for something intensely unique.” He said the initiative will bind hearts and minds together and create strong local bonds and respect for local culture.

UNICEF Communication Chief, Michael Galway, shared his sentiments. “It is an exciting day not just for Lalitpur but the entire India. Lalit lokvani will provide a platform for the locals to discuss local issues threadbare. All India Radio cannot do this from Lucknow or Delhi,” said a former reporter with Canadian radio, Galway.

The radio station manager, Mridual Srivasatava and his team of twelve confident village reporters including two women seemed equally enthused. They have all been provided technical training in reporting, researching, programme production, and broadcasting. As part of capacity building they have prepared programmes on local culture, festivals, development, women and health issues, narrowcasting the recordings in the catchment villages of community radio and collecting local feedback on the contents and presentations.

The radio station manager, Mridual Srivasatava and his team of twelve confident village reporters including two women seemed equally enthused. They have all been provided technical training in reporting, researching, programme production, and broadcasting. As part of capacity building they have prepared programmes on local culture, festivals, development, women and health issues, narrowcasting the recordings in the catchment villages of community radio and collecting local feedback on the contents and presentations.

“The radio broadcast will be a mixture of entertainment and education, focusing on local art and culture. Hard news as a policy will not be touched,” informed UNICEF State Programme Communication Specialist, Rachana Sharma, who is the moving spirit behind this project.

Project Director, DRDA, Mr. Pandey, called community radio an ‘innovative medium’. He was happy that Lalit lokvani will link Lalitpur to mainstream.

While UNICEF is providing financial and technical support to the project initially, the team is being trained to meet the monthly cost of running the radio station through local and government advertisements.  The team is confident it will sail through all hurdles.

“We are eagerly awaiting 2009. Our hard work will finally reach the listeners,” says Sunita Chandel, daughter- in -law of one of the conservative families of the village and one of the two women reporters in the team. Though she still covers her head with her sari yet Sunita seemed to have experienced true emancipation.

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