As Andalu akka and her friends entered into the radio station, they whispered to each other, excitement brimming on their faces. Andalu akka looked all thrilled as she clutched the end of her saree, smiled and shyly spoke on the mike in Bol Hyderabad radio station. On February 13, 2020, Bol Hyderabad 90.4, the campus community radio (CR) of the University of Hyderabad (UoH) celebrated World Radio Day upholding the theme ‘Radio and Diversity’.
Keeping in mind this year’s theme for World Radio Day, the students invited people from diverse backgrounds to the radio station to share their experiences of engagement with the radio. While one session was with the non-teaching staff of the department, another one was with a visually challenged student from the Department of Communication (DoC), UoH.
Being born in a generation where radio was the primary source of entertainment, the non-teaching staff shared an emotional affinity towards the medium. Radio, for many of them, is a relief during their long work hours. Andalu couldn’t resist singing when her favourite song was playing in the radio station. When old songs were played on Bol Hyderabad that day, they became nostalgic. The transmission room was then filled with their joyful singing and that too the perfect lyrics.
Prof. Usha Raman and Ms. Anjali Lal Gupta of the DoC shared their childhood experiences with the radio. “I fondly remember listening to the Binaca Geetmala as a child,” said Prof Raman, smiling. Later in the day, Prof. Vinod Pavarala, UNESCO Chair on Community Media and Prof. Vasuki Belavadi, Head, DoC, participated in a panel discussion on ‘Issues concerning community radios in India.’ Recalling his experiences of working with community radio (CR) stations in Bundelkhand, Prof. Pavarala said, “Community radios have been the lifesaver of many local languages in India.” On the other hand, addressing concerns over the procedural difficulties of setting up a community radio station, Prof. Belavadi said, “Yes, they do exist. But things are improving.”
This was followed by a special session on digital love. Mansi Choudhary, a first-year MA Communication student who took part in this live discussion said, “It was a unique experience. Usually, radios never take up such topics for discussion. I am happy that Bol Hyderabad did.”
The open house was another event highlight. Students from different departments visited the radio station. They experienced hands-on, activities such as recording, editing, and going live on air. Mr. Naveen Sen, the Bol Hyderabad station in-charge, coordinated the entire event. “The radio volunteers and RJ’s of Bol made World Radio Day (WRD) a great success,” said Mr. Sen.
Bol Hyderabad didn’t stop its endeavours with this one-day event. It started a new talk show by the name ‘Ulti Evenings’ and inducted four new student RJs. This one and a half an hour show in the evenings brings to its listeners not just information but a playlist of beautiful music.
Bol Hyderabad has always put community well-being first. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the radio station started a COVID-19 awareness campaign soon after the WRD celebrations. It was common before the days of social distancing and lockdowns took over, to see a group of students sitting in a circle, making jingles, and recording them. The campaign undertaken by Bol Hyderabad aimed to provide necessary information as well as facts, and debunk the rumours around corona that were creating panic. The campaign also included voices of experts from health centre on the campus talking about the epidemic.
Based on the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on prevention of the disease, students made posters and put them up at public spaces around the campus. Students also shared videos on the right way to wash hands through different social media platforms.
Nimisha S Pradeep
Department of Communication
University of Hyderabad