The UNESCO Chair on Community Media organised a two-day workshop on ‘Revisiting Campus Community Radio’, to understand and facilitate the functioning of Community Radios in the context of campuses across the country. Organised at the University of Hyderabad, the workshop had delegates from about ten institutions from across the country.
Day One of the workshop saw delegates sharing their diverse experiences in working with their respective campus community radio stations. Some key ideas like the need to engage with the community outside the institutional setup, challenges in working with a fluid student population, difficulties with procuring licenses for campus community radios in disturbed areas and more emerged from discussions.
In addition, delegates were involved in discussions around the philosophy behind community radios in general and campus community radios in particular. A detailed discussion about the application procedure as well as, the Community Radio Policy Guidelines ensued. The group also participated in a session that posed the idea of who the ‘community was, in campus community radio. Day One came to a close with the participants being divided into two groups and discussing the idea of ‘community’ in the context of their respective campus community radio stations, in terms of programming, management and participation.
On day two, delegates went on to share their experiences in engaging with the community that their campus community radio caters to. A session on technological options for campus community radios highlighted the idea that high-end technology could yield great broadcast quality, but might deter participation from the community.
The last session of the workshop dealt with content and station management, and the delegates recognized the need to ensure that most of the content needs to be emerge from the community. Concerns over station management, a tight-rope walk with the administration being involved in some institutions, were also reflected upon.
The following are some of the key recommendations that emerged out of the workshop:
• Campus community radios operate from institutional setups and hence, must be tuned to the needs and aspirations of the student community that they cater to. Campus community radios must also acquaint themselves with communities in their listenership areas and gather an understanding of local issues pertinent to the community.
• Since campus community radios are youth-driven, they could engage students in not only producing educational and entertainment content, but to also act as links with the larger community.
• Campus community radio stations need to be sensitive to the needs of marginalised groups within the community, and programming content and community participation should provide space for such linkages.
• Innovative ways of attracting community interest and facilitating participation need to be devised. Orientation and training programmes for volunteers within the community need to be organised to enhance their capacities in using such equipment to produce content for broadcast.
• A network of campus community radio stations could be created for sharing programme ideas and content, technology and best practices with respect to community participation.
Preeti Raghunath & Mahaprajna Nayak