Poonam Ahuja    18 Apr 11 13:06 IST


Rohit Jagdale, CEO of Techno Creations and Consultant to Radio  Nagar 90.4 FM, the first Community Radio Station (CRS) in Maharashtra which is on air for 18 hours, seven days a week, tells Poonam Ahuja of the challenges a CRS faces in its mission to reach, inform and educate its target community  Government-stipulated curbs like a 5-minutes-per-hour ad inventory at an abysmally low ad rate of Re 1 per second, their short 5-year license periods and much lower powered transmitters are some of the biggest hurdles, all of which result in a topline that prohibits their ability to attract good professional talent. And with such restrictions and poor financial health, they are expected to alleviate the lives of the communities they touch. Excerpts.

Tell us about Radio Nagar 90.4 FM. How was it born, and why did you choose community radio for Snehalaya's mission in and around Ahmednagar?

Radio Nagar 90.4 FM was born of an idea given by the community itself. It is a part of Snehalaya, established by youth volunteers in 1989 to help change the lives of prostitutes, their offsprings, HIV-positive children and women, and other women and children living in slums, etcetera. These are some of the most neglected, hated and exploited social sections of our society.

Radio has become our medium of choice because Television and Print were was not giving due exposure to the basic issues of community and the work of Snehalaya, and anyways, most of our target communities are poor and illiterate, and not suited for printed and electronic communications. They neither purchase newspapers nor can pay the subscription of cable and television networks.

So the NGO realized we would need a low-cost medium that was understood by and available to our target audiences, and  controlled by the community, because only then would the community be able to express its pains and perils confidently and fearlessly.

Radio has helped the community solve their own problems as well as convey the reactions to civil society and Government. Happily, it needs much lower investment, it is in the local Marathi language, and therefore enables our target community to raise basic issues in its own voice. It bridges our target community. But of course, there are several challenges too.

Before we discuss the challenges, tell us about Radio Nagar's programming. When and for how many hours do you go on air?

We are on

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