Community radio: grappling with forms

I eat my words. Okay not all of them. But at least the ones in the last blog where I cribbed about the WPC site. It turns out that the site has all the links — just that none of them show up when you access the site using Mozilla Firefox. Or for that matter if you’re using a version of Internet Explorer that is less than 5.5.

Since I am guilty of the first offence (I was forcibly evicted from my comfortable but limited IE existence and made to learn Firefox), no wonder nothing showed up. Apparently its a global malaise – of site programmers not checking their sites workability and usability on browsers other than IE. The irony of a community radio access site insisting on users having the latest version of a software in a country where affording a computer is a luxury of sorts seems to have missed the entire ministry.

It was a very helpful Mr Ali at WPC who pointed out why the door of the site was shut in my face. He patiently held onto my call while I opened up Explorer, and then the site, and then the demo. He asked me to click here, and click there, and voila, there was a demo for people just like me – lost in the maze of this application process.

That should have been straightforward enough, but it isn’t. The application form for the wireless license understandably asks all sorts of technical questions, none of which I have answers for. Emission? No idea. Distance between two stations? Huh? We’ve been trying to stay away from “experts” who have been banging on our doors ever since it must have become known that we’re lined up to receive the license (even before we were told about it!). Mainly because it involves a geometric inflation of costs. From thousands, the cost has jumped to lakhs, and when the last expert was here, it was double digits that he was talking about.

We’re hoping for help from the Barefoot College at Tilonia who are in the process of setting up their own low-cost radio but till then there is the application form to be dealt with.

The helpful lady at CEMCA, Monica, says she is grappling with the same form for some other applicants. So, she’ll pass on the “know-how” once she’s figured it out for them.

But I have a feeling, we have to find a way of doing this ourselves. Or, we’ll always have that lost puppy looks on our faces, even on the day we finally start broadcasting.

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