On Thursday, February 25, 2010, Gurgaon’s only community radio station celebrates three months of round-the-clock broadcasting to a community that has remained voiceless throughout the transformation of Gurgaon from a sleepy cluster of villages 20 years ago to a much vaunted “Millennium City”. The only civil society-led community radio station in the entire National Capital Region, Gurgaon Ki Awaaz is a platform for and by marginalized community groups in Gurgaon, especially communities living in villages in and around Gurgaon, migrant workers and inner city residents for whom the gloss and glamour of malls and glass-fronted office buildings is simply a testament of the uneven development that has taken place in this town.
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So early on in the process of starting a community radio station, it is evident to me the transformation it is capable of bringing into communities and individuals. Here’s a story from “Media For Freedom” that is testimony to the power of CR.
Lucknow: 32 years old Kanshiram undergoes a complete transformation as he goes behind the microphone talking to his listeners on the Community Radio (CR). Formerly a bus conductor who used to ferry passengers to and fro from the remote village of Lalitpur, today he works as a radio jockey (RJ) at the newly set up community radio station here.
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We’ve just finished the first half of our needs assessment survey in a government school in Gurgaon. As batches of children, both boys and girls, sat in the Edusat room in this village school, I could soon identify the children who were having the maximum difficulty in reading the questionnaire, and writing their answers. Even when these answers were just a tick mark, or a simple yes or no. Sheer habit made them check with the student next to them - what had they written?
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There’s no doubt about it - we face challenging days ahead. The terror of air time is about to hit us. Even though we’re intending to start slow, with four hours of programming each day (two hours of programming broadcast once in the morning, once in the evening), it’s not easy ensuring that stuff gets out 365 days a year, which it must.
We’re planning on some core programs, around which we will add programs that are done on the fly, or as the children develop more story and programming ideas.
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So there I was at Sanchar Bhavan today morning. I left about 45 minutes later clutching my precious SACFA clearance letter, and a frequency allotment letter. Next step, we complete our survey (which is waiting for schools to open after the Dushera break), sign the GOPA, deposit the license fees, and get our Wireless Operating License - The License. Three months later, we better be ready to beam it up. So, we’re looking at end-January to launch Gurgaon’s very own community radio station.
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