Narrow Casters in India Break Radio Barriers

Narrow Casters in India Break Radio Barriers

A Radio station licenses few and far between for regular people, many in India are turning to Narrow Casting, a means of talking to their community, reaching thousands through local ‘radio’ stations. Farmers in India Recently, a link from Indian Express was sent to me as a story idea.Underground community radio is being exercised in various regions of India, and it’s important to recognize the significance of narrow casts and the people they serve.Living in the so-called suicide belt, the hosts of popular radio magazine (narrow cast) declare that they have never once seen a farmer kill himself in their community.The community of which I write has developed their own self-sufficient means of farming over the past 20 years and radio hosts believe that their programming has contributed to the well-being and morale of her fellow neighbors.

The two Dalit women research, script, produce and anchor a weekly radio magazine that reaches about 5,000 fellow Maadiga (Dalit) village women each week. The Indian Express reports that with the help of UNESCO, an NGO called Deccan Development Society has given the Narsammas a school education and helped them narrow cast” (or talk) to their fellow sisters about local problems, health issues, social problems, and most importantly, tips on agriculture. The Narsammas believe that their local radio station may have helped add to levels of awareness in this dark corner.

We communicate in Telengana Telugu. The radio stations in AP all speak stiff Telugu which is not similar to our dialect. Also, they don’t understand our local problems or concerns either. We try and tackle local problems and we also have songs, by the way. We are heard through radio recorders over a public address system in large groups.

About 70 such organisations from all over India – aspirants to genuine community radio broadcasting – will come together at a conference to urge the governement to ease the process of applying for a broadcast licence. The Union Cabinet had cleared the proposal for community radio stations in November 2006, but small groups complain that there is still no clarity about how to do things. The conference has been organised by the Community Radio Forum-an initiative of Drishti-an Ahmedabad-based media and arts NGO.

All governments have since chosen to hold radio networks close to their chests. And this, despite the cable revolution opening up radio. Grudgingly, licenses have been given to about 23 private entities on FM. News by private players is still a government monopoly, restricting private players to entertainment. there will be several innovative cheap broadcast equipment packages on display-for instance the Radio-in-a-box, an entire radio station in a box, which costs half as much of a radio studio. But more than that, the organisers hope to win support for little people like themselves, who they say, add up to most of India.


February 23rd, 2017

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