15-year-old Vignesh from a poor family, studying at the Kuvempu Government High School, is visibly excited as he is writing a Kavana in the studios of a Community Radio Station (CRS) with guidance from Jayamala, an anganwadi teacher turned studio manager.
Day in day out, this tiny FM station sees hordes of students, youth and women from the surrounding areas of Hoskote taluk, producing and presenting their programmes live on a variety of issues affecting the community.
Sarathy Jhalak, 90.4 FM is a classic example of a CRS weighed down by economic constraints and inability to pay its programming staff. Funded by the Karnataka Government, they have established the station with great difficulty.
Probably, this is the first ‘all women CRS’ of our country! “One should have money and passion to run such a show daily. Till date, we have received a funding of Rs 5 lakh and only in the next three years, we will get another Rs 5 lakh.
Despite the financial constraints, we have been able to reach the community and it gives us tremendous satisfaction when students, women and experts come voluntarily to take part in our programmes,” says the brain behind this channel, Shamanthaka Mani, NGO, media professional and author.
Since its inception 50 days back, this station has been belting out programmes and bringing a subtle change in a semi-rural population on the outskirts of Bangalore.
“We are carrying out programming from 6-8 pm and almost 10-15 people come to our studios for interaction every day. Response has been very good as we have been able to reach a community who otherwise would never have got an opportunity to express their opinion,” says Studio Manager, Jayamala.
Operating from a four room tenement at Anugondanahalli amidst green fields, this FM station is presently operating on a trial basis.
Covering an area of 30 kms and a target population of 8-10 lakhs, they are reaching Whitefield, Hoskote, Anekal, Malur, Karnataka-TN border Bagur, Sarjapur, Chikatirupathi and K R Puram.
A lot of people have been extending a helping hand like Krishna Reddy from the Mallur Town Planning Authority, Advocate Appaji Gowda, the Chikka Tirupathi Srinivas Devasthana Trust, Dr Sanjeev Aundhe from the Emperian Township to take the concept of CRS forward and empower a deprived population in this rural environs.
To give a new impetus to women’s empowerment, Shamantaka has involved men for women’s programmes.
Radhakrishna and T Ravi broadcast the issues affecting women five days in a week.
“It has become an ideal platform for many women to tackle issues pertaining to the youth, social problems, health and other day-to-day events affecting the community,” says Radhakrishna.
With hardly any rehabilitation measures for the physically challenged in and around these villages, Sarathy Jhalak is also hoping to address the problems of not only the differently-abled but also the elderly population and the students from poor families.
“We have been successful in motivating Stree Shakthi groups in giving a new perspective to women’s programming, while the government teachers are involved in providing student counselling and searching hidden talents through our channel.
We have been overwhelmed by the support given by people and social groups in the villages and in the future, we hope to give a marketing slot for local products and also develop the channel as a media adda,” says Shamanthaka and adds gleefully that the noted music composer Hamsalekha would be providing the signature tune.
With Sarathy Jhalak; strong in content and weak in infrastructure, managing to involve every section of the community which is for the people, by the people and of the people, it will not be surprising, if they make the concept of CRS very successful in the days to come.