Village Communities are the hot Bangla RJs

Move over big city slickers, if this article is anything to go by, the hottest Radio Jockeys are those in a Bangladeshi village near you.  It’s the local lingo that’s broadcasting Bingo.

Community radio is fast catching on in Bangladesh. Many rural Bangladeshis have embraced this form of media. They say it provides them with a voice and a bridge to the wider world. Unlike mainstream broadcast media, community radio uses local dialects to communicate with its audience.

A few years ago, as television and cell phone service reached almost every nook and cranny of Bangladesh, few imagined there could still be a market for community radio in the country.

“We broadcast 95% of our programmes in local language, and the majority of our audience consists of women. They feel very comfortable and easy to communicate with us,” Mehedi Hasan, manager of Radio Pollikontho (Rural Voice) in northeastern Moulavibazar, was quoted in the local media as saying.

Currently, 14 of 16 stations with permission to operate are on air, with the others in testing mode. Community radio reaches some 5 million people within 13 of the nation’s 64 districts. Its rising popularity has prompted authorities to issue a second set of licences to new bidders. The number of stations is set to double to nearly 30, according to the Information Ministry, which fields the applications.

“Community radio now acts as the mouthpiece of the village people,” Additional Information Ministry Secretary Khalilur Rahman stated. “They no longer feel cut off from the power centre, and use the medium to air their demands and grievances. We take serious note of them.”

Community radio can counter misconceptions about Islam and jihad that extremists use to gain recruits, experts say. “Some mosques, madrassas and religious groups are using religion to create confusion and division among Muslims to serve their agenda,” said Abdul Bari, general secretary of the Bangladesh College-University Teachers Association. Community radio “can be used as an effective tool to counter such misconception and propaganda,” he said.

Foreign donors, meanwhile, are also using the medium to step up their aid programmes, especially in skill-building and poverty alleviation.

Free Press Unlimited, a Dutch non-governmental organization has already teamed up with Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) to launch aid projects to accomplish these goals.

Local language communication via radio proved vital to mobilizing people during the powerful cyclone Mahasen, which devastated coastal regions in May.

“The local residents of Teknaf depended heavily on our broadcast during the Mahasen cyclone as we made constant announcements about the nearest cyclone shelters, evacuation methods and other life-saving tips,” Shamsul Alam, manager of Naf Radio was quoted as saying.

The BNNRC estimates that some 540 village men and women work as broadcasters and news gatherers at the 14 community stations currently operating around the country.

 

‘We’re very encouraged to see the growing interest about community radio among the rural population, and we’re convinced that it can play a pivotal role in poverty alleviation, disaster management and fighting extremism and drug abuse,” BNNRC chief executive officer AHM Bazlur Rahman told Khabar.

Despite its huge potential, the growth of community radio is hampered by a lack of skilled manpower and the absence of self-sustaining revenue sources. The BNNRC has approached the EU for technical and financial help.

“We’re confident that if you get adequate support from the government along with the promised EU help, we’ll be able to overcome the impediments,” BNNRC magazine editor Amin Al Rashid told the media.

Rajshahi village grocer Akash Hossain Rubel, 28, listens to Padma community radio and finds it useful on many fronts. “It’s not only for entertainment that I tune in every day,” Rubel said. “I’ve learned a lot about many issues concerning my daily necessities like health and legal matters. I can also send any questions and voice my demands through SMS and I get the answers instantly,” he claimed.

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Posted by on October 5, 2013. Filed under Bangladesh,Breaking News,MEDIA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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