Good Morning India—Community Radio Active CR 90.4MHz – Co-Founder- Pinky Chandran.


Ramdas Shenoyy from listening to Ms. Chandran on role of Community Radio in social transformation… from Bengaluru.

What is community radio? What made you start Radio Active 90.4?

Community Radio, simply put means ‘people’s radio’. Community radios are low-powered, not for profit that caters to people living in a particular geographical area. However, by definition caters to diverse and heterogeneous communities.

In April 2005, I joined Jain University, to head their Training and Development Department. On my first day at work, they were inaugurating the Department of Mass Communication. At the inauguration, my then colleague Karthik who was anchoring the session remarked that we must apply for a community radio license. I was fascinated and chased him for more details post the function and by the end of the day sent in our application for a community radio license. The vision, from the start, was to widen the community’s involvement in broadcasting and to encourage communities to create and own their media landscape while acting as a catalyst in meaningful social transformation and development.  

How can one start a community radio station? What are the challenges and process in brief?

Please visit the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, GoI, website. The policy guidelines specify the basic principles of community radio, eligibility criteria, content guidelines, transmitter power and range, funding etc. and the list of dos and don’ts.

I would highly recommend that those aspiring to set up community radio stations, visit existing stations and spend time understanding and unlearning popular concepts. 

Challenges are part and parcel of the functioning of any organization. The most important being financial. It is always an uphill struggle.

How can technology transform the lives of people?

Technology is a leveler, in more ways than one. And we must engage, converge and make use of opportunities that arise out of the same. With radio, I think, technology has simplified both production and distribution platforms.

What is the skill gap you see in today’s youth and what should they focus on?

I believe the first step in acknowledging the skill gap, is to address the issue of hands-on training, encourage lifelong learning by altering the current teaching and learning pedagogy, more industry-academia interactions. We have to focus on problem-solving, arts, sports, and soft skills, social skills, communication etc. that go beyond formal education.  

Tell us something about the solid waste management initiative

The term waste has multiple connotations. For those who routinely separate the wanted from unwanted and discard – waste has no value. For those who retrieve, sort, segregate, aggregate, trade and process waste, it has a different meaning and hence valuable doubling up as raw material for another process. 

As citizens, we need to be mindful of waste and people who work in waste. At SWMRT, our endeavor has been to promote the 2Bin 1 Bag method of waste management, along with decentralization, and inclusive waste management practices. We believe that as citizens it is our responsibility to segregate waste and do away with the Not in my Backyard syndrome.

The recent Tata Trust campaign initiative on 2 bins– how grave is the real situation as per you?

First of all, two-way segregation is unacceptable. Minimum three-way segregation is what we advocate for. (Please check www.2Bin1Bag). The 3-way segregation allows for the dignity of labour and helps retrieve materials for further process.  It is absolutely incomprehensible why we would want a sanitary-workers or a waste picker to segregate sanitary waste from dry waste.

In the last two years, I visited 14 cities in India, to understand waste practices and the situation is still grim. While some ULBs have made positive efforts to understand and appreciate the importance of waste management, some of them are still opting for mixed waste collection, leading to landfills or chasing large scale waste to energy plants, which in turn pollute land, water, and air and the entire cycle continues. This needs to be stopped. Segregation of waste at source, decentralization by waste streams, and destinations, and localized processing, investment in back end infrastructure, the inclusion of informal waste workers and recognition of the entrepreneurial skills need to be recognized, phasing out non-recyclables and investment in better product packaging should be the way to go.

How can community radio be part of our education curriculum?

Community radios are safe spaces of the development of young people’s identity and an important space beyond the formal education set up. Rather than be mandatory, I believe that young people must be made aware and we must allow them to discover and engage in the platform. It allows for people to be producers of media content- from a different platform and with the convergence of other media, helps for a multi-sourced and diverse content, format and language, thus creating an enabling environment to explore and experiment.

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