India Special Report Profile: Anna University CR


Community Radio Profile: Anna CR a Pioneer of Campus Stations

Name: Anna Community Radio 90.4 MHz

Place: Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Run by: Anna University         

Area covered: Kannigapuram, Kotturpuramm, Balajinagar, Saidapet, Little Mount, Kobalitittam, Chitra Nagar, Ventakapuram, all within a 10 km radius.

Population covered: Students and dense urban population

Profile of community: Students, day laborers and housewives

Target audience: 70 per cent female audience. Women listen and also participate in the programs.

Infrastructure: One transmission room, one recording room and large auditorium.

Permanent staff: Three

Transmission time: 11 hours. 7 am to 6 pm

Background:

In 2004, the then-director of Anna University's Educational Multi Media Research Centre (EMMRC) launched a plan to impart quality education in a novel manner – through a campus community radio station. Starting with some science and technology programming produced at the university, the station got a major fillip in 2005 when it was brought into the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) Science for Women (SFW) project. This sought to engage women from marginalized communities and to create awareness among them about the basics of science in daily life. The project was adapted to have local women produce their own radio programs for Anna CR. Women were paid Rs 300 to Rs 600 for their programs.

Achievements:

EMRRC Director Dr. M Alagar highlighted the sense of purpose that community members feel when they walk into the university studio to participate in programs. “For [community residents] to be able to mingle with educated and literate people is something that gives them a lot of confidence. The fact that many community volunteers have interviewed doctors and scholars, has given them a sense of achievement.”

He adds, “Knowledge gained is being transferred to society with the help of improved technologies...for the uplifting of marginalized communities. Thus, Anna Community Radio is Anna University’s contribution to society in ensuring dissemination of knowledge to weaker sections of society.”

In a sense, Anna CR is the pioneer of campus community radio in India. Vinoth Rajesh, who has been associated with the station since its inception, said, “We were the first campus radio station in the country and at that time we had no idea how things were to be done. Apart from this, in a city like Chennai there were already 14 FM channels that were extremely popular.”

Anna CRS is doing more or less what it set out to do. Forty to 50 percent of the programs are the product of community participation and involvement. Every six months there is a volunteers’ meeting to plan for the programs for the coming months.

Operating in Chennai, a large cosmopolitan city, means Anna CRS is able to arrange for experts, celebrities and academia to appear at events or participate in phone-in programs.

During festivals, debates are organized and celebrities are invited. Students from the Department of Media Sciences volunteered to anchor Samudhaya Neerkaanal, a live phone-in community program. Such programs got a very good response from the growing listeners of Anna CRS. The students are paid Rs 150 per program for their efforts. Every year since 2006 Anna CRS organizes an instrumental and vocal musical talent contest. By mid 2009, Anna CRS had amassed a bank of 3,000 hours of original music which is played on Anna CRS.


Sushmita Malaviya is a researcher and writer who lives in Bhopal.

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