Community Radio- A Powerful Development Communication Tool

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Being a part of an economy where information plays such a vital role, it’s prudent, especially for media students, to know what potential we hold in our courtyard, which could be instrumentalized for development. To educate students on this power of community radio as a tool for development, as part of the SCMC Perspectives guest series, Dr. Sudhamshu Dahal interacted with SCMC students on 4th December 2021.

Dr. Sudhamshu Dahal is an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Languages and Mass Communication at the School of Arts, Kathmandu University, Nepal. A visiting professor at Tribhuvan University (Nepal) and the University of Agder (Norway), he is also an adjunct professor at the School of Design, Vellore Institute of Technology (India). Dr. Dahal’s academic expertise includes a PhD in Media Sciences, ICT for Development; MA in Mass Communication and Journalism; MA in Economics; and a BSc in Statistics. His teaching areas include New Media and ICT, social media studies, culture and society, communication theory, and research methodology. He has 25 years of progressive work experience in managing social outreach and community engagement projects using strategic communication for planning, execution, and evaluation in South Asia’s corporate, government, and international development sectors.

Explaining the fundamental concept behind community radio, Dr. Dahal simplified it as “the media in which the community participates as planners, producers, performers, and receivers.” Community is of prime importance in comparison to regular fare on the radio. In an attempt to demystify communication for development radio, Dr. Dahal focused on the three pillars on which the development communication tools reside, namely, ‘Access, Participation, and Management.’ He emphasizes the need for community media organizations to be internally organized on democratic lines while resisting MNCs from emerging as a tool for social transformation. Dr. Dahal primarily focused on the role of radio in various countries of Southeast Asia like Indonesia, Taiwan, and Thailand. In particular, he talked about Nepal and how local concerns, issues, and agendas are being raised through its 400 community radio stations. Dr. Dahal further introduced the students to two very distinct radio station setups, one of which is a global community radio station in the Jomsom district of Nepal that has won a design prize, built beautifully in integration with the Jomsom town and landscape.

When asked how students can endeavour to participate in community radio, Dr. Dahal encouraged the students to start their SCMC radio and take up issues that need to be addressed for the larger student community. It can be taken further by providing a platform to the surrounding communities whose voices might not be addressed. Dr. Sunil Belladi also proposed internet radio as a substitute that can be explored.

It was a fruitful morning for the students of SCMC as they gained insight into the different aspects of democratic media and the means of development communication. Exploring this impactful form of media was a value addition and enriching experience for Symbiosis’ media students.

Harshita Goyal
(Batch 2024)