Community Media/Case Studies

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Critical Success Factors (Case studies)

Educational content for community media: an experience from Nepal

The Nepal workshop and the programme that it resulted in were part of a UNESCO activity to develop educational content for community media. In 2004, UNESCO worked with an experience radio trainer to develop an approach for and then run a weeklong workshop to create a new educational radio programme at Community Radio Madanpokhara, established in 2000 in Palpa District in Western Nepal,

The workshop brought together local teachers and radio producers who identified 70% failure rates of secondary students as the top local priority and then designed a simple effective media programme to address it. Three years later it is one of their most popular programmes and there is general consensus that the programme has made a tangible difference in pass rates.

Key Success Factors

Key success factors were:

  1. the radio station’s commitment to the process, i.e. they provided a significant block of primetime for the programmes (now 4.5 hours per week) and free access for teacher-producers to the internet to expand their access to new ideas and information sources;
  2. building local capacities is a long term process and needs to grow organically; the Madanpokhara project was designed with long term goals in mind, essentially following students through their last three years of secondary schooling; and;
  3. community investment: the programmes addressed a critical need for the whole community and therefore people (rather than donors) have invested to sustain it -- resources (the radio station), expertise (teachers), time (students), support (parents).


Radio Sagarmatha: Nepal, capital, 1+ million

  1. License held by NGO: NEFEJ (itself member-based and democratic)
  2. No members
  3. Board of directors based on executive of NEFEJ and appointments
  4. Managed by paid staff; hierarchical
  5. Programmed largely by paid employees: 40-80
  6. Focus:
    • Public interest and national culture
    • Experts not access
    • Innovative
  7. Proactive in terms of women’s participation
  8. Dominated by “high caste”; no political affiliation
  9. Funded by ads, donors
  10. 500 Watts
  11. Passive (public)

Vancouver Cooperative Radio: Canada, big city, 2+ million

  1. License held by the station
  2. Cooperative of members: 25000+ members; 2500 active
  3. Board of directors elected by members
  4. Managed by small team of staff; with decision-making by committees (programming, training, membership and outreach, finance, technical, web)
  5. Programmed by 300+ volunteers, especially ‘social movements’ and ‘representatives’
  6. Content focus on ‘marginalized’, alternatives:
    • Social movements, ‘causes’, minorities, languages, music
    • Non-commercial information, culture
    • Best: alternative news/issues; culture/music
    • Empowerment
  7. Highly proactive in terms of participation: quotas, affirmative action
  8. Dominated by women, community, minorities
  9. Funded by members, limited ads
  10. 5500 Watts; cable FM
  11. Democratic

Radio Lumbini: Nepal, town, villages; 1+ million

  1. License held by a non-profit coop
  2. Cooperative of owners: 200 members
  3. Board of directors chosen by members
  4. Managed by small group: manager, active board members, senior staff
  5. Programmed by 50+ paid staff: FT, PT, programme based, ‘volunteer’ (interns)
  6. Focus on ‘community’:
    1. Common values, language, news, villages
    2. Positive social messages
    3. Best: village profiles, local news
  7. Reasonably active in terms of participation: women, disabled
  8. Dominated by “high caste”; political affiliation
  9. Funded by ads, donor support
  10. 500 Watts
  11. Active

CKUT Radio McGill: Canada, big city, 2+ million

  1. License held by a non-profit corporation – NGO
  2. All university students are members
  3. Board of directors determined/elected: university staff, elected students, radio staff, community rep (chosen)
  4. Managed by collective: manager, key staff
  5. Programmed by 200+ volunteers: community members, students
  6. Focus on ‘alternatives’ and ‘communities’:
    1. Social movements, alternative politics and culture (esp. music)
    2. Minority groups, especially languages
    3. Best: music, community services
  7. Pro-active in terms of participation: women, minority groups
  8. Dominated by youth
  9. Funded by membership, donations, limited ads
  10. 5000 Watts
  11. Active

Waiheke Radio: Waiheke Island, Auckland, New Zealand

Population: 8,000+. Island.

  1. Low Power FM broadcast - no license required
  2. Members, currently 6 but will expand. DJs are required to be members.
  3. Governed by a Trust, 4 members
  4. Managed by volunteers
  5. Focus on local community, specialist music shows
  6. Funded by grants, fundraising, membership fees, sponsorship/ads
  7. 4 watts
  8. Test broadcast running]

Case Studies Template

For guidelines for writing up a case study (i.e., what questions to ask, information to provide), please see the Case Studies Template