Community Media/MARAA/Community Radio/Participation/Narrowcasting

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This activity is critical for the station to keep in touch with what is the pulse of the community. It also is a useful tool for gathering concrete real time live feedback, not only depending on feedback from phone or letters etc. It also is a good way for reporters to keep in touch with community members and affords an opportunity to discuss matters of importance to the community in depth. Always good for more program ideas.

Basically, the activity is simple. Firstly, narrowcasting is the opposite of broadcasting. It means selecting a focused group of community members, pre-selecting an audio program and playing it to them in their village at a pre-selected location chosen and preferred by them. Once a reporter facilitates this playback, then he or she will get feedback on this program. Not only technical feedback like quality of voice, language and volume etc, but also whether they found the program useful, relevant and whether they were able to understand what is being conveyed. The narrowcast can also be used to ask community members what they would like to hear in the future, and also be used as an opportunity to record some feedback about the radio station in general or about specific programs. This can then be broadcast in the form of a feedback show.

Case Study of Radio Bundelkhand

We first described the process of narrowcasting, from selecting appropriate program, pre-planning, selecting community group, informing about date, place and time of narrowcast, implementing narrowcast and moderating subsequent discussion. The purpose of the narrowcast was discussed in great detail, following which one of the participants conducted a mock narrowcast with the rest of the team, which posed as a women’s self help group. This participant was hounded with tough questions which demonstrated the challenges of narrowcasting. The participant was unable to handle several questions asked and unsure about information on issues which came up in the discussion. This was followed up by another discussion wherein basic principles of narrowcast were discussed. These were:

  • Listen to the program at least twice before narrowcast
  • Anticipate, research and learn all possible information about the program before going to the field
  • Ask short and specific questions
  • Do not adopt a preaching tone, but seek feedback
  • Dig deeper and don’t be satisfied with initial responses
  • Be patient with group
  • Moderate discussion with focus on the program/issue
  • Suggest practical ways for the group to participate in programming if group is interested
  • Talk slowly and clearly
  • Explain benefits of community radio and how they can play a role

After this, the team was divided in to two groups and went to one village where each group conducted a narrowcast. The team returned with some feedback where they learnt that follow up on adult literacy needed to be made (after narrowcasting an education based program), wanted more radio plays and community wanted to participate in the making of such plays.