Community Media/MARAA/Community Radio/Participation/Programming
Participation by community in Programming
Given the ambiguity about management in the Indian community radio policy, most groups focus on programming as the participatory aspect of the community radio station. It is very important as this is the most daily and regular aspect of the radio station where the community can get involved.
- Scripting for radio is not easy but gets exciting as you get the hang of it. If you have internet access, log on to the BBC site, and hear some programs online. See if you can dig up scripts for those programs from the site. As you do this repeatedly, undoubtedly you'll see some patterns emerging. For starters, the script always is very descriptive, and evocative. Obviously since the listener really has to imagine what the RJ/talent is saying on the radio. Second, the sentences are short, crisp and very personal. Similarly, there are various thumb rules while writing a script. Once you get these figured out, you should try and write short scripts for various program kinds or formats as they're called. So try writing scripts for dramas, documentaries, short adverts, features, reports etc. Over the years, you'll no doubt evolve a style of your own. Scripting surely takes more time than just speaking off the cuff, but try and script whenever you can, because it makes the radio program way more planned out and comprehensive, and it ensures that you're putting a lot of care into making the program.
- Talent connotes giving your voice to the radio programs. On many occasions, there are people who would love to participate in the radio, but just don't have the time to learn things, to figure out the equipment etc. If you're one of them, no need to worry. You can land up in the studio whenever you're free, and offer to play small parts in radio dramas if they're being recorded, or offer to read out parts if documentaries are being recorded, or if you have a pet hobby or you know about some subject really well, offer yourself as a guest on some RJ's show, who we're sure will gladly take up the offer!
- Recording in the Studio is hard work, since you'll have to usually ask people to come in to the studio, tell them how to sit in front of the mic, make them comfortable, and then figure out their audio levels. Depending on how loud or soft they are, you will adjust the levels on the computer or on the mixing console. After that, you'll record the byte on the computer, and then save it in an appropriate location. You'll really need to know every piece of equipment in that studio like the back of your hand if you want to be the "recordist" of your studio. Community Radio stations have this funny tendency of some important piece of equipment not functioning especially at times when some really important things are being recorded ;)
- Field Recording is meant for you, if you prefer to talk, mingle and love to hang around all kinds of people. First of all you need to know how your field recorder works. Figure out how to start, pause, stop, and record audio on the recorder. Then you also need to know how to save your files in various folders, and if the feature is available, how to bookmark each recording. This saves a lot of time for people who are going to download your audio in to the computer and edit your audio. Also, field recording for audio is really tricky, and you need to figure out which places are good to record outside the studio, how to work around breeze, construction work, traffic, crowds, concerts, arrogant officials whose mobile phones keep ringing in between, and a thousand other things. There are no real pointers for these situations. The best way to learn field recording, is to actually go to the field every day, and learn from trial and error!
- Research is one of the most important areas of a radio station because only through research and feedback will one know if people are tuning into your community radio. Also, its a good way of knowing if your radio station is making any difference at all in the lives of its listeners. Research should be a judicious mix of qualitative and quantitative mechanisms. Quantitative mechanisms are basically collecting demographics about your community, percentage of listeners, how many people tune in at what time, and which programs specifically; qualitative research includes a mapping of your community in terms of social, informational and technological networks, and investigating how community radio enhances or subverts these networks. Both kinds of research should feed back in to the daily operation and long term planning of the radio station.
- Program schedule is an important activity, which allows various kinds of people and communities to be represented on the radio even though everyone may not be always be physically present at the station at all times. So it is important for every radio station to craft its schedule in such a way that it caters to all communities, and yet retains interest of its audience. If this kind of work interests you, then you could be involved in holding/facilitating public meetings at various community groups, and collecting feedback about how the program schedule can be reshaped and rethought according to them. This feedback from people will be extremely valuable to the radio station in tweaking its programming.