Down to Earth - - COVER STORY -

OME FRI­DAY and the tele­phones at Gur­gaon Ki Awaaz, a com­mu­nity ra­dio sta­tion, will ring off the hook.The rea­son for the del­uge of calls is that its most popular weekly pro­gramme Cha­hat Chowk is aired on Fri­day af­ter­noons. And the one-and-a-half hours pro­gramme, which talks about re­pro­duc­tive and sex­ual health, is driven by queries raised by its lis­ten­ers. “We had started Cha­hat Chowk in 2010 with the plan of air­ing just 16 episodes, but we de­cided to con­tinue with it be­cause of the pop­u­lar­ity.We re­ceive queries through­out the week,and the num­ber of phone calls from our lis­ten­ers shoots to more than 50 on Fri­days,” says sta­tion direc­tor Arti Jaiman.

Gur­gaon Ki Awaaz is ar­guably one of the few com­mu­nity ra­dio sta­tions in the coun­try with 22 hours of broad­cast daily.Jaiman says the show has not only dis­pelled a lot of myths about preg­nancy and con­tra­cep­tion, but has been suc­cess­ful in re­duc­ing the stigma as­so­ci­ated with such top­ics in the ru­ral area of Mul­la­hera.

But de­spite its pop­u­lar­ity, Gur­gaon Ki Awaaz, like most other sta­tions in the coun­try, is strug­gling to keep afloat be­cause of gov­ern­ment apathy, com­pe­ti­tion from com­mer­cial ra­dio chan­nels and lack of funds.

“For masses, com­mu­nity ra­dio is ‘us’ as against the big me­dia, which is ‘them’,”says Ra­jiv Tikoo, direc­tor, OneWorld Foun­da­tion

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