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