Today’s EMPOWER NEWS discusses how more voices can be heard when using ICTs to boost ‘the good old FM radio’ – also for community radio.
Many tools are available and where community radio is widely recognized as a powerful platform for community organisation and change, ICTs offer many possible applications of these powerful opportunities for dialogue, interaction and change.
An EMPOWERHOUSE online course will soon be launched dealing with up-to-date experience on how to use social media to further amplify voices and strengthen community participation, engagement and ownership!
Stay tuned to this channel, where more information will be forthcoming!
All a question about how you use the tools!
As so often discussed, and so often realised the ‘message’ – or the story – is not in the ‘medium’. It is all a question about how we use the platforms and tools available. And intelligent use of technologies have brought a variety of tools, extending if not the reach of community radio, then at least the feed back, dialogue and engagement opportunities.
100 messages from the listeners – per day !
Frontline SMS is a system allowing community radio listeners to send text messages to the station commenting on the issues broadcast. The message is sent to a free number, providing access, and the oftentimes sensitive messages can be totally anonymous. * If you don’t want to watch the full 15 minute documentary on a radio project in Niger, you can hear about the use of Frontline SMS 2:12 min into the film. The Leaders of Change
More than 100 messages are presently being received in Niger, where this tool is being used to get comments to programmes, requests for more or other information, and alerts on developments that the radio can then in turn disseminate.
Using mobile platforms such as Frontline SMS, it is also possible to integrate SMS campaigns with radio programmes and other community development activities.
Information can also be sent out by the station to listeners via SMS. This could be health information during a cholera break-out, information on movements by armed groups in conflict areas – or simply getting information out where no radio licences are available as is the case in Zimbabwe.
These new technologies expand the reach of traditional media as the FM radio, and improve audience interaction by making it more interactive, personalized and relevant.
Getting voice messages to the radio
And when writing is not the thing – illiteracy is high in many areas of the world where community radio is important – then the Freedom Fone system allows community members to call in their messages – turning the spoken communication two way - also outside of the radio programme itself.
You here find testimonies on the use of another software developed, being yet another powerful intermediary to the community radio where – indeed – 1+1 becomes more than 2! * 2:12 minutes into this Farm Radio documentary, the Community of Vijijini shares their testimonies on the radio using Freedom Fone:
For more on digital technologies and reinforcement of Community Radio, follow this link.
The Centre for International Media Assistance (CIMA) this study has just been presented asking a similar question: For promotion of Good Governance, does digital media carry part of a positive development themselves? The answer corresponds to what we are saying above:
“From this short survey of some key thinkers, can we conclude that there is a causal link between digital media and good governance? The sum of the arguments and cases presented here do not point to a causal link, but they certainly show that digital technology is shaping social movements and political processes as never before. What is clear is that digital technology is a tool, and that, as such, it can be an important contributor to “bad” governance as well as “good.” It can help topple dictators, but it can also help authoritarian regimes oppress their citizens; it can empower people, and it can anesthetize and manipulate them. It is also clear that something new and important is happening at the intersection of communications and governance and that these digitally-facilitated processes offer a rich seam for more in-depth research.”
So also here: no excuse – it is what we do with the tools, the content with which we fill them, the people who use them and the way they are being used, that make the difference. Again: WE are the change! YOU are the change!
But it is wonderful to have new, powerful tools to do it with!