A group of enthusiasts engaged in community initiatives in rural areas is on the move in Tumakuru district creating COVID-19 awareness using Wi-Fi-based mobile community radio station.
The one-of-its-kind radio station reaches out to distressed sections in remote areas where COVID-19 awareness is considerably low.
Girish NP, a radio enthusiast, who launched Namma Halli Radio in Tumakuru district, about 12 years ago to focus on primary education, conceived the idea.
“The Red Cross Society helped me get approval from the district administration. The mobile radio station was launched on April 5 at Gulur village in Tumakuru taluk,” Girish says.
Necessary devices such as computer, recorder, mike, amplifier and speakers have been fixed inside a van to form the mobile radio station. It mainly uses Wi-Fi and internet to air the content. Those within 500 metre radius of the van form the audience.
A smartphone is needed to listen to the radio. “However, the van stations near a cluster of houses and airs the content through speakers so that people can listen from inside their houses,” Girish adds.
The content covers personal hygiene, keeping surroundings clean and measures to be taken to prevent COVID-19.
As many as 10 students from TVS school in Tumakuru, who were trained in radio production, have developed the content.
“Working on the radio was quite interesting as it isn’t a thing I do regularly. It was exciting to listen to my own voice on the radio. I learnt many things about COVID-19 since I had to speak about it,” says Raksha Muralidhar, a Class 9 student.
“I decided to speak on COVID-19 pandemic as awareness about novel coronavirus is low in rural areas. I prepared the content and presented on the need to wear masks. Recording and editing the audio was fun,” says Anshu, a Class 10 student.
There is a facility in the station to record every programme and interaction. The team plans to share the content with the officials so that grievances of people can be redressed.
In the last one month, the mobile radio station has visited 60 villages in Tumakuru district and has reached over 25,000 people.
Development consultants Dr G Achuth and Dr Sheela, social activist Gopikrishna, driver Manjanna, and Red Cross volunteer Panchaksharaiah accompany Girish in the van. They issue necessary instructions for people to tune in to the radio on smartphones before airing the content.
They start at around 6 am and wind up by 6 pm. Sometimes, they continue beyond 10 pm. They meet farmers in fields, home makers in the by lanes and people near a shop. Interactions with residents are held every day at 7 pm. Social distancing is strictly maintained.
The programmes are streamed live on Facebook. Recently, about 6,000 people were watching one such interaction on Facebook. The number crossed 9,000 by 9 pm.
“Our intention is to disseminate proper information. People should join hands with the government in whatever way we can to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” he says.
They are identifying interested youths to form a network of radio practitioners for rural development.
“In the last one month, we’ve come across many new issues that need immediate attention. The post COVID-19 phase is going to be extremely challenging. We have decided to continue the initiative even after the pandemic ends,” Girish says.
Tumakuru district administration, Department of Information and Public Relations, Labour Department, Rotary Club, Siddaganga Institute of Technology, NGOs Janastu, APC, SMCE Trust, Selco Foundation and Digital Empowerment Foundation are backing the awareness drive.
Listen to the radio at http://www.namdu1radio.com.
(With inputs from Turuvekere Prassad)