Aruna Katragadda’s School Radio initiative in Visakhapatnam creates space for the 5-25-year-olds to express themselves.
With radio being pushed into the background and technology bringing visual media to many homes, Aruna was quick to see the gamut of opportunity this medium still had. Started on 13 February 2015 in Visakhapatnam, a day that marks World Radio Day, the concept of School Radio was both simple and powerful. It would target school going children via programmes created by peers of their age groups.
Deciding to go online, owing to low cost and wider reach through the Internet, this was planned to be unlike community radio at the outset. With the cost of online radio not requiring high licensing costs, the Internet was the way to go. However shaping the concept of School Radio into reality, was a different ball game altogether. Also for Aruna, who was new to the line, mastering the intricacies, was a learning process.
With awareness on the radio being low, a lot of time and energy also had to be expended in convincing people of its feasibility and importance. But the end truly justified the means, feels Aruna, who elaborates on her measures of success. “We knew we were on the right track when we saw the happy expressions of the children, as we played their content to them on the radio,” she shares, her face reflecting enthusiasm. After a successful pilot project in ten schools, the three-day programme was polished further and taken to other schools. “Till date, 3000 students and 250 teachers have been trained, not just in Andhra Pradesh, but in Telangana and Maharashtra as well. In fact, students pursuing graduation and post-graduation courses are also part of School Radio.”
Recharging a medium considered obsolete, today the School Radio is doing many things. It has a 3-day training module, where school students are trained on the content building, editing, production, and broadcasting. Teachers are trained in moderating the content and aspects for students to work on. Being a student-driven initiative, it is these students who choose the language of content, the RJ, scriptwriters and even the anchors. Taking charge of the entire process, the created content is also edited by the students.
The team of School Radio offers technical support, shares Aruna. “They send recordings to us every month, and our six-member team does the final edits, before putting it up on School Radio. The benefits of this initiative have been many”, Aruna shares. “Not only do the children learn the entire process of creating a radio show, but they also shed their fears, become more confident, improve their language, learn to research, master negotiations and get motivated and learn to work as a team.” A novel concept on many fronts, School Radio also opens young minds to the new age opportunities in media and broadcasting.