Tuesday  14 | 02 | 2012 Naba Kishore Sarangi As a film technician, I had the opportunity to visit Koraput in Odisha several times over the ears. Each time I went, I was struck by its natural beauty - low rolling hills and red earth. and disheartened by its poverty: Koraput is one of the poorest districts in India, with high unemployment rates and low socioeconomic indicators. Inevitably, each time I returned, I was assailed by my inability to do something concrete for the people I had worked with and filmed. Was it right to document these people without actually helping them in some way? In 2008, I moved to Delhi to join Ideosync as an editor working on its radio productions. But the memory of Koraput never really went away. One night, about a year later, I received a phone call form a friend, informing me that one of the films we'd shot there had received a National Award. I was elated - but it also reminded me that I had made no headway in deciding what I could do for Koraput. But all that was to change sooner than I thought - I was packing my equipment one evening after a recording, when I heard that Ideosync's CR work was expanding to Koraput: Finally I was in a position to work on something on the ground there! What followed was hard but delightful work, working with South Orissa Voluntary Action (SOVA), a well known NGO with more than a decade of work in the region, and the local tribal communities. We designed and watched the CRS building come up in Chappar village, and watched the team go from hesitant beginners to confident radio producers aswe taught them what we knew. We saw community members sit enraptured around the stereo sets the reporters conducted narrowcasts with, and burst into animated discussions about the programmes they'd just heard... Two years later, Radio Dhemsa is finally finding its feet: The name Dhemsa comes from the Dhemsa Naccha, a tribal dance that's very popular in the area. Supported by UNICEF, the station will cover more than 60 villages including Koraput town itself. And with a steadily growing bank of programmes in Desiya, the local dialect, the team is making good progress towards their launch date around the middle of 2012. What a proud moment that's going to be for the Dhemsa team - and for me! (Glimpses of Dhemsa CRS and its team to the right.)
Blog Notes from the field from Ideosync team members.  © Ideosync Media Combine 2011/ Best Viewed at 1650 x 1050 or higher Friday  20 | 08 | 2010  N.Ramakrishnan Travelling down the Brahmaputra under a gloomy sky, it’s easy to feel as if you’re suddenly in a scene from Apocalypse Now. The chugging diesel, the muddy river and the overhanging vegetation only add to the illusion; and suddenly I’m Captain Willard, on his way up the Mekong to find Colonel Kurtz... I force myself back to reality. This is Dibrugarh, Assam, not Da Nang. And I’m on my way to visit Mishing villages on Dodia and Aichung chapories, the riverine islands that split the Brahmaputra into so many snaking channels as it winds it way across the landscape. We’re going to take some GPS readings that will - finally - let us mark the islands accurately on the map of Dibrugarh that we are drawing up. A temporary measure at best, since the islands shift every monsoon. See a video clip here.  Friday  03 | 09 | 2010  N.Ramakrishnan Lalit Lokvani 90.4 is on air in Lalitpur, UP! What a great feeling after 3 years of hard work! All the community reporters at Lalitpur have put in such a lot of practice, and lived through so many delays and little distractions that we almost cannot believe that we’re finally broadcasting! The launch function was a huge success: Very well attended! Read the press release here, listen to Lalit Lokvani’s signature tune here - and a folk song about the station over here. Friday  08 | 10 | 2010  N.Ramakrishnan Dhadkan CR 107.8 is also on air, in Shivpuri, MP! Our third station to go on air after Gurgaon Ki Awaaz and Lalit Lokvani - we’re on a roll! The broadcast was inaugurated by the District Collector, Mr.Rajkumar Pathak, who also participated in a live studio based programme as part of the opening broadcast. Read the press release here, listen to a clip from the inaugural broadcast here - and Dhadkan CR’s signature tune here. Thursday  19 | 05 | 2011  Rakesh Nair "Arre Sarnam, yeh lal button ko nahi dabaaoge to record kese hoga aawaz?” someone exclaims. “Lacchi Raam Bhaiyya, fader ko utha doon?” calls another. And as a hand signals a go, you hear: “Namaskar shrotaaon, aap sun rahe hein Dhadkan Samudayik radio...” Everyone inside the studio takes a collective breath of relief as everything is on track... When I was first introduced to the concept of Community Radio Stations, I never imagined that this would be such a powerful platform empowering the community. Over the course of the trainings I conducted, I've been trying to understand how becoming a part of this new process has transformed the lives of the CR team members at each site. And I’ve slowly realized that becoming a CR team member has given many of the CR volunteers a new life and visbility within their communities. Ramvati, a member of Dhadkan CRS in Shivpuri, MP says: “In the tribal community I belong to, women are not considered as an equal counterparts of the men; and so no one wanted to listen to my opinion when there used to be a discussion happening in the family or the community. But today I have my say in whatever matter is being discussed.” Proud words, and well deserved! Click on the links to the left to see the interviews with Ramvati Adivasi and Ramshree Chandel, both from Dhadkan CR, Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh. "All systems are go! You're on the air...NOW!" The Dhadkan team at work on a broadcast Champabai Adivasi (wo)mans the transmission console Rakesh Nair explains an editing technique to the CR team Sunday 25 | 03| 2012 Devi Leena Bose Recently as a part of my work on our Grassroots Mediascapes project - under which Ideosync is working with the Society for Labour & Development (SLD)  - I visited Kho Gaon, near Manesar, Haryana. True to its name - Kho Gaon translates roughly as 'lost village' - the village is home to many lost identities. The inhabitants of Kho Gaon see themselves as belonging to nowhere: They feel neither part of the city nor their home villages anymore. I was there to assess the media consumption trends, and understand the media that could be used to create community conversations around issues of displacement and migration. At first I thought this would be a really simple exercise. But my first interaction with this community broke several of my own assumptions. As soon as I entered the compound I was greeted with colorless cemented walls of the mock urban aparments that stood starkly against the intense colours of the people's lives. The general idea that we are given in 'J' schools a.k.a. Journalism schools is that radio reaches areas where TV doesn't reach. I asked a few ladies if they owned TVs, and they said they didn't - but when I asked them whether they had radios, the reply was: "Radio!!!  Aajkal vo kaun rakhta hai!" ("Radios? Who keeps those anymore?"). That was the first of many myths that Kho Gaon broke for me: In places where TV doesn't reach, radio is not always the alternate option - perhaps not even an option at all!  SLD team active during the event Children trained by Tarang giving a performance Then what to you do for entertainment, and how do you get information, I asked. The concept of leisure - taken so much for granted by urban middle class me - was an alien concept to everyone there, and the idea of being informed equally foreign. Someone retorted: "What will we do with information when our day is all about slogging hard to get a meal before we sleep?" This left me rattled! How did this little pocket of migrants, living less than 10 kilometres away from Gurgaon, India Shining's glass and steel boulevard of dreams, manage to remain ignorant of the power of being informed? So much for the Age of Information, I thought to myself. I walked towards the arena where SLD's Tarang team was performing. I saw that the men were standing in a circle around the performers and thoroughly enjoying the performance, while the women peeked from a distance.  Most of the men carried video enabled cellphones with which they were recording the event. And there was my answer: It was staring me in the face all the time - cellphones! I couldn't resist myself: I asked one of the men if I could just skim through his handset. And there was a different world of entertainment that lay hidden in their phones: Most of the handsets were not just video enabled, but packed to capacity with feature films and regional songs. A few could apparently even be connected to DVD players, or a projection system. (Whoa! These economy superphones sounded even smarter than the smart phones I was familiar with!) That's when I realized that often asking questions does not necessarily get you answers. Getting to know the people and their lives reveals much more. Also ideas around leisure, culture, entertainment and information are more complex than they are made out to be. Perhaps one of the reasons why the men standing around that nukkad natak did not care much for my questions regarding information was because the mediascape around them did not have their own voices or anything that was of relevance to them. So much to do, so little time… A view of the houses Ladies standing at a distance and watching the event People using their cellphones to record the event Spectators enjoying the performance Bhaskar Bhuyan, CR coordinator, and Manik Baruah, Asst. Programme Manager, C-NES, manage to fit in under the canopy! Village volunteer Ratnakanta Patir stands athwarts the boat Ideosync trainer Kriti Dheer uses her time creatively! Our mighty vessel! A Mishing villager on Dodhia chapori On Dodhia chapori. A Mishing stilt house in the background. A view of the gathered guests at the function (L to R) N.Ramakrishnan, Ideosync; Mario Mosquiera, UNICEF; Rajeshwari Chandrasekhar, UNICEF; Ranvir Prasad, DM, Lalitpur; Jugal Kishor, Bharatendu Natak Academi; (2nd row) CR reporters Mazboot, Kashiram, Devendra, Sitaram, Mansingh, Uma, Vidya, Rachna, S DM Ranvir Prasad addresses the gathering DM Ranvir Prasad unveils the inauguration memorial plaque (From L to R) P.N.Dixit, Distt.Coordinator, UNICEF; Rachana Sharma, BCC Specialist, UNICEF; Rajeshwari Chandrasekhar, Programme Manager, UNICEF; Jugal Kishire, Joint Director, Bharatendu Natak Academi; Mahendra Pratap Singh, Former Sarpanch, Alapur; Ranvi TheDM and other guests are interviewed for the live segment of the inaigural broadcast Bandana Dubey, Station in charge, addresses the assembly Ramvati Adivasi, Community Reporter, shares a few anecdotes UNICEF CFO for MP Tania Goldner addresses the gathering Shivpuri Collector Shri Rajkumar Pathak, launches the broadcast The live programme! (From L to R) Ms.Tania Goldner, UNICEF; Ms.Supriya Mukherji, UNICEF; Shri Surendra Tomar, Jt. Dir. WCD; Shri Rajkumar Pathak, District Collector, Shivpuri Community Reporter Champabai Adivasi records the inaugural broadcast