The One to WatchRadio 2.0 for development collects experiences and ideas about combining community and independent radio with other information and communication technologies for democracy and development. It is a project of Comunica. Comment on the blog entries or email your contributions to blog2 (at) comunica (dot) org.

Twenty years ago a group of tech savvy Salvadorans and Canadians undertook a project combining radio broadcasting and new ICTs to help bring about social and political change in Central America. Once a week a computer equipped with a 1200 bps modem would automatically call a similarly equipped computer in Nicaragua and in less than three minutes would download a zip file with a dozen or so pages of news prepared by the Salvadorean guerrilla station, Radio Farabundo Martí. Once in Canada, the information was printed and faxed or sent by post to a network of community and student radio stations in Canada and the USA, providing hundreds of thousands of listeners with up-to-date news and analysis of Central America’s struggles from the perspective of the revolutionary movements and helping to build and strengthen solidarity between them and progressive movements in North America.

As the internet became more widely accessible, radio stations across the developing world have discovered ways of combining it with broadcasting in projects oriented at promoting social change and development.

  • Research: Broadcasters who used to have to travel for hours or even days to find a public library to research a programme, turned to the internet as a research tool. A pioneering example was Kothmale FM (Sri Lanka) which developed “radio browsing”, but the use of the internet for research is now common among local and community radio stations;
  • News exchange: National, regional and global radio news agencies were making world news and alternative perspectives available to all but the most remote communities. For example, in 1996 the Púlsar news agency started up as a regional news service for local, independent and community radio stations in Latin America, providing an alternative to CNN and the major news agencies based in the USA or Europe. Now run by AMARC, the agency provides text and audio news to hundreds of radio stations in Spanish and Portuguese;
  • Migration: The radio/telecommunications combination was helping to keep communities together, despite the distances imposed by migration. Callos y Guatitas, a programme produced and broadcast simultaneously in Ecuador and Spain is an example of this.

The above examples, and others, are discussed in the book The One to Watch: Radio, New ICTs and Interactivity.

A lot has happened in the five years since that book was published.

  • More stations in developing countries are connected to the internet, many of them with broadband connections;
  • Podcasts, blogs, wikis, and a host of “Web 2.0” applications are hailed as promoting a new era of citizens journalism and open source reporting;
  • Mobile telephony use has grown and phones are now capable of doing much more than voice. About 3 billion people, half the world’s population, are phone users worldwide and the fastest growing markets are in rural areas of the developing world.

This blog is intended as a space for practitioners and researchers to share experiences and ideas about combining radio and other information and communication technologies in what we call Radio 2.0 for development.

The Radio 2.0 for development blog is a project of Comunica and is maintained by Bruce Girard. Comment on the blog entries or email your contributions to blog2(at)comunica(dot)org.

Radio 2.0 for development uses WordPress and a modified K2 theme. The header photo is adapted from a Creative Commons photo by “gyst” on flickr.

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