A bicycle mechanic, Raghav, recently made waves by sending radio waves from his small shop at Mansurpur village in Vaishali district. The "Radio Raghav" FM station was an instant hit among people residing within 10 km radius of Mansurpur village.
Now, realising that radio is a powerful mediun to interact with the masses at the grassroots level, the state government is seriously planning to launch its own FM stations — community radio stations (CRSs). The state government has already prepared a pilot project with the help of IIM students. The technological know-how is being prepared by students of IIT (Kanpur) and IIT (Mumbai).
To begin with, the state government has selected 10 schools of Patna and Nalanda districts to operate these FM stations. These schools would transmit the programmes, the contents of which would be prepared and developed at the Soochana Bhavan. The government would help these schools in obtaining FM frequency from the information and broadcasting ministry. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, during his visit to IIM (Ahmedabad) in November, 2006, had talked to some of the students there and had asked them to prepare a blue print for community radio stations. Nitish had said such radio stations would bridge the gap between the state headquarters and the villages, by using cost-effective means of information through entertainment.
State information and public relations department (IPRD) secretary Vivek Singh, who is monitoring the creation of community radio stations, told TOI that it would be a powerful medium to communicate with the people. The IPRD secretary said the IIM team, comprising management professor Rajnish Sinha and IIM (Ahmedabad) students Kaushlendra, Abhishek, Irfan and Rahul, has worked out the financial viability. These students have also given presentation before the secretaries of different departments, including MM Jha (HRD), Anup Mukherjee (rural development) and special secretary (CM secretariat) Chanchal Kumar.
According to the plan, the schools will be stake-holders while the principals concerned would be presidents of the school community radio stations. Though the initial cost of setting up a transmission centre is estimated between Rs 5-6 lakh, the IPRD secretary said, students of IIT (Kanpur) and IIT (Mumbai) are being approached so that the transmission cost could be reduced.
The state government is planning to set up 800-1,000 community radio stations, having services in Bhojpuri, Magahi, Vajjika, Maithili and Angika.