While Mumbai University (MU) has been in the news for the record delay in announcement of results and missing answersheets, many other campus issues have been put on the back-burner. MU’s community FM radio, launched nine years ago, has gone off air for almost a year.
In an RTI reply to activist Anil Galgali, MU stated that the FM community radio service of the university is currently not on air, as a new transmitter is being acquired. “The old transmitter, which was in service for about nine years, needed to be replaced and the appropriate procedure is being followed. Hence, the service is not functional temporarily,” said a senior MU official.
The initial budget allocation for setting up the radio station in 2006 was Rs 25 lakh, of which Rs 22.8 lakh was spent on installation and equipment. Known as Radio Must and aired on the frequency 107.8, the radio station was established in February 2008 and had recurring expenses of Rs 12 lakh annually.
The station stopped functioning last year. The radio broadcast was available within a 15-km range and to more than 20 lakh students. It was also available worldwide on the internet. The radio station was managed by the students with faculty members setting up the guidelines.
At a time when MU students were waiting anxiously for their results, delayed by the onscreen assessment this year, the radio station could have perhaps addressed their queries. However, its range, faculty members feel, should be widened when the service is restored.
Dr Sunder Rajdeep, faculty at the department of communication and journalism, said: “The radio station would not have helped much during the results chaos as its range does not reach far-off places like Thane, Kalyan, Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri. It’s only confined within the campus. It needs an upgrade in order to reach all students and colleges affiliated to Mumbai University. Then it could have played a major role in reaching out to people with updates of evaluation and results announcement.”
The programmes on community Radio Must was a combination of information and entertainment. The famous “Munna Bhai” character was used as a platform to give tips on management studies, maintaining the character’s swagger and slang.
Soon after it started, the MU community radio initiative took the student community by storm, as it kept them updated with things happening in and around the campus.
“The campus radio was launched when I was studying and staying on the campus. It helped keep us updated. It was not some glamorous radio station, but was for students and by students. Sad it is off air for months,” said Akash Krishnamurthy, a former student.
Another former student and lawyer, Manoj Tekade, said: “This is what happens when the university implements initiatives without proper planning. This is not the first time an initiative started by the university stopped functioning. A tech-savvy van called Mobile Knowledge Resource Centre, inaugurated in 2014 to give internet access to college students in remote areas, too, does not seem to be functional. There should be a long-term planning before introducing or implementing any initiative, which MU lacks,” said Tekade.