Sharmila Sharma, the station manager at Gurgaon’s community-driven radio station, Gurgaon Ki Awaaz, broadcast on 107.8 MHz FM, has been quite proud of the channel’s achievements since it began in November 2009. The music it features is folk only and one can hear ballads in Haryanvi, Bhojpuri and other dialects, while the targeted audience includes local villagers and migrant workers.
A major chunk of the topics includes shows on issues that generally aren’t very comfortable for people in a public forum. Be it sexual health, mental health, adolescence, women’s rights and the transgender community, here one can share their personal stories. “Those kind of stories are not happening in the visual medium, because you are constantly being judged,” says station director Arti Jaiman. For instance, their health programme Chahat Chowk allows couples to discuss sexual and reproductive health while remaining anonymous. Its latest collaboration with Society for Service to Voluntary Agencies (SOSVA) for an upcoming series aims to discuss the social exclusion of the transgender community, to delve into how and why they are forced to leave home and how they too yearn for love like everybody else.
Set up by the NGO, The Restoring Force (TRF), which works towards the empowerment of marginalised communities, the radio station celebrated its 10th birthday at its office (pictured) in Electronic City in Gurgaon on Sunday. With four reporters, Sharma, 45, believes that the radio station with over six lakh listeners has brought in a new wave, with drivers comprising a majority of the listeners. Their show Diary Ke Panne draws inspiration from the simple act of writing diary entries, where listeners introspect on the therapeutic effect of writing, and observe how the life of people changes once they read it after a long time. There is also a show for drivers and is titled Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi. The shows highlight the importance of community radio, through a channel that caters to many villages in and around Gurgaon, including Mullahera, Chakkarpur, Sikanderpur and Nathupur. Jaiman says, “What is their music, what are they cooking, what are their key concerns, their own history, what was Gurgaon in the ’60s and ’80s, the first selling of land and changes in their music? When we had started, we had made a conscious choice that the team is going to be from the community. If you have to be a radio programme for everyone, there has to be an English programme, Hindi programme, Bollywood and English music. But this community of Haryana has been ignored by us. We are not even aware of the very rich Haryanvi culture, or the folk music of all the migrant communities that live and work here, which are in lakhs.”