On August 15, 2014, Bol Hyderabad 90.4 FM, the community radio station of the University of Hyderabad (UoH) celebrated its third anniversary of going on air. As a community radio station situated on a University campus where some pioneering work on community radio (CR) in India has been, and continues to be carried out, the journey of Bol sends out mixed signals with respect to its success and practices vis-à-vis some of the core principles that define the sector.
Over this period, Bol has developed a wide variety of interesting programmes with innovative content ideas, appealing taglines, and catchy titles such as Sheher ke Mashoor Adde, Caught in Passing, Poetry Mohalla, Woh Kal is Pal, Airing Books, Katha Corner and Ulti-Evenings etc. The format followed is one of discussions and information interspersed with entertainment. The programmes are produced in English, Hindi, Telugu & Urdu. Bol Hyderabad 90.4 FM has a broadcast radius of 15 kilometres and caters not solely to the university students but also to the diverse community within and outside the UoH campus.
However, the programme production process in Bol has remained limited to and in the hands of a few motivated students and faculty within the department of Communication (where it is housed) and extends at best to their contacts and acquaintances. While the mandate of the station is to follow an open door policy and bring in more and more people from all walks of life, the inclusivity quotient of Bol has not been very high and there is a want for diversity of voices and talent in its programmes.
The raison d’être of a community radio is to enable the people residing within its coverage area to engage in media activity. Such a robust culture of community engagement and participation is still conspicuous by its absence in Bol. One cannot overlook the efforts that are on by Bol to propel the participation of the larger university fraternity and the community through open houses, capacity building workshops, and programmes such as Community Connect and the more recent Quiz shows. But, the fact remains, that a lot more needs to be done to make Bol a radio ‘of’ the community and ‘by’ the community and not just ‘for’ the community.