Thursday, April 5, 2012

The one to watch: Radio, new ICTs and interactivity

Editor: Bruce Girard

Publisher: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with Freidrich Ebert Foundation

Page: vii+156

Edited by Bruce Girard, the book, “The one to watch: Radio, new ICTs and interactivity” is a collection of essays and reports which describes the flexibility, effectiveness and reach of radio, and it’s potential for synergy with the Internet. Focussing on the use of the Internet by radio stations in their efforts to support democratic and sustainable development, the book provides insights and experiences of the successful symbiosis between the two, i.e. radio and internet.

From other angle, this book can also be viewed as an effort to rediscover and reprove the importance of radio, this time with the help of internet. In the scenario when television, being even more appealing medium with the use text, photo, audio, video, and animations, was thriving to take away all its audience from radio, this book tries to find out a way out of the competition. So, this book should also be taken as a work for revitalizing radio in the contemporary world where it was forced to compete with television and internet. Thus, "Radio Rediscovered", might have been an equally appropriate title for this book.

Grouped into five sections, there are seventeen chapters in the book.

The five chapters in the first section provide an overview of the development of radio and internet and explain how radio and the internet are being used together in various development and democratic communication projects. For example, the chapter Public Radio and the Internet in the United States, provides three examples of how the Internet and radio complement each other.

Likewise, the four chapters in the second section examine different models working for the combination of radio and internet, from different perspectives. The chapter, Community Media Centres: Creating digital opportunities for all, examines the concept of community media centres (CMCs) as developed by UNESCO and looks at two examples of CMCs in Sri Lanka and Mali. Similarly, the chapter, The Kothmale Model: Using radio to make the Internet visible, look at the same CMC introduced in the previous chapter from a different perspective and explains how the radio station besides serving as information agent also heightens community awareness of the Internet.

Similarly, the three chapters in the third section are case studies of three Internet-enabled radio networking projects: one national, one regional, and one global. Awakening from the Big Sleep, tells the story of Radio 68H, a news network that links radio stations in Indonesia, a country that present a variety of challenges to any communication projects. In the same way, the chapter, The Agencia Informativa Púlsar explains how and why the agency Agencia Informativa Púlsar was set up which liked almost 800 local radio stations to internet. Moving to the global level, Francesca Silvani’s chapter, InterWorld Radio: The kind of thing that connects you to the world, describes daily news and audio feature service for radio stations provided by the Panos Institute and OneWorld International.

In the fourth section, the chapter Blending Old and New Technologies: Mexico’s indigenous radio service messages, looks at how this service is being enhanced and extended by the Internet, allowing people to receive broadcast messages from friends and families thousands of kilometres away. Likewise another chapter Callos and Guatitas: Radio and Migration in Ecuador and Spain, describes a situation in which radio and ICTs are being used to connect Ecuadorian migrants in Spain with their home communities.

At the end, the last section of the book includes three chapters with information that is particularly useful to readers unfamiliar with rural radio and the essential role it plays in people’s lives. The chapter, Farm and Rural Radio in the USA: Some beginnings and models, provides an overview of the last eighty years of rural radio in the United States. Likewise, the chapter, After 50 years: The role and use of rural radio in Africa, provides the history of rural radio and explain how a state owned rural radio transformed into a local community-based model. Finally, Bruce Girard’s chapter, Radio Chaguarurco: Now we’re not alone, is an intimate look at the political, cultural and social role of a rural radio station.

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