Sunday, December 11, 2011

Indigenous People's Community Radio in West Borneo

This community radio is very simple, with no sophisticated equipment such as computers or laptops. A VCD player is used to broadcast songs, drama, and other programmes. But despite its simple operation Radio Sunia Nawangi has got a lot of listeners.

Radio Sunia Nawangi was founded eight years ago and is located in Tunang village in Bengkayang district in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. People in this region have limited access to information be it television or radio. The existence of Radio Sunia Nawangi has helped people gain access to information.

“It is very difficult to receive radio broadcasts in our village, so we often lack important information. Therefore, residents took the initiative to establish a radio that can be enjoyed by everyone through funds collected from villagers, "said Yohanes, 41-years-old, an announcer at Radio Sunia Nawangi. “All the programmes are presented in Dayak language.”

Dayak is the native tribe of Kalimantan Island living in its various regions. The listeners of radio Sunai Nawangi are from the indigenous community of Dayak. Some of them live in very remote areas in the interior of Borneo. Kalimantan or commonly called Borneo is the  largest island in Indonesia and because of its large territory; there are many areas still with limited access to information. Many people are unable to watch news on television or read newspapers. Television does not reach the  interiors because of lack of relay stations and newspapers cannot be afforded by all people living in the interiors.

Radio is the only medium that is cheap and easily accessible to the residents. Many rural  residents have a radio receivers. But, the problem is there are only a few radio stations that broadcasts in the region and hence the existence of this community radio is very meaningful for the people living there.

The source of funding comes from sale of listener cards. "One-card is sold for three thousand rupiah (0.30 US$). Cards give listeners a sense of ownership of radio,” explained Abbas, the Manager of Radio Sunia Nawangi.

Despite limited funds, Radio Sunia Nawangi is able to survive. Of course, managers have to be very creative to make ends meet with the limited resources. "For example we have not been able to afford computers till now but it does not matter because we still use tape recorder and VCD to play music. The former church building is used as our studio and have assembled all the equipment
by ourselves," added Abbas.

Meanwhile, the staffs work on a voluntary basis. “I don’t have a monthly salary but it’s not a problem for me,” explained Yohanes, one of the staff. According to Yohanes, the listenership is continuously increasing - not only from the Tunang village but also from other districts. "We receive listener’s cards from residents of other places such as Landak. Sometimes we wonder how they are able to listen to our radio in places so far away," Yohanes added.

People usually  gather in one place to listen to the radio together. Sometimes people bring radio receivers to the field and listen to it while working. The programmes offer a variety of local contents, including traditions and culture. "It makes sharing information easy for us,” Yohannes said.

Those who claim that radio needs big investment and sophisticated equipment, Radio Sunia Nawangi proves that it is able to survive with very limited resources. What keeps Radio Sunia Nawangi on air is their unity and spirit of voluntarism.**

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