IIM Kashipur to set up a community radio station

Photo credit: pmarkham (www.flickr.com)

“Yeh hai aapka host aur dost Vikash Tulsian, IIM Kashipur community radio station se!” Such broadcasts will now be heard regularly at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Kashipur campus where students of both batches are gearing up to launch a community radio station which will reach people within a distance of 10 kms.

The main purpose of the community radio is to uplift the socio-economically disadvantaged community (locals) through information, education and communication. IIM Kashipur will be the first amongst the IIM fraternity to introduce a community radio station.

The concept of community radio stations has been popularised by a number of educational institutes including Delhi University, Jamia Milia University and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur. IIM Kashipur students consider IIT Kanpur and Jamia Milia University as their benchmarks for this program on which they began their research around six months ago.

“Since IIT Kanpur has been given a broadcasting spectrum of 10 kms, we also considered the same region while doing out initial research,” Vikash Tulsian, a first year student said. “The total population of the 75 villages in the 10 km radius is around 91, 031,” Vikash said. Advice on health, small scale industry development and education topped the chart on the areas of interest for these locals. “Initially, we will focus on these three ideas for programming,” Vikash added.

In addition, the b-school has already requested the team handling the community radio station at Jamia Milia University to help train students in all aspects of running a radio station, Dr KM Baharul Islam, Chairperson (Planning and Development) at IIM Kashipur said.

The six-member core student team that will be managing the project is planning to rope in professors, local doctors and even lawyers if any of the callers require legal advice. People will be provided a toll-free number where they can call and pose their questions to the experts. Students are also leaning towards promoting local Garhwali music during the initial few months of the radio launch, scheduled for the latter part of this year.

Thw six-member core community radio project team. From left to right: Sandeep Rana, Abhijeet Bansod, Vikash Tulsiyan, Dinesh Chandra Yalavarthy, Ankit Garg, Ankit Giri.

While programming will be managed completely by the students, they are yet unsure of who will take care of broadcasting the programs. “Our first priority has to be our studies. We may be able to manage upto two hours of broadcasting but if we decide to increase time of the original content every day, we may have to rope in a professional broadcaster,” Vikash said. IIT kanpur has also roped in professional broadcasters due to the same reasons, he added.

Although the institute is yet to receive its license from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Broadcast Engineering Consultants Private Limited (BECIL). The b-school has already started construction work for the radio setup in the campus. Dr Islam said that construction of the broadcasting room and recording studio will cost around Rs 25 lakhs. The required equipment will cost an additional Rs 27 lakhs. The initial cost of setting up the radio station will be incurred by IIM Kashipur, he added.

Questioned about the revenue model, Dr Islam said that according to government regulations, for every one hour of community radio broadcast, a station can have one hour of entertainment broadcasting. In addition, each entertainment broadcast hour can have ten minutes of paid advertising. “Initially we will have only community programming. Later on, we can have entertainment programming as well. Then the revenue model will depend upon government advertisements and even private advertising, based upon the marketing skills of the students,” he added.

So, how will setting up a radio station help management students? To this, Dr Islam said that the institute is planning to launch an elective titled Media and Entertainment Business. Entertainment industry is a huge market in the country and management students should have knowledge about this branch as well. “Setting up a radio station is the first step in this direction,” he said.

However, Vikash had a different perspective. According to him, setting up a radio station is completely a student initiative. “We are learning how to manage a project at a large level, interacting with thousands of people and delivering their requirements,” he said. The six-member core team will involve the entire batch in the process as well. “Every week, we have a discussion session where the batch is asked to give in suggestions for what they feel would attract local people. This will involve the entire student fraternity at the institute and help the project become a success,” he concluded.

Some basic facts about the community radio station operated by IIT Kanpur.

IIT Kanpur started its community radio station at 90.4 megahertz in 2010. The station braodcasts a total of four hours of original programming each day (2 hours every morning and evening). The morning programming includes a tip of the day and Uttar Pradesh folk music. The evening programs focus more on social issues, entrepreneur talks, interviews with experts on various fields including education, healthcare and law.