An article on Coimbatore’s first community radio PSG Community Radio following a visit to its station situated at the campus of PSG College of Technology.
By Suriya Narayanan D (B.E.Mechanical, 2017-2021)
‘Vanakkam, Neengal kaetu kondu iruppadhu 107.8’ in Arul Neram’. This voice does the work of the sun, waking up many of the residents in Coimbatore city. The busy picture of the city is indeed incomplete without the sound of community radios in the background. PSG Community Radio is one of the twenty four CRs in Tamil Nadu and the first among the three in the city. The decade-old CR strives to serve the community with its social-friendly and classic shows that are relished by a mass of followers. THE BRIDGE presents you with an outline on PSGCR and how their shows are cooked before they go live.
The foundation for the station was laid by PSG & Sons’ Charities supported by Dr.R.Rudramoorthy, Principal, PSG College of Technology. Following the application for the setting up of the station to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in September 2005, the ministry approved it and assigned the frequency 107.8 MHz in January 2007. A station consisting of a Discussion-Recording studio, an Editing suite and a Live Studio was set up at the campus of PSG College of Technology (J Block, Ground Floor). The Community Radio went on air for the first time on 15th December, 2007. Initially, it went live from 06.00 to 08.00 both during morning and evening making it four hours a day. Over the years, it has witnessed growth in many respects and today, they stream shows in the morning from 06:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and in the evening from 06:00 p.m. to 08:00 p.m.
PSGCR targets all people, from the age of 8 to 80 years. As per a listeners’ survey by Commonwealth Education Media Centre for Asia, PSGCR is able to reach about 24.4% of the population in its coverage area during its broadcast hours.. There are programmes that are constantly followed by a large number of listeners. Here are some:
a. Ula Manjari (9.00 p.m, daily) and Yennangalin Yezhuchi (8.30 p.m, daily): These shows present lectures by eminent scholars in and around Coimbatore.
b. Radio Hub Students Exclusive Live Show (05.30 p.m to 06.30 p.m, daily): These shows were introduced in association with the Radio Hub, a club of PSG College of Technology. Students from Radio Hub work as radio jockeys in these live shows. The recorded version of these shows is rebroadcast from 10.00 a.m. to 11 a.m.
c. Special shows (Saturdays and Sundays)
d. Tea time show (06.00 pm, Monday-Saturday) a show by the students of Radio Hub on all days except Sundays. Tea time shows are designed primarily for the students to develop their innate skills. These shows mend listeners’ sharpness, kindle their presence of mind, improve their presentation skills, widen their knowledge in many subjects, richness on current affairs, develop their personality and mould their character.
We paid a visit to the studio and had a discussion with the technical crew to know about the actual process in work before the shows reach our radio antennas. Mr.J.Praveen Chandar, one of the production assistants of PSGCR says, “Each live show is the coordinate work of seven teams. The preproduction team prepares the script of the show and the Radio Jockey team is the main chef of the show. Creation of posters and promotional videos is done by the Creativity and the Publicity teams; the Production & Recording team records the show, the show is telecast live on social media by the Cinematography team. The Administration team supervises all the mentioned operations.”
Any community radio is expected to provide its local listeners with up-to-date news and edutainment, promoting community welfare at the same time. PSGCR follows a number of strategies to meet the expectations of the listening community and increase its follower count. Firstly, except for the main programmes like Ula Manjari and Yennangalin Yezhuchi, the other programmes are given as five or ten minute capsules as people in the rocket-age lack patience and time to listen to longer duration programmes. To boost their reach, they invite the listeners to participate in programmes. In addition to this, they reach out to their audience through other different means like live streaming and intensive promotion by the RH members over social media.
The other important task is to train radio jockeys to meet the followers’ expectation. Some of the programmes such as Valai Vaachu, Sindhipom Seyalpaduvom, Naalai Namadhe, Ninaivalaigal, Ketpom Suvaippom, Karam Saram Idhu Sirikkira Neram, Naam Kadandhu Vandha Paadhai, Every Day Science, Ungalai Thedi, Sendru Paarpom and Thozhirpettai are exclusively tailored to train RJs as experts.
Notably, there are certain constraints that CRs are under, such as the limited transmitting power and antenna height. As per the norms of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the height of the transmitting antenna is restricted to 30 meters from the ground level and the transmitting power is restricted to 50 watts. With these limitations, CRs are unable to broadcast over a large area and compete with other mainstream FM radios. If the transmitting power increases to at least 250 watts and the height to 50 meters, they can enjoy a better coverage through terrestrial transmission.
When asked about other issues faced, Mr.B.Chandrasekaran (Director, PSGCR) says, “From the invention of radio communication to this date, broadcasting is taken care of manually. To operate a community radio station with limited human resources and funds, we have no choice but to run the radio station only for a limited period of time. In order to overcome this scenario and to achieve maximum utilization of the community radio stations, a project was assigned to the students of Robotics and Automation department of PSG College of Technology to develop a device to remotely monitor and control the transmission and broadcasting, called the GSM Enabled Totally Automated Radio Broadcast Device”. The device is expected to be able to take care of the entire transmission with SMS based control along with remote supervision and periodic status updates.
“Since PSGCR is an organic radio station recycling itself every year (as student and community volunteers come and go), it is vital that there is a forward-looking policy document as a point of reference and continuity”, he adds.
Community Radios play a great role in maintaining the cultural identity of a community and attempts to improve the values of the society. Substantial shrinking of the listener base due to the digital trend has adverse effects on CR’s functioning. The interference of internet media may tend to decrease the follower-number, but appropriate solution lies in making use of the same to pursue their existence. PSG Community Radio, in that respect, has a staunch commitment towards presenting shows that remain fresh and updated without missing the track of its motto ‘The voice of the folks.’ THE BRIDGE wholeheartedly wishes PSG Community Radio great success ahead and hopes for its persistent recognition and growth in the society.
SURIYA NARAYANAN D (B.E.MECHANICAL, 2017-2021) is an art wizard finessing pencil sketches and crayon arts. He is fond of books dealing with science and religion. He is conscientious on his work and has a dream to work on drone technology.
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