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VIDEO: Building Community Radio

Phea Mom, 40, is collecting her rice in front of her home in Kampong Chhnang’s Anh Chanh Roung Commune. Besides the sound of her collecting rice, another noticeable one is the sound of an old blace radio hung on a bamboo tree next to her working place.

For Phea, listening to the radio while working is her routine.

“I like most of the community radio’s programs because I find it informative. I obviously gain much knowledge from reports they aired,” she said.

According to Phea, agriculture and safe village programs are the most poplar ones among listeners.

She said she preferred the agriculture program because the information from program helped her rice yield increase respectively.

Despite the advent of new medium, the replacement of old media is not a widespread phenomenon.

According to Cambodia Center for Human Rights (CCHR)’s report in 2013, radio is an  effective and powerful medium that can be used to raise awareness and increase understanding of listeners. In Cambodia, radio is still an effective medium conveying valuable news and information to peoples in the rural and remote areas.

About 10 kilometers from Boribo district on the dirt road locates a mall building which is a shared workplace between a learning center and a community radio station.

Kim Seng, a former member of Anh Chanh Roung commune councilor, is now serving as head of the Community Development and Learning Center (CDLC), a center that provides regular training to the community. Kim is also the founder of CDLC.

Kim said the local authorities hardly solved any community problems before the radio station was run in July 2010.

“For the sake of whole community, I quitted my earlier job to immediately form CDLC, which suported by a NGO called Building Community Voice (BCV)” he said.

A joint effort of both CDLC and BCV is means to officially have the community radio.

Un Tann, deputy commune chief of Anh Chanh Roung commune, said radio programs were significant to partially help his commune and it was good to have one since it might be a sample for other communes.

“Radio programs are very effective,” he said. “Community problems including domestic violence and gangsters have decreased after the existing of radio.”

A so-called Anh Chanh Roung community radio station is run by solar system with only 100Amh battery. It is equipped with eight-meter antenna and a transmitter that can cover on 15KW.

“Due to shortage of power supply, we could air only three hours per day with three separate shifts including news and radio drama,” said Oum Yun, a program producer of the radio station.

To successfully produce a radio program, the team usually has a regular newsroom meeting among the staff, all of whom are volunteers.

“We raise and discus certain topics and issues happening in the community,” Oum said, adding, “to be professional, the majority of our contributors are trained by BCV… Some of them are smart and potential.”

Though there are shortage in both human resources and financial supports, the radio station continues the scheduled broadcast and plays an important role in informing and educating the community about good governance through various programs.

Set up in 2010, the local radio station has not officially licensed by the Ministry of Information yet. However, with years of testing broadcast, it practically plays a crucial role in contributing to positive changes in the rural community.

Up to now, there are no official studies indicating the exact number of listeners of the community radio. However, Kim said years of monitoring showed that about sixty percent of local communities were happy to have regular airing.

Phea is a huge fan of the community radio since it was established. She positively finds herself change after listening to to it for years.

“I call for more educational programs and the broadcasting time should be longer,” she said.