What is Community Radio?

What is it that makes a radio station a community radio station?

Perhaps the best way to answer this is in the words of AMARC's members: ''Community radio, rural radio, cooperative radio, participatory radio, free radio, alternative, popular, educational radio. If the radio stations, networks and production groups that make up the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters refer to themselves by a variety of names, then their practices and profiles are even ore varied. Some are musical, some militant and some mix music and militancy. They are located in isolated rural villages and in the heart of the largest cities in the world. Their signals may reach only a kilometer, cover a whole country or be carried via shortwave to other parts of the world. Some stations are owned by not-for-profit groups or by cooperatives whose members are the listeners themselves. Others are owned by students, universities, municipalities, churches or trade unions. There are stations financed by donations from listeners, by international development agencies, by advertising and by governments.'' "Waves for Freedom". Report on the Sixth World Conference of Community Radio Broadcasters. Dakar, Senegal, January 23-39, 1995 _____________________________________________________________________

''When radio fosters the participation of citizens and defends their interests; when it reflects the tastes of the majority and makes good humour and hope its main purpose; when it truly informs; when it helps resolve the thousand and one problems of daily life; when all ideas are debated in its programs and all opinions are respected; when cultural diversity is stimulated over commercial homogeneity; when women are main players in communication and not simply a pretty voice or a publicity gimmick; when no type of dictatorship is tolerated, not even the musical dictatorship of the big recording studios; when everyone's words fly without discrimination or censorship, that is community radio. Radio stations that bear this name do not fit the logic of money or advertising. Their purpose is different, their best efforts are put at the disposal of civil society. Of course this service is highly political: it is a question of influencing public opinion, denying conformity, creating consensus, broadening democracy. The purpose - whence the name - is to build community life.'' "Manual urgente para Radialistas Apasionados". José Ignacio Lopez Vigil. 1997 _____________________________________________________________________

''The historical philosophy of community radio is to use this medium as the voice of the voiceless, the mouthpiece of oppressed people (be it on radial, gender, or class grounds) and generally as a tool for development.''  Community radio is defined as having three aspects: non-profit making, community ownership and control, community participation.  ''It should be made clear that community radio is not about doing something for the community but about the community doing something for itself, ie. owning and controlling its own means of communication.'' "What is Community Radio? A resource guide". AMARC Africa and Panos Southern Africa. 1998 _____________________________________________________________________

''In Latin America, there are approximately one thousand radio stations that can be considered community, educational, grassroots or civic radio stations. They are characterized by their political objectives of social change, their search for a fair system that takes into account human rights, and makes power accessible to the masses and open to their participation. They can also be recognized by the fact that they are non-profit. This does not prevent them from growing and seeking a place in the market ''Community and civic radio is defined by the community of shared interests it represents and by the coherent political-cultural, communication and business objectives of these same interests.''  Community and civic radio incorporates new languages, new formats, other sounds, types of music, voices. It brings other ways of talking, new relationships with listeners, ways of asking and answering questions, ways of making demands and pressuring the authorities.'' "Gestión de la radio comunitaria y ciudadana". Claudia Villamayor y Ernesto Lamas. AMARC y Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. 1998. _____________________________________________________________________

''Radio stations that practice radio broadcasting as a community service and see communication as a universal right. That seek to build a common path to support one another and strengthen our people's communication. Radio stations that see themselves as an integral part of the community in which they participate. As media, they develop pluralistic and participatory communication that is open to the need for expression of the social and cultural sectors with less access to exclusively commercial media. That exercise the right to communication and, particularly, the right to information. That exercise radio broadcasting as a service, and not simply as a commercially profitable activity.'' Federacion Argentina de Radios Comunitarias, FARCO. Argentina. _____________________________________________________________________

Community radio in the commercially dominated media system community radio means radio in the community, for the community, about the community and by the community. There is a wide participation from regular community members with respect to management and production of programs. This involvement of community members distinguishes it from the dominant commercial media in the Philippines that are operated for PPPP - profit, propaganda, power, politics, privilege, etc. Serving the big P (people or public) is a token gesture mainly to justify existence in the government bureaucratic licensing procedures. ''Stations collectively operated by the community people. Stations dedicated to development, education and people empowerment. Stations which adhere to the principles of democracy and participation. TAMBULI - Communication Project. Philippines ____________________________________________________________________

''Free, independent, lay radio stations that are linked to human rights and concerned about the environment. They are many and pluralistic. They refuse mercantile communication. They scrupulously respect the code of ethics of journalists and work to disseminate culture by giving artists broader expression within their listening audiences. They have association status, democratic operation and financing consistent with the fact that they are non-profit organizations. They are solidarity toward each other and constitute work communities that make it possible for each member to fulfill its mission to the utmost.'' Charte de la Confédêration Nationale des Radios Libres, CNRL. France. _____________________________________________________________________

''Firstly, Community Radio is characterised by the active participation of the community in the process of creating news, information, entertainment and culturally relevant material, with an emphasis on local issues and concerns. With training, local producers can create programmes using local voices. The community can also actively participate in the management of the station and have a say in the scheduling and content of the programmes. Secondly, it is essentially a non-profit enterprise. In these days of highly commercialised broadcasting, the ethos of community radio remains independence and responsibility to serve the community, not the advertiser. As the station is owned by the community, it also maintains some responsibility in the running of the station. Thirdly, community radio programming is designed by the community, to improve social conditions and the quality of its cultural life. The community itself decides what its priorities and needs are in terms of information provision.'' VOICES. India. _____________________________________________________________________

''Over the years, community radio has become an essential tool for community development. People can recognize themselves and identify with community radio, in addition to communicating among themselves. Community radio is a cultural broadcast mechanism that adapts perfectly to the context of French Canadians. Its airwaves reflect the cultural reality  songs, music, writing of the French-speaking population it serves. Community radio stations are the best standard-bearers of our culture. ''The tone of each community radio station is well modulated in the image of its listeners. The important thing is to seek out differences. Community radio is an element of closeness, a bridge, a step toward the other, not to make the other like us, but to have him become what he is. It is not a question of having more, but of being, that is the real mission of community radio stations in Canada. Isn't the most meaningful definition of culture the act of making people aware of the greatness they possess?'' Alliance des radios communautaires du Canada, ARC. Canada.