If the radio is re-emerging as a popular medium in Chennai, then it probably makes sense to board that vehicle to send messages out to the public.

That is precisely what Unicef has done. In order to leverage the power of the radio to create awareness on child rights and to influence public policy related to children, the international organisation is looking at sensitising staff at private FM radio stations in Chennai.

Engaging personnel

The programme engaged radio jockeys, producers and other programme personnel at FM radio stations to understand issues concerning children and their rights in India. While presenting the rights of children from a life cycle perspective, the Unicef team spoke about how radio stations can embed messaging on child rights in their content.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s 2012 estimates indicate that 245 private FM radio stations are reaching millions of listeners across socio-economic classes in India, making radio the most potent medium for entertainment, information and education.

The interactive session presented an overview of the child rights scenario in India, Unicef’s approach to the situation and potential programming and partnership opportunities with FM radio.

‘Immense potential’

Dr. Satish Kumar, chief, Unicef state office for Tamil Nadu and Kerala, pointed out that: “FM radio has immense potential for influencing public opinion and creating a movement for child rights through their interactive programming.

The partnership with radio stations through the Association of Radio Operators for India (AROI) is about facilitating platforms for voices of India’s empowered youth to reach key decision makers.”

Through real-life case studies, the radio stations explored options on how they could mainstream messaging on child labour, marriage, abuse and education and legal issues involving children as a part of their regular programming.

It turns out the RJs themselves are very confident about the power they hold in shaping opinion. Radio One RJ Keerthi says, “Radio does have the ability to spread a message subtly”. Chennai Live’s Prem admitted that the issues of child labour and abuse were at the back of his mind. But the workshop will now help him prioritise these concerns.

Road shows too

These programmes will air on FM channels in Chennai soon. Besides information capsules, quizzes and road shows are also part of the package, according to Unicef’s communication officer Sonia Sarkar.

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