Two of this week’s assigned readings (Farm Radio International “The new age of radio” and Mary Myers’: “Why Radio Matters”) highlighted the importance of radio in maintaining communications across developing nations. Similarly, they also discussed the utility of Internet and it’s role in effectively improving radio broadcasts.
“While the benefits offered by the Internet are many, its dependence on a telecom infrastructure means that they are only available to a few. Radio is much more pervasive, accessible and affordable. Blending the two could be an ideal way of ensuring that the benefits accruing from the Internet have wider reach.” -Bruce Girard, Converging Responsibility
Here are some benefits to coupling radio & Internet:
1. Internet Research can boost the informational quality of radio broadcasts
Farm Radio International discussed how Internet could facilitate the research necessary in creating informative broadcasts. Especially for specific topics such as improved farming techniques or irrigation practices, integrated pest management methods or marketing strategies for improving profits.
2. Internet can assist in information dispersal
New technologies such as solar powered mp3s and digital recorders were another method to compiling a record of past broadcasts. In efforts to save time, money and manpower, these recorded broadcasts can be sent to community partners to be repeated at different locations, to different audiences.
3. Radio already has a widespread base in rural communities
From the ease of its accessibility, radio has a strong base in many rural areas. In fact, call-in sessions are sometimes used as methods of contacting relatives or friends who may live more distantly. Also, since setting up Internet cafes and telecentres have often failed, especially in rural areas, having a couple of computers with Internet connection may be a more fruitful way to gradually introduce the opportunities of internet to communities.
4. Internet can make radiobroadcasting operations more cost-effective
Many broadcasting sessions require some form of external communication when contacting locals or subject specialists to interview on various topics. Internet capabilities in a radio station could significantly reduce costs of having station phones and phone cards by using programs such as Skype. Although it can by no means replace on-site visits, it can significantly reduce the travel costs.
Overall, I believe that the already vast capabilities of radio technology could be widened even further if they were coupled with Internet. Also, since radio stations are a pretty common concept, integrating computer technology into this type of a setting would be a much more realistic and logical pathway than to simply set up cyber cafes or telecentres.