On The Road

Occasional ramblings from a rambling journalist

Field trial is on air

The FIRST Response field trial participants endured a 14-hour bumpy bus ride, equipment glitches and power cuts to arrive in Nagapattinam (Tamil Nadu) at 5am on Saturday morning, a few hours later than scheduled.  They quickly set up their equipment (including attaching the antennae to a drain pipe on the roof).  The FM station was live on air by 6:30am and they received their first telephone call from a listener about 7:15am, quite surprisingly.

FIRST Response participants arrive in Nagapattinam

Soon after the station had stabilised, participants went into the field to collect interviews from local people for both the FM and shortwave English, Hindi and Bangla services.  While the FM station is live in Tamil, focussing on disaster preparedness, while working under simulated emergency conditions, the Shortwave teams are focussing on the current flooding in North East India.

FIRST Response team interview locals

 VIEW VIDEOS by clicking the links below

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  • The head of the Asia-Pacific branch of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), Ashish Sen, says the FIRST Response training taking place in Bangalore this week is “the first step in the journey towards introducing mobile broadcasting in India for disaster management”.   He was speaking to participants on the first day of the workshop which will culminate in a field trial in Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu.  Ashish, who is also head of the Community Radio lobby group, VOICES, believes that community radio will be a powerful force for the development of communities in India and that they are on the threshold of the first station being granted a broadcast licence in the next few months.   View video clip: ASHISH SEN ENDORSES FIRST RESPONSE INDIA TRIAL

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  • Chrysolite and FIRST Response trial in Philippines

    Tonight participants begin gathering for the FIRST Response workshop in the city of Bangalore which will be followed by a live field trial in the tsunami-ravaged city of Nagapattinam.  This is the second workshop and trial of its kind, the first (pictured) taking place in Legaspi city in the Southern Philippines which is prone to volcanic erruptions and the frightening phenomenon known as ‘lahar’.

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  • Dadeldhura panorama

    History was made in the western Nepali town of Dadeldhura yesterday (Saturday 14th June 2008) when Aafno Radio, or “My Radio” 104.8 FM, went on air at 7pm local time for two hours.  This is the town’s first community radio station.  Congratulations to the team for pulling this off so quickly after the workshop in May.  The picture shows a panoramic view from the transmitting site (click on image to enlarge).  Dadeldhura is the first community radio station which is part of the CoRIN network (Community Radio Initiatve for Nepal) linked to the work of HDCS (Human Development and Community Services).

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  • First Response logo

    FIRST Response’s involvement after the 2004 Asian tsunami and the 2005 Pakistan earthquake convinced me that if a radio station could be set up soon after a disaster, it could save countless lives.  With the breakdown of telecommunications infrastructure and the general confusion that follows a disaster, radio becomes a central focus to providing critical information and even coordination of resources.  It also provides a voice of hope, encouragement and comfort for those in desperate need.

    To that end on 23rd June 2008, we begin a 5-day workshop in Bangalore, involving participants from local government, NGO’s, Community Organisations and broadcasters which will combine knowledge about radio and the unique environment experienced from disaster relief work.  Participants will then put their new-found knowledge into practice by running a real emergency radio station for 3-days.  Non-stop!  Just like the real thing. Simulating real conditions.  The trial will take place in Nagapattinam, in Tamil Nadu, which was devastated by the 2004 tsunami and which will form the backdrop for the trial.  The Nambikkai orphanage, founded by a remarkable man, Mr. Parameswaran, is kindly hosting the trial.  His amazing story of courage and hope after the tsunami can be read here: TURNING BACK THE TIDE OF GRIEF.

    By the end of the trial we hope to have established a fully equiped and capable team which will be ready to respond to the next disaster in the South Asian region.

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