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A Simple Trick Made A Radio Work With A Crowd Of Millions

Once in a year, Mhaswad gets a pink makeover. The occasion is festival of the local temple which is celebrated by people from and around Satara district. There is a mythological reason for this celebration according to which the festival celebrates victory of Lord Siddhanath over the demon Mhaishasur.

More than half a million people gather in Mhaswad for this festival and all the local people and government bodies work hard to serve needs of the crowd. The festival lasts for two days, of which the second witnesses a Rath Yatra. Pilgrims pull a huge Rath along a fixed route which encircles the whole town. The Rath is heavily showered with gulal and the streets of Mhaswad remain pink for the next week. Different communities from the locality have a specific task assigned to them for the festival period. So, everyone from the town gears up for these days well in advance.

Whole population of Mhaswad along with my co-workers are on a two day vacation to serve their guests. This is also a good chance for radio to reach a larger audience. So, we decided to broadcast for more hours than scheduled slots. On the second day of festival we broadcasted the festival related and cultural content for the whole day. With the help of Municipal Corporation, radio sets with loud speakers were set up at 4 locations to guide the crowd. The task was to roam through the crowd covering the festival and do live broadcasting. But, there was a challenge. Most of staff was on leave during these days. I, along with a co-worker had to manage the broadcasting for two days.

To overcome the problem of manpower, we joined hands with technology. As only two of us were managing this, it was not possible to be present at the studio during the broadcast. This was the time when I felt that simple use of technology can mean a lot to our community radio. My technology skills couldn’t have made much difference in the corporate world, but it has surely helped our radio to find a solution for such situations. Another challenge was in communication as all the cellphone networks were congested due to sudden increase in number of using in that area. But, the data network was working fine. So, we just paired the studio computer for remote handling through cellphone and switched to Skype calling to overcome network congestion.

After setting up the instruments we headed straight towards the crowd and started our program. The radio sets mounted at the main spots were helping pilgrims to get updates of the Rath Yatra.

Nilay Wankhade

2016 fellow, placed with Manndeshi Tarang Vahini in Mhaswad, Maharashtra as part of his fellowship. Working on strengthening the community radio and making it a more vibrant space.

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