In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a 27-year-old UPSC aspirant from Tripura's Behliangchhip village has set up the state's first community radio station outside Agartala to spread awareness about the pandemic.
Saidingliana Sailo of Behliangchhip village in Jampui Hills started Behliangchhip Radio, after a man from his village tested positive for the virus. His radio is the only operational community radio station in Tripura outside its capital city.
"I had no equipments or any license to start a FM radio station. So, I opted for YouTube Live streaming, invited my friends over zamzo.org and started a series of events for 2 hours every evening in the local Mizo dialect. With support and participation of my friends and villagers, have got over 1,000 listeners in a matter of four days and counting", Sailo told The Indian Express.
After Isaac, a middle-aged man in the village tested positive on July 2, the villagers became worried.
"The SDM reached our village, issued a set of restrictions and said we now came under red zone. Local task forces were formed and severe restrictions were imposed on public movement. We were all worried about community transmission. So, I thought something had to be done to help people fight this total lockdown and handle the situation. The idea of FM radio broadcasing in local language flashed in the mind," Sailo said.
Sailo's programming includes 'Hla Thlan', through which audiences can request songs and dedicate it to someone. While 'Biahthu' features a compilation of voice records of the village at different places and how people are spending time during lockdown, 'Speech' features an awareness programme on mental and physical health during the pandemic.
Others include 'Discussion' - an interaction on selected topics through conference calls and 'Special talk' involves special invitees joining in to deliver their messages on important social issues.
"We are running our shows for two hours from 8:30 PM till 10:30 PM every evening. Many have texted me to extend the time. Last night, someone even said he would be happy to pay subscription fees to support the service. I am very excited," Silo said.