Operation of FM 95

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FM 95.2 "The Voice of Chageen" was conceived back in 2002 as a means of doing an end-run around the illiteracy which had been rending our efforts at translation ineffective. The station was built in early 2005 with hope that men and women in Kwongland and in neighboring tribes who could not read the Scriptures could listen to them. The following are common questions we frequently answer regarding the operation of the station. 

How can you keep the radio going all day long?

We can't. Our vision for this radio station is not to entertain people on their commute to work. It is to disciple Kwong Christians, and enhance non-Christians' perception of Christianity. Having said that, our intention is to fire up the radio station for 15 minutes early each morning when Christian families traditionally have their morning devotions, and read the Scriptures we have translated. We will then shut the station down until evening, when we will again broadcast for an hour or two.

What will you broadcast?

Besides straight, simple reading of the Scriptures, we envisage broadcasting the discipleship lessons we have have written over the years, and the Kwong Kingdom of God theology materials we have produced. Diane will with Kwong musicians record indigenous music for broadcast, and then adapt Scripture passages to those tunes for performance, recording, and subsequent broadcast. In order to appeal to the non-Christian audience and play a proactive role in the development of the community, we will offer public service announcements (e.g. the chief says everybody tie up their goats, the vet is vaccinating cows tomorrow, etc) and private announcements (obituaries being a very popular item in Kwongland). 

Do people have radios?

We figure that about every second family owns a radio. They can be purchased in the local market from traveling merchants at harvest time - which is, not coincidentally, also the time of year when the people can afford them. (Cheap ones go for about $6.) We have decided that at these relatively cheap prices there is no reason for us to get involved with the purchase and distribution of radios for people. 

What about other languages?

In the application to the government for our license, we portrayed FM 95.2 as a "vernacular" radio station, and listed 5 languages which we hope we can reach with it. We also specified that 70% of our programming would be in these languages, and not more than 30% would be in French and Arabic (the national languages of Chad.) In fact, it will take time to develop programming in neighboring languages, but we will begin immediately with one of them: Fulani, the language of the Muslim nomads who pass regularly through our area. A radio station in Cameroon already produces programming for the Fulani, and they are happy to provide us with cassettes of their programs for rebroadcast on FM 95.2. 

How far does the radio reach?

We know it reaches more than 40 miles to the north, and probably around 30 miles to the south. FM 95.2 is the only FM station audible in our part of Chad. It is only the second Christian radio station in all of Chad. 

How will it be funded now that it is built?

The statutes of the radio station which we filed with the government stipulate that the station function on a volunteer basis. That means the only real long-term expenses would be replacing the solar batteries every 7 years or so that make the station run, and paying the annual licensing fee to the government. We hope to be able to cover these expenses, as well as give a small "stipend of appreciation" to those individuals who volunteer the most by selling private announcements on the radio. People desperately want the rest of the world (or at least the rest of Kwongland) to know when their loved-ones die and when their babies are born, so we anticipate that this will be quite an effective means of on-going funding for the station (as in fact similar stations in Mali have already proven it to be.)  

What do the Kwong think about the station?

They could not be more thrilled at having a radio station in their village. It "puts them on the map" and elevates their language in the eyes of surrounding languages. We tested the station 5 times for 15 minutes each time in March 2005, and each time people begged us to broadcast more. 

What about AIDS?

AIDS is not a big problem in Kwongland - yet. The virus is floating around, and when it finally becomes prevalent in Kwong society, it will spread like wildfire, given the promiscuity of the Kwong. Already, Kwong men and women who contract the disease in the big cities are coming back to the village with increasing frequency - to die. But talking about AIDS is taboo. It is never offered as a cause of death, and never suggested as a good reason to abstain from extra-marital sex. We hope with FM 95.2 to address this issue with a persistence and frankness which will, with time, break down the taboo and save lives. Radio offers a kind of impersonal detachment, as well as the potential for relentlessness which it will undoubtedly take to break through the lies, ignorance, and fear surrounding the subject of AIDS today.

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Last modified: May 25, 2011