Radiating changes through community radio

The Lhop Community Radio 91.1 FM has been lying dormant for some time now despite garnering positive changes in the Doyap community

Once hustling with numerous radio programs, the Lhop Community Radio station in Lotokuchu Jigme, Samtse, has been out of order for almost 5 years now and is in dire need of help.

Community people say that the station has benefited the community in numerous ways.  As the men entertained and kept the station running, notable changes like improvements in housing, road connectivity, food security, and enhanced water supply were also witnessed significantly.

First, it provided a platform to share information and announcements faster. “Earlier, we used to share information from person to person, going from one household to another. Secondly, we have been able to preserve and share classical Lhop songs. The most popular Lhop songs played on our stations are Gong Karsel Dawa, Yasa Shimi Dondu, and Ama Jalani Kiba. We have also set up a pricing system for various types of announcements and radio promotions but have only received local-level information dissemination,” says 26 year old Namgay Tshering Doya, the station’s Programme Producer.

He said that he and his friend, Tashi Tenzin, the Station Manager and Radio Jockey, faced numerous issues with the transmitter, while the computer system has also become outdated.

“We couldn’t continue our work at the station as we lacked the necessary skills and networks to repair the system. The community has been showing concern regarding the community radio and we have sought support from Tarayana Foundation and local government officials. We used to send the transmitter to the College of Science and Technology, and an electronics repair shop at Samtse for repair. But our contacts at these locations have moved, and we have lost our repairing amenities,” opined Namgay.

The two men got the opportunity to give back something to their community back in 2015 after they completed their middle schooling. They started to volunteer full-time at the newly established Lhop Community Radio Station.

“Since 2015 I have worked as the Programme Producer while my friend Tashi Tenzin is the Radio Jockey and the Station Manager of Lhop Community Radio 91.1 FM. I believe it’s the duty of young people like us to stay back and take up responsibilities like these as we are among the few people that are educated,” a proud Namgay exclaimed.

They initially struggled with technology, being devoid of any opportunity and growing up in a remote location. By managing the community radio, they learned to use computers and other electronic gadgets, accessories they have never touched in their lives.

“We produced a few Early Child Care and Development Programmes, Anti-Violence Programmes, and Religious Programmes on the station. We never thought we would be working at a Radio Station. After a few years at the community radio station, we started to feel more confident in our oral skills, improved our interpersonal skills, and started to enjoy working at the station,” said Tashi Tenzin.

One major hurdle while managing and running the community radio was the weather. As the place is always prone to thunder and wind storms, their transmitter was exposed to risks which were always difficult to reinstate.

“We would like to be fully employed at Lhop Community Radio as we want to focus fully on the operation of the station. We also have an issue with community members not cooperating for interviews, recording, and programme production. I feel the community radio station can thrive if we receive the necessary capacity-building training for the production and delivery of innovative and comprehensive radio programs.”

As of now, the Lhops’ only plight is for their transmitter is fixed as soon as possible so that more positive changes could be radiated in the community through the radio station.

Doyaps, whose origin is believed to be somewhere from the northern part of Samtse Dzongkhag are settled in the villages of Drukpa Bindu, Sengdhen, Lotukuchu Jigme, Lotukuchu Singye and Lotukuchu Wangchuk. They speak their local dialect Lhop.

(Courtesy of Tarayana Foundation)

Tashi Namgyal from Thimphu