Community radio usually is a short-range, not-for-profit radio station or channel that caters for the information needs of people living in a particular locality, in the languages and formats that are most adapted to the local context. Community radio stations can be mobilized for campaigns, for example by announcing campaign events, hosting talk shows with campaigners, or playing the campaign radio jingle and songs.
Community radio, rural radio, cooperative radio, participatory radio, free radio, alternative, popular, educational radio. If the radio stations, networks and production groups that make up the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters refer to themselves by a variety of names, then their practices and profiles are even or varied. Some are musical, some militant and some mix music and militancy. They are located in isolated rural villages and in the heart of the largest cities in the world. Their signals may reach only a kilometer, cover a whole country or be carried via shortwave to other parts of the world. Some stations are owned by not-for-profit groups or by cooperatives whose members are the listeners themselves.
Call it by any name community radio, rural radio, cooperative radio, or development radio, its proponents feel that radio holds the key that will unite India's linguistic and ethnic diversity and improve the economic disparity and the huge rural-urban divide.
India has 245 commercial radio stations spread across 50-odd cities out of a total of 1,600 cities and towns in the country. Some might argue that radio is an ageing technology and shouldn't be revived, but it is dying even faster where it is needed the most: in rural hinterlands and communities.
More than 70% of Indian population lives in villages and a vast majority of them have little to no connectivity to Internet, electricity or telephone lines making radio the only feasible medium for mass communication.
However, 13 years after India first opened itself to the idea of having community-run radio stations, only 179 such stations are currently functional in the country, far short of the 4,000 stations the government in 2007 promised would be set up "in a few years".