Khayae FM is the first community radio station in Myanmar and on February 18, the community reporters and staff celebrated the station's very first birthday.
For two hours a day, Khayae FM's volunteer team broadcasts live from a studio in Htan Tabin – a village about a 90 minute drive from Yangon, Myanmar's largest city. The team reports on everyday topics ranging from health guidance to agricultural pest control.
DW Akademie mentor Htet Mon Thaw is based in Yangon and visits the station four times a week, supporting the volunteers with feedback and tips on planning and producing interviews and programs. DW Akademie has funded the station's technical equipment and holds regular workshops for the volunteers.
Pilot project sparks interest
Myanmar does not grant broadcasting licenses to community radio stations but Khayae FM is an exception: the pilot project has received government approval.
Cake for a radio station and its team: Thomas Bärthlein (DW Akademie), Thu Thu Hlaing and Mee Mee (Station Managers) and David Lian (Office Manager of DW Akademie in Yangon) during the festivities for Khayae FM
The project is attracting interest and the two station managers, Mee Mee and Thu Thu Hlaing, are often asked to talk about experiences in setting up and running the station. Interns have come from as far away as Chin State in northwestern Myanmar, to learn more about the studio and reporting assignments.
The biggest challenge during the station's first year was to raise awareness and to motivate volunteers to become involved. The resulting team is a creative one and focuses on having direct contact with its listeners.
Since early 2019, community media workers every two weeks have been visiting a different village within the station's broadcasting range and reporting directly from there. Two radio trainings have also been held in surrounding villages to encourage locals to get involved, as well.
Every two weeks the community reporters visit villages in the proximity of Htan Tabin. Here, Daw Nyo is recording an interview
Plans for 2019
The station is now looking at ways to attract local advertising customers, with a goal to become financially independent. Two workshops are being held at the station this March, one focusing on radio advertisement production and the other on the use of social media.
When the government finally does issue broadcasting licenses for community radio stations countrywide – and it says it will – many will be stopping by Khayae FM to get a first hand impression of how community radio can be a success.