Nepali Times Asian Paints
Putting it on air


Most Nepalis are used to seeing the comedy duo Madan Krishna Shrestha and Haribangsa Acharya on television. Few know that they also have a radio show.

Maha (Madan and Hairbangsa) star in a 10-minute radio drama Adalat, which go to the roots of social, political and economic conflicts in Nepali society. But as usual, Maha don't do it in a preachy and moralisitic way, but rather with humour and entertainment.

The two are back together in radio after 17 years, and the thanks for that goes to the production house, Antenna, which was started by a group of radio journalists. The brain child of Manisha Aryal, a print-turned-radio journalist, Antenna is making waves by shoring up the public service broadcasting model in the country.

"Listening to FM stations, you get the feeling radio presenters, especially the DJs, don't treat Nepali listeners as intelligent people," says Aryal. This is why she wanted to start something new and different by turning Nepali audience into not only listeners, but also active participants in debates and discussions.

Since its launch in 2002, Antenna has proved to be one of the most successful radio production companies in the country with its weekly radio magazine, Chhinophano, that reaches millions of Nepalis in cities and villages throughout Nepal.

Nepal has now established itself as a pioneer of community radio worldwide. Local broadcasters in towns and villages across Nepal have shown that public service broadcasting is alive and well in the country. And others have taken notice.

Nepal's new community FM broadcasters are gradually promoting the public service broadcasting culture pioneered by Radio Sagarmatha in Kathmandu, which was the first private community radio station of South Asia when it started in 1997.

What makes Antenna's Chhinophano an important addition to this trend is the presentation by Nepal's most popular humorists and satirists like the Chatyang Master and the Maha duo. The producers keep experimenting with the structure of the program to make it more relevant to the listeners.

Chhinophano reaches listeners in the eastern, central, western and far western regions of Nepal through Radio Nepal's central and regional transmission centers and through Radio Nepal's six FM stations around the country. It also reaches listeners in eastern, central and western Nepal through a network 10 of NGO or cooperative-run and commercial FM radio stations. Since January 2004, it has also started to reach British Gurkha soldiers stationed in different parts of the world through British Forces' Broadcasting Services' V-Sat links.

Antenna's latest venture has been to produce Business Yatra, specifically targeted at the Kathmandu audience with information on money and business. "We decided to produce Business Yatra because we felt existing business programs on radio and television do not do justice to economic issues. They tend to be full of jargon and rarely explain why businesses and consumers should care about a particular piece of government legislation, inter-linkages amongst economic activities or an entrepreneur's vision," adds Aryal.

Chhinophano airs on Radio Nepal every Saturday evening 7:30-8:00 pm
Business Yaatra is on Radio Sagarmatha 102.4FM every Thursday morning at 8:00 am

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)