Jim Ellinger of Austin Airwaves wrote with exciting news about a community radio station that he’s helping to launch along with RadioActive Radio in Borneo. Apparently the first community-run radio station in Malaysia, Radio Bario launched two weeks ago over the FM airwaves in the central highlands of Borneo.
Yesterday Ellinger reported that the station has “been on the air two weeks, with few problems. Still waiting on steel pipe/tower to double coverage area from about 800 Kelabit members to maybe a thousand. Interestingly, as many or more folks listen on their mobile phones as over the air.”
On Wednesday Ellinger gave a bit of background about the location and early programming on Radio Bario:
“Radio Bario has now been on the air for ten days at fifty watts strong. Serving the Heart of Borneo in this extremely remote locale. Only 800 folks in village, similar number of indigenous hunter/farmer communities in nearby valleys. B-casting about 8 hours a day on solar power. PC-based station brought in by London’s RadioActive group. First Team just flew out, leaving, um, me, as sole trainer…
Their temp tower is made out of BAMBOO! I will be leading a crew to building a 20′ steel pipe tower, at the top of a 100′ hill behind studio, in the middle of a pineapple grove, this week. Signal was ‘moved’ by gov’t to 94.0 from 94.5 to avoid reaching Indonesia, about a six hour walk from here. Again, no roads. All programming in Kelabit language.
Curiously, American country/western music is their 1st choice. Kinda corny to my Austin-taeous (sp?) ears.
Cheatin’ hearts, lonely women, drinkin’ and pick up trucks fill the airwaves.
Some of the older songs, of the June Carter/Family genre, would be the very same that were b-cast on the world’s first ‘mass media,’ the legendary X stations along the Tex/Mex border. Go figure.
In someways the region is sorta’ Texas-like; rural, pick ups, construction/farm workers…if Texas was a dense jungle.
Radio Bario 94FM”
Ellinger has worked on numerous community radio projects all over the world. He helped out in Haiti following their major earthquake in 2010, worked on AstroDome Radio following Hurricane Katrina, and has also been to Ghana and Panama on radio missions. He was slated to go to Thailand next for a Community Radio Forum, but that has been cancelled due to massive flooding in Bangkok.