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Six Bangladeshi Community Radio Broadcasters Completed Fellowship at Oklahoma University, USA & Back to Bangladesh Successfully

“Community Radio based English learning has a great potential that reduces the gap between urban and rural settings”

“American English Radio Project (AERP)” becomes one of the most popular programs of the community radios in Bangladesh. Listeners’ numbers are increasing day by day; more than 300,000 English language learners are now tuning the program regularly. At present, the program is broadcasting through all 17 Community Radio Stations airing in Bangladesh.

A six member’s team from AERP has completed the five-week fellowship at Oklahoma University, in the United States of America. The Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Oklahoma partnered with the U. S. Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh and the Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) to host a five-week professional exchange visit for the community broadcasters. Five broadcasters from 3 different Community radio stations along with Coordinator, American English Radio Project of BNNRC have availed the opportunity. The title of the program was “Community Radio from a Digital Foundation”. The program was started on June 30, 2017, and concluded on August 04, 2017.

This program included a professional fellowship placement at the American media companies and injected Bangladeshi community radio broadcasters into the working community and Commercial radios including Community Televisions in Oklahoma. The program aimed to provide professional experience and training for nurturing participants’ talent and prepared for more responsible leadership positions in their working places, communities, and society in general.

In October 2016, the American Center, Dhaka invited applications for the fellowship from the experienced 5 community radio stations namely CR Padma, CR Jhenuk, CR Pollikontho, CR Sagar Giri and CR Naf. A total of 15 CR broadcasters who involved in implementing the English radio program practically including 4 local English language teachers has submitted their application. The American Center, Dhaka jointly with the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Oklahoma University (join through Skype call) had organized a day-long interview for the applicants on November 08, 2016 and selected 5 participants from three radio stations. Categorically 2 Station Managers, 2 producers, a local English Language teacher (program facilitator) along with Coordinator, American English Radio Project (AERP) of BNNRC were selected finally for participating in the program. The participants were:

Shahana Parveen, Station Manager, and Ayesha Siddika Anu, Producer & Presenter, Community Radio Padma, Rajshahi; Mohammad Mehedi Hasan, Station Manager, and Md. Kamruzzaman, Producer & Focal Person, Community Radio Pollikontho, Moulvibazar; Swapon Kumar Biswas, English Language Teacher/Facilitator, Jhenuk, Jhenaidah and Mark Manash Saha, Coordinator, American English Radio Project (AERP) of BNNRC, Dhaka.

The program was designed by aiming into two particular focuses. The first 4 weeks were designed for gathering knowledge from the academia, researchers and think-tank’s, to know about the history and culture of America and its citizen, observing live programs, presentation, spot editing and use of software, marketing strategies and fund raising activities. The last week was designed by focusing on the exchange of views and sharing knowledge. The participants spent first 4 weeks at Oklahoma State and last week at Washington D.C.

During the visit AERP team has visited more than 20 radio stations including Community Radio station, one television station, 4 renowned media companies like Tyler media, iHeart Media, Cox Media and SiriuXM- P. O. T. U. S., National Press Club, National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), Voice of America (VOA), Newseum etc. Besides, AERP team participated in a number of presentations on Media related issues presented by the Experts from Oklahoma University, Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters and The George Washington University.

The visit was focused on the trend of American and its progress, fund raising for radios, marketing policy of radios, ethics and the role of broadcasters, radios focused on different communities, presentation and content development pattern, attending listeners, managing talk-shows etc.

The visit was an exceptional one where the participants have scope to observe and learn from the media of USA practically. After each visit, there was an open discussion where AERP team have had scope to ask the question to the related experts of the radio and media companies to learn more about their activities. AERP team will prepare a brief report on the exchange visit and will share among the stakeholders.

Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) actively works to improve the recognition of the community electronic media sector [Community Radio, Community TV, and Community Film]. This exchange visit program was also great opportunity, honor, and recognition for the Community Radios in Bangladesh.

It is to be noted here that AERP has piloted the project in one Community Radio station in 2012. Then the project was replicated in another 4 community radios stations and finally, the project has been replicating in 17 community radio stations since 2015.

In the meanwhile, the project, “American English Radio Project (AERP)” was honored by home and Abroad. Recently the project has selected as a Champion of the prestigious “WSIS Prizes 2017”. It is also a great honor for Bangladesh as well as the development partner, the American Center, Dhaka.

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