Sorry no posts the last few days; I was coordinating a 3-day conference of 23 Liberian community radio stations. The roads are terrible in the rainy season; some station staff traveled 4 days by road, a distance of like, 150 miles, and others had to be flown in by the UN Mission in Liberia, UNMIL.
We had almost perfect attendance, and only a little bit of chaos when handing out equipment to these badly under-equipped stations, who are hungry for things like mics, mic stands, and blank cassettes. These radio stations operate on tiny budgets, soliciting anyone and everyone in their communities for a contribution. We trained them on transmitter care and maintenance, proposal writing, community relations, and we brought in numerous speakers to give pep talks.
When one of our speakers flaked, I had to step in and lead a class on digital audio editing. Some of the people had never sat in front of a computer before, so the training was a little slow! Imagine trying to grasp the difference between .wav and .mp3 when you don't even know what the mouse does.
Representatives of three government ministries came and promised that they'd respond if the radio stations were being shaken down by local officials. The Minister of Information quoted the president as saying "Corruption is public enemy number one," which was encouraging.
One of the stations we surveyed claims that they broadcast in seven different languages! Respect to the people in the world who have to canoe a whole day to get to the nearest muddy highway, who don't have phone service in their county, who have to edit interviews on a broken-ass cassette deck with only solar power, who don't get paid more than a dollar a day, and yet who continue to create grassroots media because they know it's necessary.