John Terawe -- Main man behind Radio Bario
KUCHING: eBario Sdn. Bhd., the force behind the setting up of Malaysia's first community-run radio station Radio Bario, has formed a joint venture with a United Kingdom-based company to install more radio stations, especially in Sarawak.
Its chief executive officer John Terawe said Saturday his non-profit organisation, which operates the eBario telecentre in the Kelabit Highlands, will be collaborating with RadioActive Ltd in lending a helping hand to the Kayan and Kenyah communities following the positive experience of Radio Bario's launch on Thursday.
"Several representatives of other indigenous groups in Sarawak expressed their interest in establishing their own community radio stations at a recent dialogue in Miri," he told Bernama.
He said RadioActive, which has vast experience installing community radio stations in over 20 countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia, including in Nepal recently, would provide the equipment, training and technical assistance to these mainly rural communities.
Radio Bario, whose licence to operate was approved by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission in September last year was RadioActive's 50th project.
Given that radio reception, such as from Radio Television Malaysia, had yet to reach many of the state's isolated and remote rural parts, Tarawe said the radio station on 94.5 MHz FM represented a milestone in the country's broadcasting and media development.
Funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Bario Radio broadcasts information to the local community, albeit, a limited reach radius of between 20-30 kilometres to serve the scattered longhouses and farms in and around Bario.
"The locals' enthusiasm is reflected from the many positive response and feedback I received from those first time listeners who get to hear news, interviews, stories and music with direct relevance to their culture and history," he said.
Station manager Stanley Isaac, a former school teacher, who presented Radio Bario's very first live programme in his native Kelabit, said it also provided opportunities for conducting public debates on issues of local interest, especially with the widespread use of hand phones via phone-ins by listeners.