Advertisement
JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), is assisting to transform community radio stations into multimedia centers, thereby facilitating the development of a knowledge-based society.
  • This was noted by Vilma Gregory, Head of the Multimedia Centre at the University of Technology (UTech), in an interview with JIS News at the multimedia exhibition, which formed part of the just concluded two-day UNESCO World Press Freedom Day Conference, held at the Jamaica Conference Centre from May 2 to 3.
  • Miss Gregory, also of VILCOMM Services International Limited, a multimedia, private sector partner of UTech, which was invited by UNESCO to co-ordinate the exhibition, said that through a regional pilot project, four community radio stations were receiving assistance in enriching them to create the knowledge society, which was deemed necessary in order to advance community life.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), is assisting to transform community radio stations into multimedia centres, thereby facilitating the development of a knowledge-based society.
This was noted by Vilma Gregory, Head of the Multimedia Centre at the University of Technology (UTech), in an interview with JIS News at the multimedia exhibition, which formed part of the just concluded two-day UNESCO World Press Freedom Day Conference, held at the Jamaica Conference Centre from May 2 to 3.
Miss Gregory, also of VILCOMM Services International Limited, a multimedia, private sector partner of UTech, which was invited by UNESCO to co-ordinate the exhibition, said that through a regional pilot project, four community radio stations were receiving assistance in enriching them to create the knowledge society, which was deemed necessary in order to advance community life.
“These radio stations, Roots FM in Jamaica, GED in Barbados, Radio Cocodrilo in Cuba, and Radio Toco in Trinidad and Tobago occupy a special place here at the exhibition, because UNESCO is facilitating a very special project, whereby these four Caribbean community radio stations are being transformed into community multimedia centres,” Miss Gregory said.
She explained that the transformation involved taking new multimedia technology and dovetailing them with the traditional media, such as radio. “In real terms, this means that the community members will not only be given more access to technology, but also to a UNESCO-branded methodology called Radio Browsing, whereby the people in radio will be able to do internet searches on behalf of community members and share the information with the community,” Miss Gregory explained.
Noting that it was not just a question of accessing the internet and doing radio browsing, she said they would also be able to create their own content, as well as create content with their own voices and images, using multimedia technology.
Among other technologies, Miss Gregory pointed out that the pilot projects were equipped with digital cameras and scanners, so they could create content for themselves and also on behalf of members of the community, and eventually for businesses, to enable the pilot projects to become self-sustaining.
Roots FM, an inner-city radio station in Jamaica, has 750,000 listeners. It is the voice of the downtown community, in that the people speak to each other through this medium, rather than the mainstream radio stations, she informed. It is community‑based and draws its inspiration from the work and service of Mustard Seed communities.
Miss Gregory noted that its programmes were political and religious, and that the station was an interactive medium that facilitated the flow of vital information to people about their rights, and the things they needed to do to achieve sustainable livelihoods, happiness and peace.
Another pilot community station, Radio GED, based on the campus of Barbados Community College and covers a five-mile radius, also uses cutting-edge technology to empower students to produce content which goes towards their credits in the Associate Degree in the Communications course. The station is operated by students, who transmit during the school term from Mondays to Fridays between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
Broadcasting on 106.1 MHz FM, Radio GED, which went on air in 1995, is powered by a 20-watt solar‑powered transmitter provided by UNESCO, along with additional equipment. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), also donated radio equipment, Miss Gregory informed JIS News.
In terms of penetration and community outreach, she also pointed to a 40-foot container in May Pen which housed a mobile 15-computer laboratory, which is equipped with internet facility, and aimed at transforming the parish into a knowledge-based community. She said that the United Kingdom-funded project was key to the empowerment of communities.
Tech Multimedia Centre was also showcased at the exhibition. The centre provides training and transfer of new technologies to the entire UTech community, as well as opportunities for additional revenue earnings, through the commercialization of research and production.
Operating as a collaborative project with the University’s partner, VILCOMM Services International, the Centre provides production services, such as multimedia presentations, digital photo albums, web sites, e‑commerce sites, Intranet and e-learning. It also provides digitizing services, such as imaging/scanning, OCR (optical character recognition)/document management, CD‑ROM and DVD mastering and archiving, CD‑ROM labels, and video conferencing.
Other exhibitors at the conference were: International Centre for Journalists (USA); Fundacion Chasquinet (Ecuador); Women’s Media Watch (Jamaica), and Cable and Wireless (Jamaica).

Skip to content