Radio Nikoya Banda Aceh Is Back On Air Again
After five months of waiting, the people of the city of Banda Aceh can now listen to Radio Nikoya again. The radio, that was completely destroyed by the tsunami on 26 December last year, was officially re-launched on Tuesday, 31 May 2005 with the support of UNESCO.
The radio station is back on air again with support and assistance from UNESCO under its programme for rebuilding of Tsunami affected radio stations in Tsunami-affected Aceh. The re-opening took place in the new location of Radio Nikoya, in one of the parts of the city of Banda Aceh that was not affected by the tsunami. The official launching was marked by the cutting of a ribbon that was put at the main door of the station by Muwardi Nurdin, the Mayor of Banda Aceh, hand in hand with Stephen Hill, Director of UNESCO Jakarta. There were more than 100 invitees attended the occasion, including representatives from UN agencies and international organisations.
Radio Nikoya was one of the 12 private-commercial radio stations in Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province. There were 30 radio stations all together in the entire province. The earthquake, followed by tsunami that hit parts of the province as well as small parts of North Sumatera province, had affected about 15 of radio stations. Some of the stations were damaged by the earthquake, some other, especially in Banda Aceh, were completely destroyed, including Radio Nikoya. In addition to the devastated building along with its equipment, the radio had also lost its owner/manager, his elderly father who lived in a house next to the station, and his two elder brothers. The fate of its two crews are also unknown until today; they are presumed got killed by the tsunami.
The media in Aceh in general had experienced a great lost following the tsunami, with many journalists affected, either got killed or decided not to continue their profession as journalists after the disaster. The tsunami had also made the people of Aceh losing many of their channels of communication and information, especially radio stations from which they can get valuable information and can also communicate through various interactive radio programmes. The lost was even more felt during the time of crisis and emergency as shortly after the disaster, when people badly needed basic information such as how to get food and medical supplies, how to find missing family members, or even to verify unsubstantiated reports or rumors.
Before the tsunami, Radio Nikoya, founded in 1986, was the leading radio station in Banda Aceh in terms of news and information programmes. It was listened to by about 250,000 audience, and also reached out some other towns outside Banda Aceh. This was also the reason why Nikoya was among the very first radio stations in Indonesia that participated in UNESCO project, supported by the government of Denmark, called Capacity Building of Local Radio. Started in 1999 and completed in 2004, the project included 30 radio stations situated in 15 provinces throughout Indonesia. The 30 radio stations then became Indonesia's Local Radio Network for Democracy (LRND) - forming its own Advisory Board and achieving the status of a legally-recognised independent radio network in 2002.
The LRND was developed through various training in broadcast journalism, management and technical skills, provision of radio equipment, assistance in developing radio programmes such as news, current affairs, talk shows and features, and internet-based connection for information and news exchange. The purpose of building the network of private radio stations was to bring the media that can play their critical roles as the main element for strengthening democracy and good governance, following the resignation of President Soeharto -- an essential platform for Indonesia's post 1998 emerging democracy movement. Four of the radio stations in the LRND network are in Aceh - along with Radio Nikoya, Radio Dalka in Meulaboh, Radio Adyemadja in Lhokseumawe and Radio Fatali in Blangpidie.
Radio Nikoya was selected in 1999 as the place of inauguration of the LRND project. Therefore, in his remarks during the re-launching, Stephen Hill said that it was the second time he launched Radio Nikoya. He also mentioned in his remarks that UNESCO's support to Radio Nikoya is one of many steps we wish to take in assisting the rebuilding of the media environment in Aceh Province post-tsunami.
"Our funding remains limited so we have to take one step at a time, and to maximise the wider impact of each action we support. Radio Nikoya will therefore play an important role in the overall process - in particular, providing a working radio station base for training and more general capacity building of radio journalism for radio journalists in particular and media practitioners in general in Banda Aceh and the Aceh Province," said Stephen Hill.
The assistance this time includes one-year rent payment of the building, transmission and production equipment, and overhead cost for one year. Series of training are also being designed that will last until April next year. It is expected that the radio will already be financially sustained on its own beyond that time; which is quite an optimistic target. But this is not impossible to achieve. According to Faisal Daud, the new director of Radio Nikoya who is also the younger brother of the old owner who was killed by the tsunami, some big national companies have put their advertisement in the radio and already given advance payments. "The future is quite bright," Faisal said.
As with all of its support to radio stations throughout the country, UNESCO also imposes conditions for support that are designed to enrich the general media environment of the province. UNESCO requires the station for example to strengthen its role in providing important and relevant information to the listeners including humanitarian information, news and current affairs, features, investigative reporting, talk shows, distance learning and training and other types of radio programmes which will strengthen the democratisation process and peace building efforts and dialogue more generally. On a regular basis Radio Nikoya in cooperation with UNESCO will produce humanitarian information and other relevant content in order to serve the community.
Mayor of Banda Aceh Muwardi Nurdin in his speech warmly welcomed the rebuilding of Radio Nikoya and UNESCO's initiative in supporting it, since it is important for the people of Banda Aceh to have a reliable source of information such as Radio Nikoya, during the process of reconstruction and rehabilitation, so that they can participate in that process.
The end of the re-launching ceremony was marked by the 15-minute live interview by the radio with Stephen Hill, during which Stephen explained the overall programmes of UNESCO in response to the tsunami.