We often work with the concept of Radio 2.0.
Radio 2.0 is a proposal to integrate the use and tools of New Media (Media 2.0) into the practices of community radio. Radio in the digital era uses a variety of Media outlets such as podcasting, RSS feeds integrated in web sites, talking heads photo galleries, and now the ‘freefone' concept linking it up with simple mobile phones. Development of new coding techniques allow for narrowcasting solutions which makes it suitable for radios with a limited bandwidth to access the Internet.
Direct public participation is no longer only realized through studio debates or Outdoor Broadcasting, the use of SMS to do quick and dirty opinion polls (instead of Vox pops, SMS pops); to pass on news flashes or even to be used as election observation tools (cf. Zimbabwe elections). Radios that have a presence on the Internet are able to reach out to their country-people in the Diaspora who can comment and communicate using cheap technologies as chat, messenger, email and Skype, it has the capacity to rebuild communities scattered over the continents due to wars and immigration.
African telecom's revolution - though still too expensive - has leapfrogged into the digital era. Even in a vast country as the DRC, cell phone coverage has made huge advances and the roll-out of the telecom infrastructure comes standard with GPRS and in some cases 2.5 and 3 G networks.
It places the community radio in the middle of a convergence strategy where the communications revolution is put to work to:
- Enhance direct public participation in the programming of the radio;
- build localized regional networks of radios;
- improve the possibility of community radios to be more effective in their advocacy work and setting the public agenda;
Evidence of Radio 2.0 is scarce and scattered. Research into developments of Radio in Africa and Latin America do not show integrated concepts. Radios are using New Media on an ad-hoc basis. Radio practitioners show an increasing interest to take ownership of the use of New Media and research is underway in Latin America to study the Radio in the digital era and Triple-Play Radio.
Triple-Play Radio is a concept within Radio 2.0 where the local radio produces information for a broader audience (broadcasting); specialized information is published on the Web in the form of text and audio (podcasting and streaming = narrowcasting). The third element is to extend the ICT services towards the community by using wireless technology (or Freefones) and to provide the community with access to information (localized and Internet). The use of public hotspots managed by the radio provides an opportunity to generate income for the radio whilst at the same time providing Internet services to the community.