Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Rapping out the Message – India’s Radio Deejays and Veejays Learn to Get Loose on Air about HIV/AIDS

Internews’ MEDIAIDS project will hold two “Young Voices” workshops for young radio deejays and television veejays July 25 – August 7 in Chennai, India.
The goal is to train young disc jockeys from the campus radios, the local commercial radio and TV stations to talk about HIV/AIDS in a way that the message will appeal to their young audiences: youth talking to youth through a highly popular, interactive medium that can inform, entertain and promote a healthy culture of safer behaviors among young listeners and viewers.
A significant number of HIV infections in India occur in people below the age of 25 years old. Young people in India are especially vulnerable to HIV as they often fall outside the purview of targeted intervention programs.

“School and university based HIV education programs are often challenged by the restrictive classroom environments in which they are held; environments that rarely encourage frank discussions about HIV risk or about where youth might turn to for more information and services. However, this is a group that increasingly needs to be reached with such information,” says Dr. Jaya Shreedhar, Internews Health Advisor.
The deejay training will focus on helping young people understand the basic facts about HIV/AIDS. It will clarify myths and misperceptions such as ‘it can’t happen to me!’ It will also tackle the roots of HIV related stigma and discuss related legal issues.
“UNICEF’s experience with young people shows that even if a majority are aware of HIV, many do not have correct information on prevention. There are also many myths and misconceptions related to HIV, sex and sexuality,” says Thomas George, Communications Officer, UNICEF Chennai.
The training will be conducted by internationally known DJ Georges Collinet, who has successfully held similar trainings in Kenya and Nigeria for Internews; Jaya Shreedhar, health advisor for Internews; and Götz Buerki, technical trainer from Deutsche Welle, Germany.
The trainees will include deejays from Suryan FM, Radio Mirchi and the All India Radio as well as from the two campus community radio stations in the country. Video jockeys from Sun TV and other private TV stations are also expected to attend. In addition, there will be a young award winning student music band based in Chennai. During the training, the musicians will compose a song on young people and HIV and the deejays will compose jingles on the theme, as well as learning to 'vamp' or 'rap' about HIV and VCT as they spin their records.
“When the DJs and musicians leave this training, they have a new appreciation for the key role they can play in reaching their young audiences with life-saving information,” says Internews HIV/ AIDS Advisor Liz Gold.
The workshops will be held in partnership with the UNICEF regional office in Chennai, the country’s first two community radio stations to go on air – Anna FM at the Anna University and MOP FM at the MOP Vaishnav College for Women – and with the support of the European Commission under the EU-India Economic Cross Cultural Programme.
The Audio Visual Research Center at Anna University was the first campus radio station to go on air in India. Anna FM began its broadcasts in January 2004 and can be heard over a 5 km radius. The station is run entirely by students from the media stream and regularly features the voices of the urban and semi rural communities within the broadcast radius – college students, vendors, farmers, housewives and young workers. It also features distinguished guest speakers on a variety of topics such as health and civic responsibility, local musicians and several educational programs.
The MOP Vaishnav Collge for Women launched its FM Community Radio – MOP 91.2 – in March 2005. Nearly a dozen schools and colleges, as well as several health centers fall within the broadcast radius of this station.