The Pacific’s newest radio station promises to assist USP Nauru students and their community with a blend of modern technology and traditional broadcast media.
Radio Pasifik Nauru, Triple 9 FM, began broadcasting on 2 April. It is a sister station to USP’s main student and community radio station, Radio Pasifik, Triple 8 FM, located at the Laucala Campus in Suva, Fiji.
The Nauru project was initiated by Linda Austin, Media Resource Coordinator in the USP Media Centre, and Alamanda Lauti, USP campus director in Nauru. The pair envisioned a solar-powered educational radio station as a way to both assist USP students in Nauru and foster the development of a community based radio service.
For many reasons, students in Nauru face unusual problems that impact their study success. Frequent power cuts, scarcity of transportation and fuel, and some social disruption caused by Nauru’s unstable economy all hamper student performance and motivation.
The proposed radio station is designed to initially broadcast recorded lectures and tutorials in course with high enrolment, such as foundation English, Maths and sciences. Lectures and tutorials are recorded in Suva, digitally compressed, and then sent via USPNet to Nauru Campus for rebroadcast. Training of Nauru-based announcers and other radio volunteers was also conducted over USPNet via video conference.
This formal educational programming is augmented with locally produced shows on the environment, agriculture and culture, such as a children’s show. Relevant podcasts and other “Creative Commons” materials from the Internet are also available. Currently the radio station broadcasts about 18 hours a week, Monday through Saturday.
Technically , the equipment used includes a 30-watt FM “radio in a suitcase’ designed by the Commonwealth of Learning and Wantok Enterprises of Canada. To overcome unreliable electrical power supplies, the radio station is supported by a solar power system capable of operating the station for at least six hours a day.
Funding for the project includes a research grant from the Pan Asia ICT R&D Grants Program (AUD$35,000) and from the USP Campus development fund (FJ$21,000). The project’s research component will investigate the useful of such blended technology to regional distance students. If found beneficial, similar radio set-ups might be established in similar remote island communities in Kiribati, Tuvalu and other member countries.
The radio station’s inaugural broadcast was to include speeches from government and civil dignitaries as well as programs on piggery operation, coconut recipes, love stories and other traditional tales, and local music. However, about 90 minutes into the festivities, Nauruans received a tsunami warning as a result of the 2 April earthquake and tsunami in Solomon Islands. Scheduled programming was curtailed and the Radio Pasifik Nauru team focused instead on broadcasting emergency evacuation information, weather updates, and helpful tips for families before they themselves headed to higher ground and safety.
This article is from USPBeat, Vol 17 Isuue 4, a publication of and © University of the South Pacific.