It was an exhilarating time, and we all knew we were making history just by being associated with South Asia’s first community radio station
Everyone has a pet memory from their early careers, and for me that is the time I started work as a reporter at Radio Sagarmatha. I was just 18.
It was an exhilarating time, and we all knew we were making history just by being associated with South Asia’s first community radio station. There was an immense sense of self-fulfillment that came with having a job that fit perfectly with my idealism.
I was fresh into journalism and new to radio. But we had mentors who did not just teach us the craft of radio journalism, but also inspired us with their commitment and passion to this pioneering project. I used to be shy and hesitant at first to approach people on the busy streets of Kathmandu with those big old-fashioned recorders and microphones for my vox pop interviews. I was assigned to the brick factory in Bhaktapur, the marble quarry in Godavari, every corner of the Valley searching for hidden stories and sound bites.
I have interviewed hundreds of eminent Nepalis for our profile segment in the flagship Hamro Khaldo program, which became immensely popular. We used to work 18 hours a day, but never got tired, even when we survived on dried noodles. Sometimes we would not be paid, but that did not matter because I was learning more at Sagarmatha than at any university. It was when people I didn’t know started recognising me by my voice that I was sure about my journalism having an impact, and that encouraged me even more.
It was difficult in the beginning, but our audience soon realised that we were different from other commercial FMs because we spoke about local community issues. My most enjoyable program was hosting comedian and philosopher Chatyang Master in the morning show. Once, he didn’t realise my microphone was live and started blurting out that he had nothing to talk about. I had to control myself from bursting out laughing. Somehow we survived.
Those were the days when my station and I were both young, and bit crazy. I now live in London and try to visit Radio Sagarmatha every time I am back home. I was interviewed in my last visit by my own beloved radio station.
Happy 20th Birthday, 102.4!
Sangita Marhatta worked as a program producer at Radio Sagarmatha (1997-2000).
Building communities with communication, Manish Aryal
Interlink: Frequently modulated, Om Astha Rai
The Radio Wave, Editorial