When there is no radio
(La passion radio Lorsqu’il n’y a pas de radio)
10 / 1993
PROJECT SUMMARY: The Cassette Education Trust (CASET)is a community service project based in the Salt River industrial area of Cape Town, South Africa. The project was established to develop the usefulness of audio-cassette as a medium of communication in the struggle for a sustainable democracy. Because broadcasting was state-controlled, CASET produced and distributed audio-cassette programmes, which in more open circumstances would be broadcast on radio. An emphasis was put on the creation of a training ground for future broadcasters.
DATE OF THE PROJECT: CASET was established in 1989. By February1992, the political situation started changing in South Africa and CASET started to combine its facilities with Bush Radio, a broad based community radio initiative.
METHODS: The CASET project grew out of The Talking Newspaper Pilot project. This was a project to use audio-cassettes as a mass medium of communication in 1988. As this was in the middle of the state of emergency in South Africa, it was not easy to start new media projects. The project was articulated as "providing access to the print media for people with handicaps to independent reading (visual impairment and illiteracy)". It was also made to look like an academic exercise by couching the study in the context of the University of Cape Town’s Community Adult Education Programme. By 1988, support had increased for this project, and demand had increased for more cassettes. Funding for the first year of the CASET project was secured from the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF). Premises were chosen, equipment was purchased, offices established, and work began. The project was guided and supervised by a Board of Trustees who were respected members of the community, all with an interest in education or the media. CASET raised some of its funds from recording conferences. Most of these conference recordings were archived as an accurate record of proceedings, transcribed for print publications, or copied in full for wider listenership. CASET also started to train people in Ghettoblaster Workshops. This involved taking some blank tapes and a double-cassette machine to wherever people were meeting anyway, and doing a three hour workshop. They would record whatever people wanted to do, such as songs, stories, interviews, etc. The people would edit the material on a double-deck and produce a programme. Then copies would be made. The technique was successful in giving people a feel for participatory community radio. Tapes were distributed in three different ways. Sometimes people just made lots of copies. Secondly, some tapes would be sold by CASET. Thirdly, CASET would produce a programme with a particular organization and they would handle their own distribution.
EVALUATION: The director of the CASET project said that audio-cassette is not really an appropriate-technology equivalent of radio. Publishing stuff on audio-cassette is more like publishing a book than it is like doing radio. Its greatest potential lies as an aid to formal education, distance learning together with visual packages, maps, comics, readings, etc. However, one of CASET’s main activities was training and getting people prepared for eventual access to the airwaves.
There exists a French and a Spanish version of this book. This card has been written from the chapter 22.
GORFINKEL, Eric, AMARC=ASSOCIATION MONDIALE DES RADIODIFFUSEURS COMMUNAUTAIRES, BLACK ROSE BOOKS, 1992 (CANADA)