Low-Cost, High-Connectivity, Resilience
RootIO Radio stations are tiny FM radio stations that require little investment, maintenance, or contribution from the community, yet at the same time offer more and better modes of interaction than traditional stations. After a few days of installation and training, stations can start to facilitate new economic opportunities, new opportunities for expression and deliberation, and provide information across, into, and out of the community they serve.
Each station is amplified by our cloud/telephony Radio as a Service (RaaS). With the cloud, an individual station can receive free voice-quality calls that go straight to air, download audio from the Internet in the background, or run SMS votes. Using any basic phone (through RaaS) local hosts can run live shows with callers; local business people can record ads or announcements; citizen journalists can cover live meetings or sports events. With solar power a station can serve as 24/7 endpoint to emergency services.
Four stations have been running in Northern Uganda for the last year, and small rural communities are creating their own programs, reporting their own news, and requesting audio content from the Internet. RootIO, with the help of Resilient Africa Network, is hoping to launch another 20 stations in the coming year.
Contact us to contribute your skills, to translate or edit news, or to fund a station in Uganda.
This recording is a montage of various types of programming RootIO stations are playing every day in Uganda. You can hear news, agricultural information, singing, kids, and one lady with a serious case of the giggles. The Obama song, since you'll probably want to know, is by a Gulu artist named Engineer Jane who also does recordings for RootIO.
A lovely song by Jane Adong and the members of the Gwoke Keni HIV/AIDS support organization in Patongo, Uganda. This group is running a very successful station, with over five original programs per week. They have opened a bank account to hold the profits they have made selling ads and announcements.
Our First Stations
While there is no shortage of radio in Uganda, it is broadcast from towns and can easily have a million listeners. The only advertisers are national (beer and telecommunications), the rural poor never participate in programs.
In June 2015, after over a year of code and hardware development, we launched four stations in rural Northern Uganda. Our stations are focused on communities of a few thousand to ten thousand people. Because we use a "call out" method, where callers aren't charged for participating, many more people feel comfortable joining in to talk shows and asking questions. Local program hosts use only their own phone to participate, and aren't charged. Because the RootIO cloud purchases all the phone credit, we get a massive discount, and costs to the community are trivial.
Our Next Stations
We are currently seeking partners and proposals for scaling RootIO. FM is regulated tightly by many countries, so the configuration of communities, regulators, topography, and other factors may or may not allow us to expand to a particular location.