The Community Radio Association of San Gil, Colombia broadcasts a programme called La Cometa (The Kite) on 107.2 FM. Initiated in 1997, La Cometa is part of an effort on the part of 14 community organisations (12 from the non-profit sector and 2 from the private sector) to support educational and social projects through exchange of ideas about agro-technical initiatives and diverse programming reflective of local interests and beliefs. Geared especially toward people between the ages of 16 and 35, the radio programme is designed to enable San Gil farmers to hear their own voices and to empower themselves through open, democratic communication. The ultimate aims are to build citizenship and social accountability; to foster cultural development; and to strengthen solidarity initiatives supportive of peace in the city of San Gil.
Communication Strategies: 

La Cometa programmes focus on topics related to educational and community organisation processes, agriculture, sustainable development, cultural expressions, poetry, oral tradition, local heroes, youngsters, children, and gender issues. The formats combine interviews, news, radio drama, humor, local and diverse music, and magazines to entertain as well as educate.

Under the leadership of a board of trustees (consisting of the 14 organisations referred to above), a programming committee composed of community members, a group of volunteers, and letters from listeners, La Cometa cultivates the following approach to social concerns: instead of denouncing problems, La Cometa promotes reflection and activities that summon people to generate social commentary and political statements. For instance, it has promoted the Call for Letters against Violence, Peace Awareness Week, The Kites Fest, and The Tourist Tour.

Training was provided (by outside experts who host training for employees of several radio stations at one time) to producer teams in sound language, creative radio, creative use of music, news production, and programming. Workshops for managers focussed on management and legal issues and organisational projects. Technician operators were provided with an update on equipment maintainence and use of digital resources.

Development Issues: 

Economic Development, Youth, Conflict, Agriculture.

Key Points: 

The population of San Gil is 40,000, 75% of which live in urban areas (and 25% in rural areas). Agriculture (tobacco, corn, sugar cane, tomato, and beams), small industry, cattle, commerce, and eco-tourism are the city's main actitivies. La Cometa's competitors in reaching this population are two radio stations owned by two powerful telecommunication companies that provide popular music and news.

This radio station covers a region of the country that has not yet been reached by the political armed conflict that affects most of the national territory. The area covered by La Cometa has experienced social and economical development that has motivated small farmers' associations, local mutual funds (called cooperativas), and other grassroots organisations to fight against poverty and to create a peaceful environment to improve the quality of life in San Gil.

The programming was developed on the basis of audience research structured by technical criteria and directed by a team of social communicators. La Cometa has no sponsors or international cooperation at this time. Its expenses are $90 million pesos per year (approximately US$40.000). It contracts seven full-time employees and more than 30 radio producers.


Letter sent from Cometa Comunitaria to The Communication Initiative on August 21, 2002.