One of Cambodia’s oldest and best-loved radio broadcasters is beefing up its digital presence, both in Khmer and, now, in English too. FM103.5, run by the Women’s Media Centre, has launched a brand new podcast and app that both NGOs and the government have praised for boosting democratic engagement in Cambodia.
Born out of a movement to increase female participation in Cambodia’s first post-Khmer Rouge elections, since 1995 the Phnom Penh-based Women’s Media Centre has become one of the biggest public service broadcasters in the country. The NGO creates radio and TV shows designed for women, by women, shining a light on hot topic issues that impact Cambodian women. This ranges from programmes that discuss trafficking and domestic violence through to educational pieces on the risk of HIV and AIDS, as well as making sense of the specific ways poverty and politics affect the female half of the population.
Launched in 1999, the Women’s Radio station, FM 102 / FM 103.5, is one of the organisation’s most popular and successful initiatives. Within six years it had become one of the most listened to stations in the country, with over 4 in 5 Cambodians saying they’d tuned in. It’s also been a huge force driving change for good. According to the WMC, three-quarters of listeners surveyed in 2005 said that programmes they heard on FM 102 had a positive influence on their attitudes and behaviours. FM 102 / FM 103.5 can already be streamed online live (in Khmer) through a handful of sites such as OnlineRadioBox, although this isn’t always a smooth listening experience.
Many individual Women’s Media Centre radio shows are also available for online streaming, including the Women’s 21st Century show, hosted by Soben Lon, which you can access on Spotify. The programme bills itself as a place to talk about “our world, democracy, our bodies, relationships, and everything you’ve ever been afraid to ask.”
Other shows you can listen to online via the WMC website (in Khmer) include specialised programmes on REDD+ (projects for forest management and protection), Let’s Talk About Money, Water and Life, Women’s Voice in Construction, Safe Migration, Outstanding Women’s Programme, and a range of others covering employment, health, the outcome of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, and more.
While old school radio remains popular, today Cambodia has around 11.37 million internet users, representing 67.5% of the population. Expanding Women’s Radio online means bringing its work can keep reaching younger, digital-centric listeners – and that can only be a good thing. For English speakers in the country, this is also a great opportunity to tap into discussions on on the big issues facing Cambodia today.
Download the Women’s Media Centre’s brand new app here (Apple) or here (Google).