The ‘education’ I had at the SCC

Rajendra Shakya

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

As Albert Einstein so rightfully said, it certainly was two weeks of educating me with radio feature production at the School of Creative Communication (SCC). Imay forgetsome of thethingstaught during the workshop after few years. But I’m also sure that I was educated; that something will remain even with all the years passing by. ‘Town Walk with Angelika’, I must say, has given me a deeper insight into the radio world.

Learning new things is always fun. My experience at the SCC, however, showed me that learning the things you already knew can also be fun. It somehow refreshes your mind and your commitment to the work you do. So workshops like these are necessary for professionals as our brains don’t have the F5 button like on the computer to refresh.Workshops always have something new to teach us. But it is not only about learning new things: it is also about sharing what one knows and benefitting from on-the-job experiences of the others. And I did that.

Jointly organized by SCC and International Institute of Journalism Berlin-Brandenburg (IIJB),’Town Walk with Angelika’ was a workshop on radio feature productionstarting from September 7 till 19, 2013. Angelika Schulze from IIJB, Germany was the chief trainer. She was supported by PramilaManandhar as co-radio trainer, and also by DeependraBajracharya on many occasions.

Radio feature itself is rather new genre in Nepal. All of the participants had never produced a radio feature before joining the workshop. So even if the initial part discussed about journalistic forms and news were known to us, the feature part was completely a new realm for us. Radio feature provides a lot of room for creativity that news and interviews don’t. However, both news and interviews are also important parts of a feature. ‘The radio feature is a special blend of broadcast dealing with the reality. It is characterized by journalistic care and solid research. The marriage of journalism and art, of fact and fiction allows covering a huge range of exciting and creative areas in radio.’ (The Radio Feature, a handout from IIJB-2013)

Radio feature is more like a cinema in the head, unlike the TV which is cinema in a box. So you have to be able to visualize the whole picture or structure of your radio feature in your head before you actually start making it. This will not be possible without any research on the issue you are dealing with. You can do a feature on a wide range of issues; each of those issues can take a wide range of forms to become a feature; but every feature has to be a picture of reality. Only it is a word picture painted with sounds only.So despite radio feature being a ‘free form’, you are not free to manipulate the facts; you are never free from the journalistic norms.

For feature production, it is always better to visualize your idea before going into production. You can divide the feature into various sections and incorporate various forms of radio production like narration, interview, voxpop, and of course, the sound effects and music. It is important to have prepared an outline of the feature beforehand just to make sure that you don’t deviate from your concept while going on the field. The outline in this case is more like a skeletal form of radio feature that gives it a concrete shape on paper. You can arrange in slots the various forms that you want to include in the feature and also allocate tentative time for them. Once you have your feature clearly outlined on paper, it gives you a clearer idea about how your feature is going to be. And, if needed, you can rearrange the slots and duration. But it is important to be clear about the theme and angle of the feature. Rearranging them too may lead you running in circles and you end up losing your time and, worst of all, your feature as well.

Having learnt all these,it was time for all of us 15 participants to hit the road; it was time for ‘Town Walk’. We were five groups with three members in each. Angelika was clear about what she wanted from our town walk. It had to be something that bore a history of its own. It was something like a heritage walk.

We had decided on five sites that were important in terms of history, architecture, culture and human interest. I was teamed up with Rojita and Rashmi and we featured a medieval Shiva temple in Patan Durbar Square. Bigen, Sangita and Sabina chose Dharahara while Hasana, Shreeya and Meenapicked a unique ritual from a monastery in Patan. Meanwhile, Roshan, Deepa and Sarina featured Lagankhel Bus Park and Tikaram, Rama and Anita walked through an old alley called Krishna Galli in Patan for their feature.

In course of our ‘Town Walk’, I, along withRashmi and Rojita, walked to the Patan Durbar Square to rediscover the lost grandeur of Bhaidegah. An ordinary temple amid multitude of artistic temples and palace in Mangal Bazaar is Bhaidegah. Aesthetically it was once the most beautiful temple in the palace square. But it was all lost in the great earthquake of 1934. But attempts are on to rebuild the temple of Lord Shiva back to its original structure. We tried to trace the rebuilding process, along with the splendor of the three-storey Newar-style temple build by a commoner BhagirathBhaiya 335 years ago.

The all-ladies team of Hasana, Shreeya and Meena delved into a strange ritual of a Buddhist monastery in Patan. The ritual offering of human flesh in Subahalcan raise eyebrows of many. One of the major vihars of Patan, Subahal observes ‘La KhayeguSanskaar’, the annual ritual of offering human flesh to Mahankaal on Mahanawami of Mohani (Dashain). They shave off a thin small piece of flesh from devotees to offer it to the amorphous deity Mahankal. The feature takes us to the monastery and look into the links between the ritual and the cremation ground inside the vihar.

Another team of Deepa, Roshan and Sarina walked all the way to Lagankhel Bus Park, the biggest and busiest one in Lalitpur. Most people may not know but the place has very close connections with water resources in Patan. Unfortunately, the area can now only boast of having all sorts of pollution. So their feature took an in-depth look at the origin of the name Lagankhel, its connections with water, and how a huge area full of water resources has now been restricted to unmanaged bus park shared by vehicles and street vendors.

The ‘Town Walk’ of Rama, Tikaram and Anita focused on Krishna Galli at PatanDhoka. What used to be a huge bamboo bush has now become a business center in four years. Many feared to pass through Krishna Galli even during day time due to darkness caused by bamboo bush. Once a small alley that joined PatanDhoka with HariharBhawan, Krishna Galli has now undergone a complete transformation. The feature’s objective was to walk you through the alley in a bid to rediscover the mysticism of Krishna Galli.

And finally, the team of Bigen, Sangita and Sabina took their ‘Town Walk’ to a new height, literally. They climbed the 203-foot tall tower Dharahara all the way to the top. Often called the Bhimsen Tower, Dharahara has stood in the heart of Kathmandu, withstanding the test of time and nature. Destroyed partially in the great earthquake of 1934, Dharahara is now open to public. People can now climb the spiral staircase of 213 steps to the top for a splendid view that is sometimes dizzying to some due to the height. The feature takes a closer look at the 19th century pillar’s past, present and future.

The insights from both Angelika and Pramila were very helpful in polishing the outcome of our town walk. Saroj Kafle from Radio Sagarmatha also joined in to give us his opinion on the features we produced. And we refined our production as per his suggestions before broadcasting it from our respective radio stations.

The two weeks at SCC were really memorable. I believe the insight on radio feature production will also remain like the wonderful memories. And my regular duties back at the office, I’m sure, will give me reasons to harness the education I got at the School.

Shakya is currently involved in the Ujayalo 90 Network  He is a first batch student of SCC in workshop of Radio feature production. 

The ‘education’ I had at the SCC

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