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December 11, 2009

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People's radio knits community, finds lost dogs, does good deeds

HANGZHOU'S only residential radio station unites 3,000 households in Hemu community and broadcasts news about weather emergencies, missing persons, daily happenings, health tips and good deeds, Xu Wenwen tunes in. This is Hemu people's radio broadcasting for you. Today's main items are ..." That's what comes from loudspeakers every day at 6pm in the Hemu residential community of 3,000 households in northern Hangzhou.

The radio station is the city's only strictly residential broadcaster, founded around six years ago.

The half-hour show broadcast from the community offices on loudspeakers now has a huge fan base, and as many as 30 speakers line up to say their brief bit on the air every day.

The broadcasts are mostly notices, weather advisories, traffic reports, pleas for help and happenings around the community. It includes reports on missing persons, children gone astray, lost dogs, missing items, cars blocking the street, tips on environmental protection and health.

It's run by one announcer, Sun Ying, who graduated last year majoring in broadcasting and went to work right away at the station.

Last winter's big snow in Hangzhou left more than 40 centimeters on the roads in Hemu area and community organizers lined up 50 people for snow removal.

But after Sun broadcast a call for help, hundreds of residents flooded into community offices, ready to help. Shovels were handed out and when they ran out, bamboo sticks were given to residents to knock the snow from tree branches and sweet osmanthus bushes.

On the same day a wedding was scheduled but the bridegroom's car, en route to pick up the bride, was blocked by heavy snow at the community gate.

The bride's father called the station for help and speakers broadcast an appeal. As a result, hundreds of people cleared a way so the bride and bridegroom could meet and nuptials could proceed. And nearly a thousand blooming osmanthus bushes were saved from crushing snow.

The radio has quite a history of helping.

One day a mentally disturbed young man went into a frenzy and beat his father with a stick. People trying to intervene were also beaten. Finally a neighbor named Chen Zhiming stepped in, struggled with the deranged man and ended the violence. He was wounded, however, and his clothing ripped.

After a report was broadcast, Chen became a hero and residents even came to the district office to donate money for Chen's medical bills.

Officials in Hemu residential community were inspired by his heroism and created a 5,000-yuan (US$732) Anti-Crime Foundation.

The idea behind the broadcasts was to disseminate important community information, which otherwise would have to be physically posted so the 3,000 households could read it.

But now everyone in the area can hear the broadcasts and get involved.

"The radio station's success exceeds our expectations," says Li Xiujuan, director of the Hemu residential community office. "It promotes community involvement and represents a healthy trend. People are interested in what and who are on the radio.

"Doing good deeds and getting reported on the radio are motivating people," Li adds.

Announcer and station chief Sun says: "Many things motivated us to report, like children who had wandered off, lost and found, and too many drivers honking their horns. Now there's less horn-honking and we get many letters of thanks because the station has helped people in many ways and improve the community.

"Some people may think that it's a waste for a college graduate like me to do this kind of social work," says Sun. "But I feel happy in helping others. Even the smallest stage can show one's talent."


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