Creating Community Links Through Local Radio

Written by Fiona Sartain     March 1 2019 at 6:13 PM

In Peru’s Cotabambas province, Apurímac region, access to communication infrastructure has traditionally been limited. There was little to no access to fixed phone lines, cellular phone access and television signals, and there were only a couple of radio stations which lacked structured programming. This presented a lack of opportunities for the community to communicate and promote local culture.


To meet this need, the Las Bambas mine launched Radio Surphuy (102.7 FM) on 10 September 2010 in a public ceremony. It was the first time a marathon and cycling tournament was broadcast on the radio in the region, with participants from all six districts of Cotabambas. The radio’s programming focuses on four areas; the promotion and celebration of local culture, information sharing, education and other entertainment. The station also became available on AM frequencies (810 AM) in April 2012.


It was one of the first experiences of participatory community radio in Peru and stands out as approximately 80 percent of its programming is in Quechua, the native language of the Cotabambas province, with the remaining 20 percent delivered in Spanish. Since the beginning, Radio Surphuy has aimed to provide a service to the community and remains an easy means of communication for the entire population.


In order to promote local culture, Radio Surphuy organises an annual singing and traditional music competition called ‘Llaqtanchispa Takiynin’ which translates to ‘the singing of our people’, as well as the musical contest ‘Canto a Mi Cotabambas’ or ‘I sing to My Cotabambas,’ in which teachers from Cotabambas and neighbouring Grau provinces compete to find a winner.


Radio Surphuy has managed to position itself as one of the most popular stations in the province thanks to its varied programming. Promotional campaigns are frequently held in communities and reward listeners with prizes or the opportunity to get on the air.


The first broadcast program on the station was ‘Willarikuy’ which in Quechua means ‘to inform’ and continues to run from six until eight in the morning on weekdays.  As part of the program, local authorities, leaders and the general population participate to share news about activities occurring in their communities.  


Another popular program is Micrófono Abierto which in Spanish translates to ‘Open Microphone’ and offers a space for local people to call in and discuss topics that are of interest to them, and the participatory program ‘P’unchayniykipi’ (Quechua: birthday) is a chance for people to wish friends or family from across the province a happy birthday.


In order to promote local carnivals, which is the main cultural events in the province, the authorities in the six districts that make up Cotabambas organise music contests to help preserve the traditional carnival celebrations of each individual community. Radio Surphuy is the sponsor and broadcaster of all these contests and the carnival events throughout the province.  The station also supports public institutions throughout the province, including the UGEL (Unidad de Gestión Educativa Local, Spanish for ‘Local Education Unit’), health centres and agricultural agencies among others and helps them communicate their campaigns and create links that benefit the communities.


In February 2019, Radio Surphuy launched its new website (, with the objective of better communicating local news, campaigns and various activities happening across Cotabambas. Thanks to this new digital platform, the broadcast can be listened to live around the world. Radio Surphuy is now on social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter. By moving to digital technologies the station is now hoping to extend the reach and share the unique culture of the Cotabambas region.



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