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Abstract

One of the consequences of greater access and spread of communication technologies is that communities now expect and demand interaction, including in disaster communication. Local communities actually have the local capacity to answer demands in the form of local media. Unfortunately, this capacity tends to be ignored and people easily assume that the supremacies of social media can answer all challenges of disaster communication. Jalin Merapi (Jaringan Informasi Lingkar Merapi) is an information network in the Merapi circle, which was established as an attempt to effectively respond to the Merapi eruption. This paper focuses on the Jalin Merapi as a case study, in order to capture how community radio took important roles in fulfilling needs for rapid and accurate information in responding to the 2010 Merapi eruption. The Jalin Merapi, as a community-based information network, developed collaboration with five community radio stations and local communities. They were involved as reliable information sources, mediators, and verifiers. Because they were being run by individuals who were also part of the local community, community radio stations had close relationships with the communities and accurately represented local content. However, community radio stations have the disadvantage of limited coverage. In Jalin Merapi, therefore, the community radio’s advantages were combined with social media’s capabilities in a media convergence. Furthermore, since community members had various levels of technology adaption, the community radio stations played another role as mediators of bottom-up participation in the Jalin Merapi’s media convergence. The combination successfully spread information about refugees’ real needs within and outside the local communities. This paper will further explore community radio stations’ roles in disaster communication by emphasizing principles of voluntary participation, collaboration, and media convergence to respond to a disaster.

Keywords: community radio, community participation, disaster communication, jalin merapi