About Connect:Transmit

Connect:Transmit has been a national (UK) project to evaluate and increase the capacity of community radio to develop young people’s speaking and listening skills. It engaged around 100 young people aged between 11 and 18, from a range of backgrounds across the UK, and trained them in community radio skills in a variety of settings – including GCSE delivery, extra-curricular activity, and informal drop-in sessions. Additionally, as part of Connect:Transmit, a survey was undertaken of youth learning opportunities in community radio in the UK – the first survey of its kind.

Connect:Transmit is a two-year project funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. It is co-ordinated by Radio Regen, a charity supporting the community radio sector, working in partnership with four UK community radio stations – ShmuFM (Aberdeen), BCB (Bradford), Future Radio (Norwich) and Preston FM.

 

Examples of work

Shmu FM in Aberdeen worked intensively with a cohort of young people (11-18) to produce weekly live radio shows prepared and presented entirely by young people. A strong ethos of the station is to empower the young people to train each other in a peer-learning environment, in addition to setting the topics of their radio shows, which have included sexual health, education and local public services. By the end of the Connect:Transmit training, there were 25 young people volunteering at ShmuFM on a weekly basis, broadcasting a total of 8 hours of live FM radio every week.

Future Radio in Norwich forged a partnership with the Norwich International Youth Project (NIYP) to deliver radio training to a group of unaccompanied asylum seekers. Training was on an informal basis – all the young people were male, aged between 14 and 18, and none were native English speakers. Activities covered included: editing skills, interviewing techniques and skills, vox-pops in Norwich city centre, and general communication skills (e.g. how to talk with guests, and how to give and receive constructive criticism), and a number of radio packages were produced from this work and broadcast on air. As a result of Connect:Transmit, the young people have become significantly more interested and integrated in their communities, and are using their experience to become active UK citizens.

 

Impact

Connect:Transmit has had a positive impact on young people. 90% of the participating young people reported an overall improvement in their speaking and listening skills, with an increase in confidence being the biggest reported change across all of the young people at the different stations. The young people cited the strong motivating factor of “being on the radio”, and have commented on the benefit of this project on their personal skills in everyday life, as well as their enhanced employability prospects.

 

[Young person at Preston FM]: “I think what we are learning is that preparation and teamwork are important… when you’ve got something that’s ‘going live’ you’ve got no room for mistakes so you’ve got to know what’s coming next; that running order is really important.”

[Young person at Shmu FM]: “I listen more because, before [the project] … someone would be talking and I’d just start imagining totally other things, ‘cos I really could not be bothered listening, but now I’ll try and listen and come back with a reply so it doesn’t really seem like I’m being rude.”

 

These benefits have been reinforced by the trainers:

[Trainer at Shmu FM]: “I think friendship is probably one of the biggest things, but I think that a lot of the communication skills that young people learn when they’re here is that they’ve got to be very clear. They’ve got to speak clearly on air, but they also have to work as a team, so speaking clearly and asking people to follow their instructions and following other people’s instructions is important.”

[Trainer at Preston FM]: “Our kids have said things [like]: ‘nobody listens to us.’ Well, this gives them a chance to have a platform where people potentially will listen to them. And it will give them more of a motivation to say it right, to say it properly, to do it well.”

 

Teachers have also been positive about the impact of the project on the young people.

[Teacher in Preston]: “When you go right back to the very first sessions, you wouldn’t dream where some of these students are today…. you wouldn’t dream they would have ever got this far.”

[Teacher in Bradford]: “In school when we do practicals, the kids are sort of doing mock-ups of the experience, whereas it’s been invaluable to go to a real radio station and to see how it actually works.”

 

In addition to the beneficial impact of Connect:Transmit on the young people, the participating community radio stations have forged successful partnerships with local schools and youth and other organisations, increasing their capacity to deliver services and projects of benefit to their communities.

The initial Connect:Transmit survey found that UK community radio organisations (81% of respondees) are delivering valuable social gain by providing learning opportunities for young people, and can create a unique learning culture that is ‘different to school’ in a number of ways.  However, the sector is under-resourced and, without better resourcing, more stations will risk closure and the ability to deliver these benefits will be lost.

Community radio, with its commitment to social gain, not only offers a platform to ‘have a voice’; it supports the learning of skills that are useful on a personal, social and professional level. The Connect:Transmit partners believe strongly that this work can, and should, be continued and expanded, bringing the benefits of community radio to as wide a range of people as possible.

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