Conclusions and recommendations

20. Conclusions and recommendations

This report highlights the great importance of learning and training provision by community radio organisations in delivering the ‘social gain’ that is key to the definition of community radio in the UK.

Many of the organisations surveyed delivered radio training to young people, often those who have not thrived in traditional learning institutions.  Community radio creates a unique learning culture which is generally informal and participatory and allows space for people traditionally ‘locked out’ of mainstream media to develop their own voice.  Community radio organisations bring together diverse communities of learners and often deliver intergenerational learning projects.

Young people engaged in learning in community radio stations develop their speaking and listening skills and improve their confidence and assertiveness, as well as learning new digital and media literacies.  The experience both increases their employability and encourages and enables them to be more aware of their local communities and to become more active citizens.

The community radio practitioners that we spoke to had powerful stories to tell about the youth radio work that they deliver and its impact on young people.  Some stations conduct good evaluations of the learning projects that they deliver, but many organisations either do no evaluation at all or only do so in an ad hoc fashion.

Many community radio stations are struggling to survive in the current funding climate, which inevitably has an impact on their ability to engage young people.  Partnership working with schools and colleges could maximise the learning opportunities provided by the community radio sector, but such partnerships are time-consuming to develop.  This is difficult for staff who are already working long hours for little or no pay, particularly given that partnerships are often short-term and/ or of little or no financial value to stations.

Key aspects of the pedagogical approaches used by community radio practitioners included learning through ‘hands on’ interactive practical work, and being flexible and informal. Many of the practitioners we spoke to were not very confident talking about their own pedagogical approaches and practices and were not familiar with the discourse of media education.  Many stations provided accredited training for young people, but more did not.  Those who didn’t said that they would like to know more about accreditation but were unsure how to go about this.

Organisations and individual young people often used social media to publicise their shows and the station.  However, very few organisations used social media to enable young people to talk to each other about their radio productions, or to link them up to wider networks of support in relation to their work.

The following conclusions and recommendations are drawn from our review of the youth learning opportunities currently provided by the community radio sector:


1. Community radio stations require support for the sector to deliver more effective training to young people.  This support might encompass:

  • A set of resources for the sector that includes advice on getting started, content for courses, how to evaluate and monitor courses, how to accredit community radio courses
  • A place for practitioners to share their ideas and courses


2. The community radio sector needs advice and support in relation to funding and partnership working for training.  This might encompass:

  • Advice on linking radio work with school and college curricula
  • Lobbying work with educators about the effectiveness of youth community radio training as an educational tool


3. Young broadcasters would benefit from an online space where they can share ideas about content, get feedback on material that they have produced, and network with other young broadcasters and those already working in the radio industry


4. Community radio organisations need support to be able to communicate more effectively about what they do in relation to youth radio training.  This support could be provided to the sector through:

  • Further research looking at how making radio can support young people to develop skills and capacities
  • A resource that helps community radio organisations to understand some of the pedagogical theory that they are adopting in order to talk about what they do to other educators and funders
  • A set of resources that presents the ‘unique selling points’ of radio training and making

5. Policy makers should be made aware of the benefits of youth community radio training and take note that community radio is both an under-used and under-resourced sector.  We feel strongly that without powerful advocates, the capacity and effectiveness of the community radio sector is threatened, which has significant consequences for the range, depth, passion and meaningfulness of learning experiences available to young people across the country.




Appendix A: List of organisations participating in phone survey



Academy FM Folkestone, Kent
ALL FM South/Central Manchester
Awaz FM Glasgow
Bradford Community Broadcasting Bradford, West Yorkshire
CreateTeam Tameside, Greater Manchester
Crescent Radio Rochdale, Greater Manchester
Drystone Radio Cowling, North Yorkshire
Fife Youth Radio Leven, Fife
Forest FM Verwood and East Dorset
FromeFM Frome, Somerset
Future Radio Norwich, Norfolk
Generate Radio Duns, Berwickshire
Gravity FM Grantham, Lincolnshire
Higher Rhythm/Sine FM Doncaster, South Yorkshire
Hillz FM Coventry, West Midlands
Mon FM Isle of Anglesey
Point FM North Wales coast and Vale of Clwyd
Preston FM Preston, Lancashire
RadioReverb Brighton, East Sussex
Redruth Radio Redruth, Cornwall
Siren FM Lincoln, Lincolnshire
Somer Valley FM Norton Radstock and Wansdyke, Somerset
SoundArt Radio Totnes, Devon
Station House Media Unit/shmuFM Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire
Sunny Govan Community Radio Govan, Glasgow
Takeover Radio Leicester, Leicestershire
The Voice Barnstaple, North Devon
Voice FM and Unity 101 Southampton, Hampshire
Wythenshawe FM Wythenshawe, Manchester
Youthcomm Worcester, Worcestershire






Appendix B: Questions for interviews with stations


The interviews were semi-structured but these questions (and the themes represented here) formed the basis of the discussions we had with stations.


  1. How would you describe your organisation?


  1. Funding situation


  1. Do you work with young people?  Can you talk about the kinds of projects that are currently running?/ projects that you have run in the past?


  1. Can you tell us more about your students? (Eg ages, abilities, demographic data)


  1. How do you tend to deliver your training?

a)        Practicalities eg group size, where does it take place, when?

b)        Training models/ pedagogy – active learning? Critical learning?  Collaborative learning?

c)         Learning culture – is it different to school?  How is it different?  What do young people value about the CR station as a site for learning?


  1. What do you explicitly teach when working with young people? (in terms of key skills, knowledge, capacities?)


Specifically in relation to:

    • speaking and listening skills
    • employability skills
    • digital literacies (eg use of social media, using web effectively)
    • confidence and assertiveness
    • community awareness


    • literacy and numeracy
    • background to community radio
    • radio production
    • audio editing
    • intergenerational skills
    • music production
    • creativity
    • problem solving


  1. Which speaking and listening skills/ capacities do you think CR training can help to develop/ improve for young people?
    • Improved confidence in speaking and listening
    • Talking to/ presenting to a group
    • Discussing/speaking in a group
    • Talking to new people
    • Interview skills
    • Listening
    • Sensitivity to others
    • Speaking with individuals
    • Self expression
    • Improved negotiation
    • Finding a voice
    • Critical thinking skills
    • Adapting spoken language for different situations


  1. Do you deliver accreditation as part of your training?  What accreditation?  What are the concerns/ challenges you have around accreditation (can ask all of those who do/ do not deliver accredited training)  Also eg why do you not deliver accreditation?



  1. What evaluation strategies have you used for your projects with young people?
    • Recording attendance, demographic data, etc.
    • Tutor assessment
    • Distance travelled evaluation techniques e.g. Outcome Star
    • Surveys/ questionnaires
    • Focus groups
    • Learning journals
    • Blogs
    • Shared social network
    • Audio/ video diaries
    • Interviews with participants/ stakeholders


What are the issues/ challenges for you in relation to evaluation?


  1. Do you use social networking sites with young people?  Which do you use?  How do you use them?/ for what? How successful is this? How do you encourage young people to use them?


  1. Who do you work in partnership with?  What works well? What are the issues that you find challenging in relation to partnership working?


  1. Tell us more about your trainers?  Do they have teaching qualifications/ experience?  Broadcasting experience?  What kind of training/ development would be of benefit to them?


  1. How does training fit into your business plan?  What revenue do you receive from training?


  1. What would be of (most) benefit to you in an online toolkit/ space for support in developing your training with young people?

Appendix C: References


ASDAN Employment and Skills Forum, Virtual think tank Survey results, Autumn 2012.  Retrieved from


Cope, B. and Kalantzis, M.  (2000) Multiliteracies: literacy learning and the design of social futures.  London: Routledge


Day, R. (2009). Community Radio in Ireland: Participation and Multi-Flow Communication. Cresskill, New Jersey: Hampton Press


Enyon, R. and Geniets, A. (2012) On the Periphery? Understanding Low and Discontinued Internet Use Amongst Young People in Britain. Oxford Internet Institute, August 2012


Lewis, P. and Jones, S. (2006) From the Margins to the Cutting Edge: Community Media and Empowerment.  London: Hampton Press.


Lewis, P. and Mitchell, C. (2012) Speak Up! Evaluation report, November 2012


Manchester, H. (2008) Learning through engagement in community media design.  Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Manchester.


Ofcom(2012) Communications Market Report.  Retrieved from


Rushton, K. (2012) Local radio at threat from Global’s takeover of GMG Radio.  Daily Telegraph, 17 August, 2012


van Vuuren, K. (2006) Community broadcasting and the enclosure of the public sphere. Media, Culture & Society, 28 3: 379-392



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