This is a report published by Radio Regen in January 2013. It gives a snapshot of the community radio sector, and youth learning opportunities within the sector.

You can read the report on the web version – see Executive Summary and Table of Contents below – or you can download the PDF version here. If you’re looking for the processes and outcomes of the Connect:Transmit project, you could read the final report, or see the evaluation resources that were used in the project.


Executive Summary

This report examines existing practice in the community radio sector in relation to training for young people.  It draws on data collected in a nationwide online survey of 47 organisations, and follow-up phone interviews with 30 community radio organisations.  No such research has been undertaken in the UK community radio sector until now and it forms the foundation for a two year project funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation which aims to increase the capacity of the sector to support the development of young people.

A wide range of community radio organisations responded to the online survey, the vast majority of whom saw training as a key part of their remit to deliver social gain.

81% of the organisations surveyed said that they worked with young people, often those who have not thrived in traditional learning institutions.  55% of survey respondents work with young people following ‘non traditional pathways’, 48% with young people not in employment or training, 52% with young people with disabilities, and 23% with young people learning English as an additional language.

Community radio organisations appear to create a unique learning culture that is ‘different to school’ in a number of ways. Buildings are often situated in the heart of local communities and operate an open door policy.  The atmosphere is informal and many practitioners said that they try to create a ‘participatory and equal approach’.  In addition, community radio organisations are often sites of learning that bring together people from different generations, geographical communities, cultures and belief systems.

Community radio organisations can provide a space for young people to express themselves and be creative.  Young people have the freedom and autonomy they need to produce programmes that help them to feel recognised and represented in their communities.

The vast majority of community radio practitioners surveyed said that their training taught speaking and listening skills (89%) as well as radio production (93%).  Practitioners felt that community radio developed participants’ speaking and listening skills through conducting radio interviews, working in groups, learning to speak to different audiences, thinking about accent and dialect, expressing personal views, developing analytical skills, planning what to say, and learning about negotiation.

Practitioners felt that community radio helps young people to develop a range of employability skills and capacities as well as social skills relevant to their local communities and the wider world.  This includes media and digital literacies, such as ICT and social media, as well as ‘new’ literacies, such as learning how to learn.  Community radio organisations teach community awareness and run intergenerational projects which can be fundamentally important in changing the way that young people feel about themselves in relation to their community.

Common features of the pedagogical approaches adopted by trainers are the practical nature of the learning, the flexibility and tailoring of the training, and its inherent informality.  Practitioners lacked confidence in talking about these pedagogical approaches, suggesting the need to develop a shared language to talk more coherently about community radio training practices.

A key challenge to training delivery is that of funding.  The survey paints a picture of a sector in crisis, where workers fear for their jobs, or are working long hours for little or no pay.  Over three quarters of survey respondents said that their organisation was not financially secure beyond the next 6 months, which inevitably affects their ability to deliver training.

The community radio practitioners surveyed had developed a wide range of partnerships, including with schools, colleges, and other youth organisations.  Challenges in relation to this work included the limited staff time stations had to put into networking and building partnerships, and the fact that the partnerships developed were often for one-off projects, or without any long term financial commitment.  Developing relationships with schools was often particularly time-consuming in terms of negotiating with teachers and fitting in with the curriculum.

Whilst 59% of survey respondents said that they evaluate training projects with young people, many of the practitioners interviewed said that their evaluation strategies were often ad hoc and involved only asking young people what they thought of a project.  Organisations found evaluation challenging because they are short-staffed and collecting evidence is time-consuming, as well as not being aware of different evaluation techniques.

Only 39% of the organisations delivering training to young people provide accredited courses.  Over half of these organisations teach radio production awards, but other delivery includes key/ core skills courses, employability qualifications, community action awards, youth achievement awards and arts-based awards.  36% had developed their own in-house schemes of accreditation.  Many practitioners were put off by the complexity of the current accreditation landscape.

The phone survey of practitioners collected a range of ‘stories’ about the impact of community radio training on individual young people.  These stories are powerful and often moving, and highlight the need for the sector to move beyond anecdotal accounts and develop stronger evidence concerning outcomes.

In order to develop better practice in youth radio training, practitioners felt that they would benefit from a way of communicating with each other to share skills and advice on the delivery of training and working with young people successfully.  Several organisations felt that a bank of centralised resources would be immensely valuable.  This could include practical training guides, advice on policy and practice, and information about accreditation.

Practitioners were also positive about the creation of an online space for young broadcasters.  Further work is required here to find out from young people themselves whether this would be useful and supportive.  Most stations reported that young participants already make use of social networking sites – to promote their shows, communicate with audiences, and collaborate with staff members – which suggests that an online space for young broadcasters might be appropriate and valuable.

The report concludes that community radio organisations are able to deliver valuable ‘social gain’ by providing learning opportunities for young people.  However, the sector is very under-resourced and needs support to deliver these opportunities more effectively.

Recommendations include:

  • Developing shared resources for the use of the community radio sector, such as course content, routes to course accreditation, evaluation techniques
  • Supporting community radio stations to secure funding for training and develop partnership working with schools and colleges
  • Lobbying educators and policy makers about the benefits of youth community radio training and the fact that community radio is an under-resourced sector
  • Providing young broadcasters with an online space to share ideas and network with others
  • Supporting community radio practitioners to better understand and communicate about the work that they do with young people in order to enhance their discourse with other educators and funders.



Executive Summary

1. Introduction

2. Research methods

3. Overview of the sector

4. Community Radio and youth training

4.1 Training as a ‘food source’

4.2 A sector in crisis

4.3 Community radio and disadvantaged youth

5. Who do organisations work with?

6. Approaches and values in working with young people: Recognition and representation

7. The learning culture

8. The development of speaking and listening skills and capacities

8.1 Teaching speaking and listening skills

8.2 Interviewing

8.3 Group work, discussion and confidence

8.4 Speaking for different audiences

8.5 Accent and dialect

8.6 Expression/ voice

8.7 Analytical skills

8.8 Planning (what to say)

8.9 Negotiation and persuasion

9. The development of other skills and capacities

9.1 Employability Skills

9.2 Literacy and numeracy skills

9.3 Media literacy

9.4 New literacies

9.5 Digital literacies

10. The value of a ‘community’ approach

11. Training and pedagogical approaches

12. Who are the trainers?

13. Key challenges in training delivery

13.1 Working with formal organisations

13.2 Funding for training

13.3 Working with young people

13.4 Social aspects of radio work

14. Building partnerships

14.1 Positive partnerships

14.2 Challenges in relation to partnerships

15. Evaluation and monitoring

16. Accreditation

17. Young people and social media

18. Case studies

18.1 Young people with special needs: Siren FM

18.2 Takeover Week: SoundArt Radio

18.3 Young people in charge: Generate Radio

18.4 Underachieving at school: Somer Valley FM

18.5 A ‘safe’ space for expression: Drystone Radio

18.6 Representation and recognition: Sunny Govan

18.7 Engaging NEETs: ALL FM

18.8 Engaging vulnerable young people: Frome FM

19. Sector needs analysis

19.1 Practitioner needs

19.2 For young broadcasters

20. Conclusions and recommendations


Appendix A: List of organisations participating in phone survey

Appendix B: Questions for interviews with stations

Appendix C: References


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