Over the past ten years, youth radio projects have been popping up across the world in various shapes and forms. From Bolivia to Bangladesh, New York to New Delhi, and Kinshasa to Kuala Lumpur, radio stations are seeing the benefits of getting youth on the airwaves. By putting young people in the driver’s seat, they are creating opportunities for dialogue and growing their youth audiences.
Young people have a lot to say, but in many communities they do not have a forum to talk about their challenges, to voice their concerns, or to share their stories.
As media consumers, youth often feel neglected or misrepresented by mainstream media outlets. As participants in their communities, they often feel left out of public debate on issues that affect them. Radio can play an important role in reversing this trend by helping youth to represent themselves and to speak about issues that are important to them.
Radio reaches over 95% of the population worldwide. The global population has surpassed 7 billion with people under the age of 30 representing over half of this number*. Given these statistics, it is worthwhile for broadcasters to do the math and start providing more broadcasting for youth and by youth.
In the age of social media, wireless internet and mobile phones, one might ask, why radio for youth?
- Radio is a tool for talk
As Archbishop Desmond Tutu notes, “radio is the most important medium across the African continent. It’s where people get their news and information, and where issues are debated. Radio is where communities talk—where they discuss things that specifically affect them, and come up with solutions to their own problems.” Youth take to the radio airwaves to talk through sensitive or taboo issues, and to mobilize their communities to take action.
- Radio is cost-effective and easy to learn
Radio can be inexpensive to produce, broadcast, and distribute. It requires minimal technical expertise, and young people gain the conceptual and broadcast skills quickly. Even if they do not own their own radio, young people are often able to gain access to a radio for listening.
- Radio skills are life skills
Youth involvement in radio is not simply about training a new generation of broadcasters. Experience in radio reporting and broadcasting translates to a useable skill set with a wide range of real life applications. Learning to research, interview and broadcast boosts confidence in young people and builds their communication and critical thinking skills.
- Radio offers both a personal and shared experience
Radio is able to follow listeners from place to place, enabling moments of private, reflective, personal and collective listening.
Radio for Children
Children create great radio content. They are articulate, interesting and funny. So why are they so often forgotten in radio programming? Children’s radio advocate Michel Delorme discusses this issue in his article for World Radio Day. Read more...
- Media and Information Literacy
- Community Media
- UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
- UNICEF Reporting guidelines to protect at-risk children
- NORDICOM: International Clearinghouse on Children, Youth & Media
- Community Radio as Promoters of Youth Culture - Jessica Gustafsson
- International Federation of Journalists
Children's Rights and Media: Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Issues Involving Children
UNESCO Publications and Documents:
- Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Teachers
- Guidelines for Broadcasters on Promoting User-Generated Content and MIL
- Understanding information literacy: a primer
- Media education: a kit for teachers, students, parents and professionals
- Mapping media education policies in the world: visions, programmes and challenges
Young Broadcasters in Action
The Syrian Hour is a UNESCO-funded project that produces a bi-weekly radio programme aired on Yarmouk FM radio station in Irbid, northern Jordan where there is a large Syrian refugee population.