Selected Article

Title

Connecting communities through youth-led radio

Description

Abstract Connecting Communities through Youth-Led Radio Catherine Wilkinson This thesis explores the extent to which, and the ways in which, KCC Live, a volunteer youth-led community radio station situated in Knowsley, neighbouring Liverpool, UK, provides a space for young people to find and realise their voices. The body of geographical work on radio has predominantly focussed on large-scale geopolitical questions at the international scale. In particular, there has been a deficit of research considering community radio in the UK. Research from other countries is not easily transferable, due to the specific regulatory paradigms in different countries. This study takes a step towards remedying the neglect of community radio in geographical research in the UK. This research project adopts a participatory design in collaboration with young people at KCC Live. Mixed methods were employed, including: 18 months of observant participation; interviews and focus groups with volunteers; interviews with management at KCC Live and Knowsley Community College; a listener survey, listener diaries, and follow-up interviews. Accompanying this thesis are two co-produced audio artefacts: an audio documentary named ‘Community to me is…’, which explores young people’s musings on community, and a three-part radio series called ‘What we found’, which discusses the findings of this research in audio form. First, my research provides insight into a twofold vision of youth voice as both restricted and creative concurrently. This thesis shows that community radio is not a cure-all solution for disenfranchised and silenced young people, as young people at KCC Live work within a pre-censored idea of speech. Second, this thesis finds that young people conceptualise the KCC Live community in multiple ways. These include: friendships which constitute communities of choice; geographic communities within specific locales; the functioning of KCC Live as a community of practice; imagined communities of listeners; and virtual communities, formed through use of social media. This research therefore advances recent debates that shift notions of community away from static place-based understandings to more networked approaches. Third, this thesis demonstrates that young people are capable of learning skills, locating resources and building networks, thereby generating their own stocks of social capital. It therefore challenges the dominant perception within the literature of young people as receivers, rather than producers, of social capital.