Community Radio is Participatory Media

Community Radio is Participatory Media

Community radio: what is it?

The main principle of community radio is to respect people of all nations and human races, despite age, faith or sex, to broadcast different music to different people, to transfer different opinions. It’s an opportunity to be heard to those, who are commonly not taken into account: national minorities, women and youth. Community radio is a non-profit media and it is run by volunteers. It plays an important role in public and social life of a community, and though in different countries the community radio has different peculiarities and even different names (community, public radio, third sector of media), but the existence of this sector of it is still important for every country of the world and Australia is no exception. Community radio has social purposes such as to educate, to inform and to entertain the members of community. The organization which deals with the community radio stations in Australia is called Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA).

The broadcasting on the community radio stations is lead on in a language of the community, which have founded a station, even if it is regional dialect or mixture.

A brief history of the community radio

It’s practically impossible to imagine our life without community or FM radio nowadays. But many years ago you could hear only commercial or official radio.

The commercial radio is a profit institution and it is obvious that it expresses the opinion of those who pay. Ordinary people do not trust them.

Official radio broadcasts the position of a state or country authority. And there was no any radio station for people who have different point of view to urgent questions.

Everything has changed in 1933, when American scientist Edwin Armstrong has invented FM radio. It uses absolutely different technology of broadcasting versus commercial or official; and that is why it is called third sector of media. The technology of community radio broadcasting is based upon the frequency of waves, minimizing the natural atmosphere interferences. But within a few years the range of broadcasting, proposed by E. Armstrong, was changed. That was a great disappointment for the inventor (WEFT FM, 2008).

In 1940-s the first fully licensed radio station was founded by journalists in Australia, but community radio remained unrecognized by authority. The flowering of FM stations has begun only 1960-s. From that time a new radio stations have appeared and a great number of people became the listeners of community radio. Members of many communities have founded their own radio stations (Working Group Report, 2007).

A growing developing of the FM radio has continued in 1990-s. During that time the network of radio stations have expanded and now you can switch the community radio almost in every country. Now the progress of radio goes ahead and we have the Internet radio stations.

How did it come about us?

1960-s was a very specific period. That was a time of new tries, of experiments. During this time a new community radio stations were founded in different countries. It was in this decade, when the first real station was opened in U.S. The name of it was KRAB, it was founded in Seattle. Australians have also supported the idea of new broadcasting and the first community radio station in Australia was founded at the end of 1960-s. A lot of supporters of new broadcasting were among youth. Young people are easier to perceive all new. They were attracted by the idea of liberty of broadcasting, of universal access. At the same time the first educational programs have appeared in the universities and colleges (WEFT FM, 2008).

Participatory radio

Community radio is organized, founded and ruled by the communities. Though the community radio is a non-profit organization, the main goal of it is a community service. The volunteers from the community found the radio station and the members of community are the participants of the process of broadcasting. The topics of programs can be varied, there is the only rule it must be interesting for the community. The programs are controlled by the community, but it doesn’t mean they should obviously have roots in the community (Basis Radio, 2002).

The role of youth in the community radio

There are a lot of community radio stations; a specific role among them belongs to the youth community radio. Only these stations display the point of view of young people and provide them an air to discuss essential problems of youth. That is a great possibility to express thoughts and to raise problems. The greater part of such stations is founded in colleges and so they are called campus-radio. It exists in every university. Both the listeners and journalists are the students of this university. Social, political, moral spheres of life are the principal topics of broadcasting (Working Group Report, 2007).

They can say what they think

For example, very important problem nowadays is a youth alcoholic drinking. Public authorities can’t regulate the drinking of alcohol among young people. They are not sure what to do, to increase or decrease the age of drinking. The supporters of alcoholic drinking age decrease give reasons that youth still use alcohol violating any laws and prohibitions. Their opponents operate information about different diseases which youth alcoholic drinking can cause. This problem concerns youth and we have to hear their voice. In open broadcasting they have a chance to be heard, to participate in the process of decision making and to provide their reasons. They have an opportunity to express their opinion: do they really need such permission or maybe they will prefer to protect their health from alcohol damage and from the aggression of their peers. We have a dozen of such important questions: drugs, violence, sexual debauchery, homosexuals, racism etc. Young journalists gather information and provide discussion sessions. The participants and the listeners of such discussions have a great chance to find a solution of the problem. If you have information you are ready to any difficulties. So expressing of student thoughts is a primary function of community radio (National Campus and Community Radio Association).

Another important problem which is often raised on the community radio broadcasting is the environmental protection. Young people are the future of our nation and only they are responsible in what world we will live: world of waste or green trees. The pollution of air, land, sea and ocean has to be stopped, and the young people can help to do it. Community radio stations raise this vital question in the air and give a voice to youth, students and everyone who cares.

Very urgent question for young people is a problem of health and especially the question of overweight. Radio programs can provide some helpful tips for girls and boys how they can always stay in a good physical shape.

No less important for young generation is a problem of healthy food. Radio can teach people and make them informed in approximately any question. So we can see that the community radio program is an instrument of influence on the public opinion and very powerful instrument.

On the radio young people can discuss the political direction of the countries, new law and new social programs. Youth can even make a proposition in hope that they will be heard (George Lessard, 2006).

Every day we can hear the news on the air of every radio station, either commercial or public. On the youth community radio stations, or campus radio stations, the latest news of the university is broadcasted beside the most important country and even world news.

Work on the radio

While working as journalists on the community radio, students may teach the main principles of this trade and to have a nice practice. The main editor of a campus-radio is usually a professional journalist who teaches youth. In such a way we can educate a new generation of professional journalists. No wonder community radio stations in universities are supported by the official authority.

Students (young journalists) can hold the discussion, make reports, interview. Community radio is a huge arena for creative development of youth, for growth and benefits. Only the most gifted students can work on the radio (UNESKO, 2001).

A practice of student working on the radio helps our country to receive absolutely new type of youth: that is people who concern the important questions in the life of the country.

The principal of joining the education with the work on the radio is common for many students. They goal is not to gain many but to do something helpful to other people, to be useful, to be necessary. On much community radio stations there are special programs where a young person can call and share his private problem and have an opportunity to receive a support and understanding (National Campus and Community Radio Association).

Community radio is an irreplaceable social institution; only on the air of these radio stations you can hear the point of view of different people, of everyone who needs to express his thoughts. It a great honor to serve people and the community radio fulfils this task.

Community radio as a source of entertainment

Also broadcasting on the community radio is an opportunity for the young talented people to show themselves. Musicians, singers, bands may propose to the listeners their new masterpieces. On another hand, students have a chance to hear the latest trends of music and to keep pace with the times. The music is art, and changes consequently, every year. Different people have different musical tastes. And the specific feature of the community radio is the broadcasting of the most demanded compositions. It is clear that national minorities will prefer to listen to music in their native language and young people will prefer modern songs. So the community radio satisfies the tastes of its listeners (Basis Radio, 2002).

Youth prefer to listen to dynamic and energetic music, very often it is dance music. And we have a number of community radio stations that broadcast only this type of music.

There are a lot of entertainment programs on the air. In one of them you can congratulate your friends with a fresh musical composition; in another you are given an opportunity to welcome new friends.

An opportunity of communication in a live broadcasting with a famous youth stars is also very interesting. Very often these stars are the students of the same university which were able to realize their dreams.

Another important function of the community radio is educational. Different thematic programs can broaden the horizons of youth, provide new knowledge, educate.

Why we need community radio

People trust the community radio stations and we can use it for the useful purpose. The impact of the community radio on people is extraordinary. People believe that they can participate in the process of broadcasting and that is right. With the help of community radio stations we can form moral values of young people. Very useful is to show then examples of people courage, brave, self-sacrifice, endurance, patriotism etc. It is important to a teenager, who is in a habit to compare him with other (George Lessard, 2006).

Our state programs must support the broadcasting of the community radio stations and help them to solve the main problems. One of the most difficult questions for the most community radio stations is the search of sources for founding. Mostly, the founders make charitably contribution and that helps the stations to stay in the air. Another source of financing is advertising. But the environment in which community radio stations have to exist is still not always favorable.

Youth community radio stations are state founded. But, in my opinion, our country has also to encourage the opening of new radio stations. And it would be nice to facilitate the procedure of obtaining licenses.

The main idea of community radio is to give a voice and to hear everyone. It is essential for those who are usually not taken into consideration. The establishment of the third sector of media decided a very important task and the community radio become the ears and the voice of the minors, oppressed and suppressed (Working Group Report, 2007).

Our country has been always at the forefront of innovations and the introduction of community radio was no exception. Australians supported the idea of freedom of thoughts and were constantly trying to provide it to the uttermost corners of the planet.


Community Radio Association of Australia.

Community Radio: Its Impact and Challenges to its Development. Working Group Report, 2007, 28 p.

Community Radio Handbook. UNESKO.

George Lessard. Role of Community Radio in Connecting People. Retrieved from:

A Short History of the Community radio. WEFT 90, 1 FM, 2008. Retrieved from:  

What is Participatory Media? Basis Radio, 2002. Retrieved from:

National Campus and Community Radio Association. Retrieved from: