AMARC Europe as part of the Grassroots Radio Project wants to share the statement of the project for World Radio Day 2020 and wishes all project members and partners a Happy World Radio Day”

For this occasion, the project team has produced several video clips and released a press statement. The clips are made in English, Romanian and Portuguese, in representation of the three countries in which the project is being piloted. These short clips show the diversity that the project entails, including the auxiliary use of Text To Speech technologies.

Press Release: WE ARE DIVERSITY. WE ARE (GRASSROOTS) RADIO!

The Grassroots Radio project joins its voice with community radio stations worldwide to celebrate World Radio Day 2020. According to UNESCO: radio is a powerful medium for celebrating humanity in all its diversity and constitutes a platform for democratic discourse. At the global level, radio remains the most widely consumed medium. This unique ability to reach out the widest audience means radio can shape a society’s experience of diversity, stand as an arena for all voices to speak out, be represented and heard. Radio stations should serve diverse communities, offering a wide variety of programs, viewpoints and content, and reflect the diversity of audiences in their organizations and operations.”

The Internet has helped to bring people together from all over the world, but it has not helped neighborhoods or communities nearly as well. The Grassroots Radio project is piloting solutions for community information platforms and media pluralism, working to lower the barriers to start and sustain a community radio station, create regional and European-wide networks of stations that can pool community-level resources, co-innovate collaborative media services, increase the permeability and impact of those stations through a combination of existing digital and nondigital technologies

The Grassroots Radio project is diversity: diversity in the consortium of partners (academic, commercial and non-profit NGO partners), diversity in the approach to new forms of interaction between mobile telephony and traditional radio, diversity in the engagement process of remote communities in Romania, Ireland and Portugal. As an ICT-based project, Grassroots Radio is proud to be diverse in the gender balance of consortium members as well, operating within a field – that of ICT – which still suffers from strong gender gaps.

The community radio movement is different from the public and commercial broadcasting sectors, but also diverse within the non-profit sector itself: locally rooted antennas, campus radios, city radios or rural radios, religious radios, socially driven experiences, information or simply entertainment experiences, all this represents the diversity of the sector

According to Chris Csikszentmihalyi, the Grassroots radio project coordinator, “the diversity of the project is especially evident with the experimental side of the use of new technologies, including the auxiliary use of Text To Speech technologies, tailored on the needs of local communities and local languages including Romanian, Madeiran Portuguese and Gaelic Irish.”

Nowadays independent, local and community-oriented journalism is more and more exposed to political and economic threats and pressure. In this context, community media remain crucial actors and articulation platforms to ensure the participation of diverse communities in public discussion, provide access to local information and give a voice to underrepresented communities.

The Grassroots Radio project consortium wishes our colleagues and friends around the World a happy World Radio Day 2020!

Grassroots Radio has been presented at the Ethnographies of Collaborative Economi(es) Conference, which took place in Edinburgh (UK) on October 25, 2019. Mariacristina Sciannamblo (AMARC Europe) discussed the paper titled “Co-designing collaborative care work through ethnography”, co-authored with Roberto Cibin (M-ITI), Petra Žišt (M-ITI), Chris Csíkszentmíhalyi (M-ITI), and Maurizio Teli (Aalborg University). The paper addresses a number of issues – such as the importance of language for community engagement, the relationship between digital and physical environments, and commonality – as they emerge from a conversation between two H2020 CAPS projects, Grassroots Radio and Commonfare.

The conference was hosted in the fascinating setting of the College of Art at the University of Edinburgh, and has welcomed European researchers from many disciplines who are currently conducting ethnographic studies of practices, cultures, socio-technical systems and lived experiences of collaborative economies.

The event has been supported by the COST Action “From Sharing to Caring: Examining the Socio-Technical Aspects of the Collaborative Economy” (CA16121, 2017 – 2021), which is nurturing a network of actors (academic researchers, policy makers, practitioners) who are working to develop models of collaborative economy and platforms as well as to assess the social and technological implications of the collaborative economy through a practice-focused approach.

Conference proceedings are available at this link.

AMARC joined the 6th Conference of the Radio Research Section of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA), which was held in the lovely setting of the University of Siena (Italy), on September 19-21.

Several interesting keynote speeches and pieces of research have been presented, highlighting the variety and vivacity of the radio sector across and beyond Europe. The first keynote speech was held by David Fernandez Quijada, Manager of the Media Intelligence Service, the market research unit of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). He provided some interesting data about the situation of radio in Europe. In the EBU area, there are more than 12 thousand radio stations. Around the 90% of this group is composed by analogue FM stations, and the digital ones are, at the moment, just about 15 hundred (a significant majority of them are DAB+ stations). Most of the European stations are national, with only 120 international cases.

Passing to the radio consumption habits, Fernandez Quijada stated that in 2018, European citizens listened to the radio, on average, 2 hours and 22 minutes per day: these are 4 minutes less than the previous year and 14 minutes less than 5 years before (2013). People are still using this media, but the time spent on it has been decreasing. This trend is also more evident among the European youth: in 2018 they listened, on average, 1 hour and 26 minutes per day of radio: 5 minutes less than the previous year and 20 minutes less than 5 years ago. The European citizens reached weekly by radio are still a big group, the 84% (which corresponds to 420 million listeners), but also, in this case, there is a reduction (-1.7%) compared to 2013.

It is interesting to know that radio is considered the most trusted medium in the majority of the European countries, with the difference of Hungary, Serbia and Greece that put the Internet at the first place, while Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey chose the television.

Additionally, AMARC Europe presented a paper together with other partners in the context of the Grassroots Radio project. The paper, titled “Fostering Community Radio: the Grassroots Radio project”, discusses the activities and challenges of co-designing community radios in rural areas.

On Thursday 5th and Friday 6th of September 2019, the Grassroots Radio consortium celebrated the third general assembly of the project, hosted in the friendly building of 11.11.11. – the coalition of NGOs, unions, movements and various solidarity groups in Flanders (Dutch speaking Northern part of Belgium) – in Brussels. The meeting has seen participation of all the members of the consortium and been arranged by AMARC Europe.

11.11.11 headquarters

The first day updates concerning the activities in the different communities have been shared by local partners. John Walsh from Bere Island Project Club (BIPG) reported about the activities and efforts they put in place in order to foster community engagement with the radio. The community radio has started to broadcast the mass, supported by West Cork FM. The mass has been broadcasted in particular for those who cannot leave the house and for patients hosted in the community hospital. This was a very positive action benefiting Bere Island’s community.

As for the setup of the radio stations in Romania, local partners ActiveWatch and MedAlert have informed about the two radio stations broadcasting 24/7 in the two communities of – Sfantu Gheorghe and Vârvoru de Jos – with a commercial schedule and 25 volunteers involved. 3600 songs have been inputted to be broadcasted. The shows are different and are aimed at specific populations in the community. For example, in the community of Sfantu Gheorghe, there is a show in Ukrainian-Romanian language, with different languages spoken.

The radio community engagement in the Portuguese island of Madeira is also rather lively and in progress, with two communities involved: Curral das Freiras and Estreito. Radio shows have been started in the former, with live interviews from the community and first experimentations with the text-to-speech (TTS) technology set up.

After the updates from the local pilots in Romania, Ireland and Portugal, the meeting went on with some exercises for the consortium members to get familiar with the evaluation framework arranged by the Irish partner University College Cork. Then, updates from the technical partner RootIO have been shared in order to collectively check up and discuss the improvements achieved with the work performed by the RootIO team. After one year from the beginning of the project, Jude and Andreea (the RootIO guys) have constantly gone back and forth and bring the technology to a stable level that the consortium can build from. Some technical issues – e.g. weakness of connectivity in some areas – have been discussed in order to reduce as much as possible the gap between communities’ expectations from the project and the results that a research action such as Grassroots Radio can concretely achieve. Positive news has been shared by CEREPROC about the development of the speech synthesis voices in English, Romanian, and Portuguese. Scenarios about the implementation of TTS technologies have also been discussed in terms of accessibility, in case of audiences lacking connections or literacy.

The second day of the general assembly has been dedicated to discussions around governance, sustainability, and management of community radio. The group has also been involved in evaluation sessions with exercises providing a reflective guide to see whether we are meeting our goals, and also how we might capture our goals.

The last session has been focused on the preparation for the mid-term review the consortium is going to face the next week in Brussels. Given the updates and results shared during the assembly in Brussels, we are quite confident Grassroots Radio will give a positive impression to out evaluators. We will keep you posted! Bye for now, and fingers crossed!

The Grassroot Radio project is piloting solutions for community information platforms and media pluralism, working to lower the barriers to start and sustain a community radio station, create regional and European-wide networks of stations that can pool community-level resources, co-innovate collaborative media services and increase the impact of those stations through a combination of existing digital and nondigital technologies. With partners in Ireland, Romania and Portugal (Madeira), we are experimenting new technologies based on a strong interaction between mobile telephony, traditional radio and Text to Speech (TTS) technologies, through the RootIo platform.

Welcome to Grassroots Radio, a European-funded project aiming at piloting solutions for participatory innovation in the…

Gepostet von Grassroots Radio am Donnerstag, 13. September 2018

After the first year of the project, we are currently broadcasting in Bere Islands (Ireland). In Madeira, the Grassroots Radio team has been doing a lot of activities in Curral das Freiras, a civil parish of about 2000 inhabitants in the centre of Madeira and location of one of our grassroots radio stations. The most important outcome so far, is the licensing process in Romania, that through our partners (Activewatch and Medialert), reached to obtain a community radio licence for the first time in the country. Two radio stations will be launched soon in the Danube delta, Radio Civic Vârvoru de Jos (Dolj) and Radio Civic Sfântu Gheorghe (Tulcea).

In this framework, we recently attended the high-level policy workshop The road ahead for digital social innovation: How can the EU support tech as a force for empowerment and social impact?, which took place in Brussels on April 26, 2019. The workshop was organized by the global innovation foundation Nesta, as part of the digital social innovation (DSI4EU) project. The workshop explored how the European institutions can support Digital Social Innovation (DSI) and create a future where technology empowers citizens to tackle our biggest social and environmental challenges.

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