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.

SMART (Specific Methodologies And Resources for Radio Trainers) is addressed to radio trainers in community media and offers selected and valid training exercises and methods even to specific target groups to create radio trainings. It was about producing a training tool that would prevail over time, and no disappear at the end of the project. SMART on-line tool brings together the training experience of community radios but also adapted activities to be used with people with learning difficulties, vision impaired, and migrant women.

 From 17 to 18 October 2019 the team around the SMART Erasmus+ project held a coordination meeting in Aarau, Switzerland with participants from Hungary, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Ireland. The main goal was to plan the next steps for a pilot training in March 2020 and assess the results from the developed training and gain important feedback on the next steps of the development of the training modules.

The project is coordinated by Radio Corax (Halle/GER) and partners with NEAR FM (Dublin/IRE)Antxeta Irratia (Basque/FRA)Radioschool klipp+klang (Zürich/CH)COMMIT (Vienna/AUT)CMFE (Brussels/BEL) and AMARC Europe (Brussels/BEL).

On 7 and 8 October 2019 AMARC Europe hosted the last meeting of the Ethical Media for Active Citizenship (EMAC) project in its office in Brussels. The project will conclude on 31 October 2019, and currently partners are uploading the activities and the rest of the materials on the online training tool. All documents and resources will be available in German and Spanish, as well as English.

The project aims to develop a training course delivering media literacy tools while providing citizens and media activists with valuable competences to face very topical challenges presented to both, media producers and audiences (fake news/alternative facts, infomercials vs. information, freedom of speech and hate speech, diversity and pluralism in media, production values and content placement) and you can find more about it by visiting the website, and you can view some of the project outputs by visiting the Terminology and GuidelinesActivities and Categories pages.

The project is coordinated by NEAR FM (Ireland) and the partnership includes Radio Corax (Halle, Germany), Radio Wüste Welle (Tübingen, Germany)Commit (Austria)EMARTV (Andalucia, Spain) and AMARC Europe (Brussels, Belgium).

This project was funded by the Erasmus + programme through Léargas, the Irish National Agency.

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!