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!

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