Grass­roots Radio pre­sent­ed at the ECREA Radio Research Con­fer­ence, the Euro­pean com­mu­ni­ty of radio schol­ars

Last week, Grass­roots Radio was pre­sent­ed at the 6th Con­fer­ence of the Radio Research Sec­tion of the Euro­pean Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Research and Edu­ca­tion Asso­ci­a­tion (ECREA). Rober­to Cib­in, on behalf of var­i­ous researchers involved in the project, pre­sent­ed a paper titled “Fos­ter­ing Com­mu­ni­ty Radio: the Grass­roots Radio project”. The Con­fer­ence gath­ered about 150 peo­ple between schol­ars and prac­ti­tion­ers, com­ing from all the 5 con­ti­nents. That was the occa­sion to offer some pre­lim­i­nary reflec­tions on how our project is try­ing to sup­port the com­mu­ni­ties not only to cre­ate their radio sta­tions but also to co-design the tools that make these sta­tions pos­si­ble and close to their needs. The reac­tions have been very pos­i­tive, and a lot of new inputs and stim­u­lus have been col­lect­ed to help the devel­op­ment of our com­mu­ni­ty radio sta­tions.

The Con­fer­ence was held in Siena (Italy) from the 19th to the 21st of Sep­tem­ber with the title “Radio as a Social Media: com­mu­ni­ty, par­tic­i­pa­tion, pub­lic val­ues in the plat­form soci­ety”. The dis­cus­sions took place in 37 dif­fer­ent pan­els and 5 ple­nary ses­sions. Var­i­ous aspects of the radio uni­verse were on the agen­da, for instance: the his­to­ry, the future, the role of new dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies and social media, the evo­lu­tion of com­mu­ni­ty radio.


Here is the abstract of the paper pre­sent­ed:

Nowa­days media man­age­ment is increas­ing­ly a glob­al phe­nom­e­non, sub­ject to the dynam­ics of the plat­form soci­ety, plagued by a drop in inde­pen­dence, inclu­sive­ness and plu­ral­ism. An attempt to resist this trend can derive from the inclu­sion of local com­mu­ni­ties in the gov­er­nance of anal­o­gous broad­cast­ing, as wit­nessed by the expe­ri­ence of com­mu­ni­ty radio sta­tions. In addi­tion, the involve­ment of the com­mu­ni­ties also in the design of the tech­nolo­gies that allow them to access this media can fos­ter the radio to become more and more a social/​convivial tool. In this con­text, the Grass­roots Radio project stands as a par­tic­i­pa­to­ry design process aimed at the devel­op­ment and test­ing of an ICT tech­nol­o­gy for the cre­ation of a net­work of FM com­mu­ni­ty radio sta­tions with geo­graph­i­cal com­mu­ni­ties in Ire­land, Por­tu­gal and Roma­nia. A web plat­form allows the set­ting-up of FM radio sta­tions, avoid­ing the costs of a real stu­dio and expen­sive equip­ment: just a basic phone and a low-cost anten­na are nec­es­sary. We will describe how dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy can be used to sup­port the exis­tence of an inclu­sive and lit­er­a­cy-inde­pen­dent “old-school” social media. We will show that this can be pos­si­ble through the co-design of a plat­form aimed at fos­ter­ing coop­er­a­tivism, cit­i­zen engage­ment, com­mu­ni­ty delib­er­a­tion, media plu­ral­ism and the free flow of infor­ma­tion in local con­texts. We will high­light how the inter­sec­tion between new dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies and old ana­logue ones cre­ates fric­tions with­in the insti­tu­tion­al frame­works that reg­u­late these dynam­ics, which, in turn, influ­ence the def­i­n­i­tion of the com­mu­ni­ties and the design of the tech­nolo­gies them­selves.

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