“Children make up 25 to 30 percent of the world’s population,” said Thomas Rohlinger, founder and editor-in-chief of RadiJoJo, a nonprofit children’s radio station in Berlin, Germany. “Yet the number of stations actually delivering content for and by children is almost nonexistent.”
In an effort to address this imbalance, RadiJoJo has launched the World Children’s Radio Network. Located on the Web at www.world-childrens-radio.net, WCRN is based on a simple proposition: Children ages 3–18 create content that RadiJoJo packages and then sends out to community radio stations around the globe.
“All our content is free for non-profit community radios, schools and kids’ media centers worldwide,” said Rohlinger. “In the United States, we partner with the Pacifica Network and the Public Radio Exchange (PRX). We are a member of AMARC, the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters. All of those more than 2,000 stations can use our content.” Other partners include UNESCO and UNICEF, as well as the German NGO Inwent.
How WCR works
The content aired on the World Children’s Radio Network comes from a number of sources. In Germany proper, RadiJoJo sends its producers to local schools. While there, they lead the children through daylong or weeklong workshops, teaching them the basics of interviewing and content making. By the end of the sessions, the producers come back with audio that can be incorporated into a WCRN hour-long program.
Outside of Germany, RadiJoJo attracts content produced by children in various countries. More than 100 countries have been represented in WCRN programs and contributions.
“There are great small grassroots children’s radio groups and school radio groups scattered across the globe,” said Rohlinger, pointing to groups in Argentina, Canada, Kyrgysztan, Namibia, the United States and India. “We try to connect them and built a network that is bigger than the sum of its members.”
The content comes to RadiJoJo via the Internet, CD or tape. “If the children do not have the means to record something themselves, we can always contact them for a phone interview,” he said. The producers load the audio to the station’s servers, then mix-and-match various elements to create distinct 30- and 60-minute shows. These are then distributed by AMARC to member stations, typically via the Web.
What’s on the WCRN
The World Children’s Radio Network covers whatever kids want to produce, such as school and family life, sports, music, animals, jokes and stories. However, Thomas Rohlinger encourages his producers to get into meatier issues such as children’s rights and the environment; to get them thinking about these issues and bring them to the attention of WCRN’s listeners.
“All age groups of children from all world regions are invited to share and exchange on all issues they are interested in — or should be interested in,” said Rohlinger. “As you might surmise, those two are not always the same.”
RadiJoJo productions are guided by the principles of internationally recognized organizations such as UNESCO, he added.
“Content-wise, we are working both in Germany and worldwide in the context of UNESCO’s Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) approach. Education for sustainable development means teaching children, adolescents and adults sustainable thinking and action. It empowers them to make decisions for the future and assess the impact of their own actions on future generations.”
Although free speech is encouraged, there are rules governing program content on WCRN. Programs must abide by standards of respect for others and the U.N. Rights of the Child Convention; no glorification of violence or drugs; no political agitation; no prejudice towards people with a different skin color, religion or culture; and no discrimination or insults towards girls, small children or children with handicaps.
It is difficult to many how many listeners tune into WCRN each week.
“We know that we have about 5,000 listeners in Weimar, Germany, and up to 70,000 on a children’s radio station in Turkey,” said Rohlinger. “Right now, we know that 20 to 30 stations carry our broadcasts. But it is hard to keep track of it, because they get our content and can air it whenever they like.” WCRN’s content is also posted on online for on-demand streaming.
Interested community radios, schools and youth centers can contact Radijojo World Children’s Radio Network directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Donations are welcome, to guarantee our non-commercial independent work for and by kids,” says Rohlinger.