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CRF Grooms Child Broadcasters

Provides radio broadcast training in effort to facilitate communication among youth

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — The Children’s Radio Foundation was established to facilitate the use of media platforms for youngsters to express and share their opinions. This was the result after The Child Gauge Institute at the University of Cape Town surveyed all media in 2010 and found that children and youth had a voice in just 2 percent of all the existing media.

Youth Reporters from Cosat high school in Khayelitsha broadcast from their radio booth.
Credit: Lufefe Figlan

Beatrice Phiri interviews charcoal sellers in Zambia.
Credit: Sydelle Willow Smith

“CRF is determined to provide ways through which youth can formulate their opinions, concerns, share their experiences and advocate for their rights,” said Jacqueline van Meyggarden, CRF Communications Officer. “Surely, how can we not hear from our fastest growing demographic on the continent and in our country?”

It is the long-term dream of CRF to have its own youth-led pan-African radio station one day. For now it focuses on helping to increase youth skills and confidence by investing in and making use of existing community radio studios, such as Johannesburg-based Alex FM, Mams FM in Pretoria, Radio Atlantis and Bush Radio in Cape Town and Breeze FM in Zambia.

“Driven by passion for young people, Elizabeth Gordon Sachs from New York was inspired to come to Cape Town where she knew of some media practitioners who advised and helped her to set up and register the foundation. It was mainly established on the realization that radio is a powerful tool and amplifier and that peer-to-peer conversations are much more impactful for young people,” said van Meyggarden.

Driven by its motto “Amplifying Youth Voices Across Africa,” CRF is active in six African countries in addition to South Africa. These include Zambia, Tanzania, Senegal, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Ivory Coast; with programs reaching 7 million listeners. The organization says that it has trained some 1,700 young reporters thus far.

Kuhle Speelman at a popup radio booth at Cosat high School in Khayelitsha.
Credit: Sydelle Willow Smith

CRF works with facilitators (or mentors) at community radio stations to select youths between the ages of 12 and 18 from local schools, based on their interest in social issues, in addition to their desire to be on the air. Fifteen youths are chosen at a time to participate in a three-day training, which covers the research, production and presentation of a radio show and focuses on issues facing their peers within their community and country. Some of the youth have proceeded to study journalism and media at local universities while others have began working directly at stations.

“Young reporters gather content through interviews, voxpops, commentaries and discussions. They then play collected soundbites in between studio conversations between presenters, live interviews, phone calls SMS and social media comments,” explained van Meyggarden. “The child broadcasters rotate roles among themselves weekly so that everyone gets to research, produce, present and do on-site field reporting as well as technical duties.”

To increase interaction and boost publicity all discussed topics are posted on social media platforms.

John Masuku reports on the industry for Radio World from Harare, Zimbabwe.