Training Case Study – Redbricks Radio

The idea of Redbricks Radio came from one resident, Adele, who had shared the idea of doing an Internet Radio based on the estate with her friends. There are many artists, musicians, campaigners and social activists who currently live, have lived on the Redbricks, or who
have an association with the estate. This extensive pool of people is an amazing resource of knowledge, stories and contacts. The idea was if there could be a radio station that captured even a part of that interchange and history, it would be a very interesting channel and grow into an amazing archive.

This idea grew wings during the first open Green Zone event held in Summer 2010, when residents were mapping the current green spaces and discussing their wishes for the future of the estate. The idea of Redbricks Radio was discussed and a few residents requested
that Green Zone organise some training on Internet Radio.

Initial Training

Members of the Internet Radio station Dissident Island were invited to come and lead the training. A series of three workshops were organised over a weekend. This group were chosen as they had an approach to recording radio that suited our budget and need for a
quick turnaround time. Rather than setting up a permanent studio with the associated costs of rent and a dedicated professional radio studio, they use low-cost and portable equipment.

They had assembled the equipment to record and distribute their shows for a cost of less than £500 and could set it up virtually anywhere.

Around 15 people took part in the Radio Training weekend. The training consisted of the following elements.

  • Seeing first hand a live Internet Radio transmission
  • Taking part in the show as a guest
  • Getting hands-on experience of setting up the studio equipment
  • Learning how to encode and transmit audio via Internet streaming and podcasting
  • Recording digital audio using microphones and recording devices
  • Transferring audio to a computer
  • Editing audio and adding music and effects to create a short radio report

“I got involved in Redbricks radio. I did a radio show a little while ago, which was loads of fun, and I’m going to be doing another one. I’m quite excited about that.”
Anthony, resident

Follow up Work

Following the training, we met as a group to work out different ways we could work together. A website was set up to host the radio reports created, and an email list so that members of the group could
organise the recording of shows. Some shows were relatively easy to record and there were quickly a number of radio reports and music shows online.

However, it soon became apparent that the group needed additional training to be able to produce regular material and to make local stories accessible and relevant. We arranged for follow-on training by local radio trainer Chris Burrows who had been doing similar work for
Salford City Radio, and People‟s Voice media. He worked with residents who wanted to highlight local issues to help them frame what they wanted to say. The show he recorded also featured some wider reports presented by volunteer journalists from a local project who
had been asked to contribute. These stories helped stimulate more debate from the residents present.
Finally, there was enough material online to organise a launch party for the project. One of the residents of the estate was a promoter of events at a local pub and he helped to promote the night with flyers and posters at the pub and on the estate. The plan was to record and transmit a radio show live from the pub and to use this event as a way of promoting and celebrating the project.

It was interesting to note that the Redbricks Radio idea and project appealed to a completely new set of residents that had not engaged with any of the other elements of the project. They were drawn to the musical element of the project, and the sense of free speech that is associated with the possibilities of independent broadcasting.

Having Fun with Redbricks Radio photo by Dr Dave

The night was a great success and hopefully marks
the beginning of a new community project with a wide appeal. Through our podcast, the radio content is now being syndicated to other wider
networks of Internet based radio including the websites communityreporter.co.uk and
catalystradio.org. We are working with these networks to create an Internet radio toolkit for communities that want to embrace this low-cost ways of working.