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Reinventing Community Radio in the Smartphone Era

Radio and smartphones are elements of two different eras that for younger generations seem to be separated by light years. But once upon a September those two different worlds met in one place and time as a working topic of youth exchange “Re-inventing Community Radio in the Smartphone Era”.

The project took place in Skopje, Macedonia from 25.09. to 1.10.2023 and gathered young people with their team leaders from Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, and Macedonia. The days were filled with practical workshops and study visits, and our key points of all the brainstorming, discussions and other activities were focused on youth participation, active citizenship, outreach work, community radio and smartphone photography and videography.

First two days participants were working in two groups. While the first group was having workshops on active citizenship, the second was working with smartphones. Put it all together, both groups were learning how to develop digital skills and influence social developments. Within just two days, through various interactive activities, including energizers and team building activities, participants got to know each other more and we truly can say that they were on the same wavelength. And it’s just perfect since the topic of the project is community radio!

Moving on to what excites the youth – we left our working space to visit local radio stations and to see how it works in practice. We were guests at Urban FM, then at Pece Mladenovski from the music group Superhiks with his podcast “Verbalium” and finally at popular among youth café bar Brutalisk, where we talked about the current moment of radio programs.

Visiting radio stations was just the first part of our “work in field” – we also visited local organizations. Our first stop was at the Center for Youth Activism Krik, where participants could see from first-hand how it is to work with people with physical and mental disabilities. On the way back we welcomed the project group in the office of Volunteers Centre Skopje so they can see where our energy comes from. At last, we took a walk to City Park where Go Green organized a workshop focused on smartphone photography and biodiversity. Since we visited organizations focused on youth work and active youth participation, our quote of the day might be: “We will only change society if each of us makes a contribution”.

Completing this short but intense experience for our young enthusiasts, as a “thank you” for hard work and engagement, we showed them the beauty of Macedonia in the nearby canyon “Matka”.

The project unified youth from different countries where they encounter similar and different issues every day. They exchanged their experiences and inspired one another. They learned that there is more to Belgium than waffles and fries, that in Denmark the weather is not the only issue, or what Croatia and Macedonia have and do not have compared to other countries. Besides the interactive program, youth learned from this intercultural exchange simply being together and having discussions on how’s out there in their countries, what they appreciate and what they would change. The moment of enlightenment comes sooner or later, when we have young minds and hearts willing to be part of the change. That’s why we believe that this project empowered individuals and encouraged them to more active participation in things that matter to them.

VCS was the host and facilitator of the youth exchange within the project “Re-inventing Community Radio in the Smartphone Era”, and our partners were Carpe Diem from Croatia, Aarhus Global Media from Denmark, OKC Abrasevic from BiH and Stamp Media from Belgium, which is also an applicant of the project.

Ewelina Chańska

Pictures: Ismail Eren Demirtekin