Older Voices: Supporting Community Radio Production In Later Life Using Digital Technologies
How can older adults make meaningful use of digital technologies and community media? We are in an ongoing collaboration the Elders Council of Newcastle and their Older Voices project, a community radio show produced by and for older adults in the North East of England and support their civic participation interests using digital technologies.
Up to date, much research has been done on how young people make use of community media for their civic participation purposes, however this project looks at how older adults, who face heightened risks of social exclusion, have their voices heard in their community supported by digital technologies.
The Older Voices radio team faced different challenges: audience engagement, content persistence and process sustainability, which were identified together as part of a co-creation process. To address these challenges, we supported the group’s audience engagement by using Facebook Live, adding a phone-in option to the Older Voices show and developing a non-intrusive and tailored digital production tool to edit and upload broadcasts, the “Radio Grabber”.
Having used the Radio Grabber for nearly a year now, the community group values the use of the digital technology as a means to support their audience engagement and facilitate the archiving of their material.
The main challenges the radio team faced were:
- Audience engagement and wider outreach – the radio group didn’t have clear insight on who listens to their show, thus can’t provide content of interest to their listenership
- Content persistence – the persistence of content after the initial broadcast, rather than having live content as the only accessible option
Live show engagement
To support the group with the audience monitoring and to increase listener engagement with the Older Voices show, we created a Facebook Live, which contains the option for live chat and a phone-in option. The interactions on the Facebook Live created a point of audience engagement and gave some indication about their listenership.
The “Radio Grabber”, as named by the Older Voices team, is a digital tool which supports the group in editing and uploading of their content, thus creating and archive of the Older Voices content on YouTube. This achieves two aims:
- Allow audience engagement to be tracked (such as clicks on particular topics)
- Ensure that the content can be re-listened to and accessed by a wider audience
Using the software, the Older Voices team upload their running order and recorded radio show to the Radio Grabber. In the audio editor, each section is tagged reflecting the topic of the running schedule, thus making it easier to find certain segments. The edited segments are then uploaded to the Elders Council’s YouTube to be listened to.
The Radio Grabber was designed to be non-intrusive, yet build on existing production structures. The team integrated the tool into their existing workflow, thus making it a regular production task and sustainable in the future.
FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR SUPPORTING OLDER ADULTS IN CIVIC PARTICIPATION USING DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES
Adding non-intrusive technologies that can be integrated with existing workflows or re-designing ongoing working structures can engage older adults directly and strengthen their autonomy in the deployment process.
It is important to challenge existing stereotypes that view older adults as unable to use digital technologies. The use of the Radio Grabber showed that older adults can engage with and enjoy using digital technologies that are of meaningful use for them.
The deployment of digital technologies in the context of a community radio show produced by older adults was perceived as valuable, useful for current and future collective aims of audience engagement and resulted in an effective archiving of the content.
Does the use of personas within design processes prevent meaningful participation?
JigsAudio is an open-source device that engages people in placeshaping and urban change by drawing and talking.
How can media capture enhance the lives of both people living with dementia and their families?