The Performance of Youth Voice on the Airwaves

Catherine Wilkinson

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    This paper uses the case study of a youth-led community radio station, KCC Live, to argue that community radio is not a cure-all solution for disenfranchised and silenced young people. Drawing on 18 months of participant observation at KCC Live and data from in-depth interviews with volunteers, I argue that, owing to institutional constraints by station management; college management; and the regulatory body Ofcom, young people consider the airwaves to be a supervised, as opposed to emancipatory, arena. However, in attempting to combat the restricting nature of the airwaves, young people find new, performative ways to communicate. This paper provides empirical evidence which goes beyond previous simplistic conceptualisations of voice in youth media production and argues that romanticised notions of youth voice preclude performance and creativity. This paper offers an important contribution to children’s geographies in finding that pretend play, characterised by performance, can be considered a ‘life-span activity’.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalChildren's Geographies
    Early online date10 Jul 2018
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Jul 2018


    • Community radio
    • Performance
    • Qualitative research
    • Young people
    • Youth voice


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