Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The End of a Term

The first term has come to an end and I’d like to reflect on the a few things that have come out of the research phase. When we embarked on this project I remember thinking about how abstract it all felt. With every week, Tom and I have planned each session, but because this is still new to us and the Upstart team, we have been feeling our way through some of the research phase. Standing at the end of the first phase we now have a good sense of what we need to accomplish in the second phase that will be about implementing the things we have found out in the first phase.

Tom and Xabiso in the studio looking at the levels while someone records their radio talk

Before I go into the decisions we’ve made for the second phase, I’d like to write a little about the changes that have taken place. I mentioned last time that two members Aviwe and Ncubeko were no longer able to attend the Friday sessions. They now have extra lessons at school and we felt that their education is really important. Shireen, Upstarts poject manager, decided that it would be best for Aviwe and Ncubeko to focus their studies and be relieved of the responsibility of working with Upstart Radio on top of their academic pressure. Tom and I agreed and two new members have since joined to take their place. The two new members are very keen and they joined us when we had our end of term editorial meeting. We brainstormed some ideas for the shows and they were full of ideas.

With two new members we will have monitor closely and be deliberate about forming a team bond. The last thing I would like to see is the new members feeling divided from the team that have to work with. For the next few sessions as we prepare for our first broadcast we will have to begin with some icebreakers that will help put everyone at ease and get to know each other. We may not have very much time but they all need to learn to get used to each other.

The heart of our participatory project with Upstart has from the start been about sustainability. Towards this effort, one of the team members will be selected as an anchor for the YUNG Amplified show. YUNG Amplified, RMR’s youth show that airs weekly on Saturday and Sunday for two hours is the show on which Upstart Radio will be broadcast. There are two possible formats we could use for the show. One would be a thirty minute magazine type show that will have various segments of features and discussions as well as jokes and shout-outs. This format is ideal for the fact that the Upstarter’s would have a specific show that they can say they put together. The other format would be to have the content that dispersed throughout the YUNG Amplified two hour show on Saturday. The features would be used as starting points for conversations in the show. The advantage with this is that the discussions that come after features will not be limited to the time that is stipulated in the running order. It would also allow the team to focus their energies on finding content and editing packages without the responsibility of then having to put a show together.  We will spend the first three weeks of the term deciding which format works the best.

To help with producing content, we have decided that we will use “stringers” as part of our extended team. Ten Upstart members will be identified and given an intensive crash course on how to use recorders and conduct interviews for radio. They will then be given recorders to use when they go out on Upstart excursions and events. One of our own members has been on an excursion to Addo Elephant Park and she enjoyed having her recorder with her and asking her peers about the excursion. There they will collect content for us that the Upstart radio team will then package. We are scheduling more editing lessons for our team so that they are able to perform the task of producing packages with the content they receive.

Our project is based on the notion of service learning which is on the same continuum as community service and volunteering (Furco, 1996). In service learning goal is for the person giving the service to benefit as much as the community benefit (Furco, 1996). There needs to be balance between the learning outcomes and the service being provided (Furco, 1996).

We have our plans for term two laid out. The challenge of getting Upstart Radio up and running really begins now.


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