Introduction – Researching Community Media Audiences (Thematic stream: „Researching Community Media Audiences“)
Abstract: ‚Developing Dialogues‘, the latest work by Australian scholars Susan Forde, Kerrie Foxwell and Michael Meadows (2009) is arguably the most extensive qualitative audience analysis done in the field of community media so far, showing the important cultural role played by the sector, especially for indigenous and ethnic communities. Moreover, extensive quantitative surveys done every two years (McNair Ingenuity, since 2004) do also confirm that 26% of Australians over the age of 15 listen to community radio every week (2010).
Taking inspiration from the work done in Australia, the session will aim to discuss the state of research on community media audiences in Europe, highlighting case studies of recent and ongoing qualitative and quantitative research done in the area at regional and national level. The sessions will aim also to draft the contours of a European agenda for further research and collaboration in this area, involving practitioners, policymakers and researchers active in this area, for a work to be continued also after the event.
Large scale qualitative and quantitative community media research: the Australian experience (Thematic stream: „Researching Community Media Audiences“)
Abstract: A chance meeting of federal government policy objectives backed by available research funds, community broadcasting sector needs and committed researchers resulted in the first national qualitative study of a community broadcasting audience in Australia between 2004-2006. As the researchers who undertook this bold initiative, we set out to develop a methodology in concert with the community broadcasting sector that not only delivered on the project objective…exploring why people listen to community radio or watch community TV…but also to create a template that might be applied and modified at the level of the local by often resource-starved community radio stations. A pilot study in the UK by Janey Gordon has already tested and modified the approach and it seems possible that other locations might also be able to adapt the method to suit local broadcasting needs. One key aim of this qualitative approach is to identify the important cultural role being played by community radio, in particular, and to convey this knowledge to policymakers in appropriate ways. On this panel, we will discuss the methodology and its potential for providing rich, textured audience data in a sustainable way without the need to resort to expensive audience research consultants
Prove It – a qualitative research pilot for the UK community radio sector
Background: The UK has over 200 licensed community radio stations, all of which aim to deliver social gain – which can include helping people into employment, improving the take up of public services, or simply boosting well-being. The ‘Prove It’ pilot project funded by the Ofcom Community Radio Fund will allow stations to tell the story of their achievements by collecting and presenting audience and impact data. This will both enable the stations to deliver ‘social gain’ more effectively and improve potential relationships with stakeholders – by providing data for grant-funders and service delivery clients to enhance grant applications and sales pitches.
The project: The project takes place over a year-long pilot phase to develop and refine a framework to be tested with a selection of North West-based community radio stations. This will lead to the production of a ‘Prove It’ Toolkit which will equip stations with the knowledge and resources to collect and analyse partner station’s data. The ‘Prove It’ project is collaboration between Radio Regen, ALL FM and consultant academics. It continues Radio Regen’s work to encourage sector sustainability, through the open access home of the Community Radio Toolkit website <http://www.communityradiotoolkit.net>.
The approach used to collect and analyse data will be based on a framework developed by Australia’s Griffith University. The team set out to understand the audiences and meaning that stations have for their communities in the Australian community media sector. The exact methods used to collect the data will be tailored to the UK sector, but will include audience focus groups, street questionnaires, and interviews with key community figures, staff and associated community organisations.
The presentation: The project is still being developed therefore the presentation at Civil Media 2011 will outline the progress so far but also posit the question: how can community radio stations make best use of qualitative audience research?