Guidelines for Community Radio Trainers

Guidelines for community radio trainers to promote the participation of
special target groups in broadcasting

This handbook is guidelines for community radio trainers working with special target groups. It is
based on multi-professional cooperation between community radio Helsingin lähiradio and
Mieletöntä valoa “Epic light” -program.
Epic Light aims to strengthen the media skills and the voice of young adults that face challenges in
their lives due to disabilities, mental health problems, social exclusion, and/or unemployment.
The handbook is intended for use in workshops organized for the target group, which are led as a
joint tandem team by the community radio trainer and the target group trainer. The latter refers
to trainers and peer supporter persons working with the target group.
The handbook consists of six modules, whose content is arisen from the experiences and remarks
gained in the joint testing workshops of Lähiradio and Epic Light and as a response to a question
what the group’s central learning needs for radio work might be.
The interview plays a central role in community radio due to its importance in increasing
multivocality and pluralism. It turned out that the trainees are often quite skilled to do a radio interviews. The trainees know e.g., what are the wh-questions and the difference between open
and closed questions. But the radio itself as a medium, as a specific tool, was not always properly
understood or it was given less attention, which caused problems in making a radio program.
Indeed, in community radio, we often start the training almost directly by learning different types
of radio programs and how to do them, with the consequence that trainees don’t get so well familiar
with the basics of radio, with the radio alphabet. This handbook doesn’t try to give any precise
instructions for making a radio program, but it goes back to the roots and deals more with the tool
itself, with “radio language” and the ways of expression specific to radio.
The modules can be carried out as one workshop or one module at a time. The text sections of
the handbook is intended as an introduction to the topic, and it is recommended to approach
them in small groups, in pairs, or as a general discussion, so that they can be deepened and
concretized when needed with everybody’s joint input.
Doing exercises is pivotal to learning the radio alphabet, and it is wise to give it the most of the
workshop’s duration.
So, in the end, this will be a common learning process for the community radio trainer, the target

group trainer, and the trainees all together and also reflects in itself community radio’s non-
hierarchical and equal spirit. And first of all, the aim is to encourage everybody to learn to listen

again and to have fun with sound and sound pictures.
MODULE 1 Training in a tandem
MODULE 2 Introduction to community radio
MODULE 3 Characteristics of radio as a medium
MODULE 4 A radio interview is pre-planned and pre-practiced for the listener
MODULE 5 Building a radio package
MODULE 6 From sound pictures to sound narration
MODULE 1 Training in a tandem
The aim of tandem working is to lower the threshold for the target group’s participation in radio
training by increasing the community radio trainer’s knowledge of the target group and of its

needs. The interest of community radio is to involve as many different target groups as possible in
radio activities, to let people grab the microphone and speak out for themselves. This requires
adapting the training to meet the needs of different target groups. The task would be impossible
for a community radio trainer alone to complete.
It is recommended that the community radio trainer and target group trainer discuss the needs
and interests of the trainees in advance. However, it is good to prepare for the individual challenges of
the trainees to be such that a workshop activity must be adjusted “on the fly”.
Trainees coming especially from vulnerable groups, such as neuro-divergent people and mental
health rehabilitators, have different ways of interacting and learning. Getting to know the trainees
takes some time, and it’s good to familiarise yourself with it by working together. Working
together is an essential way to better understand cognitive challenges and find ways of
supporting and solutions.
The presence of target group trainers in radio training is also important because this creates a safe
learning environment for trainees and brings with it the ability to solve possible problem
situations. Also, never forget to give trainees space and the opportunity to make their own views
to be heard during the training or later when they have more courage to do so.
Trainees coming from vulnerable groups have often received unpleasant feedback at school or in
hobbies about their participation. That’s why the feedback and interaction should be empathetic
and positive for supporting the development of trainees’ positive activity and focus on successes.
MODULE 2 Introduction to community radio
Community radio is more than only a radio
Community radio is not very well known among the general public. When asked, it is usually
confused with social media.
It is important that the trainees get an understanding of community media as a third media sector
along with national public service media and private commercial media. The former is aimed at large
audiences and target groups, and the program contents and formats of the latter serve the needs of
advertisers, big is beautiful, and money talks.
Getting to know community radio also includes understanding community radio as part of the
international community radio movement. Around the world, community radio provides
representation to social groups that are under-served, marginalized, neglected, or misrepresented
by mainstream media
To understand what community radio really is about, the traditional image of the radio must be
turned upside down, bottom up. Community radio makes audiences radio producers.
However, community radio is more than only a means of communication. It works for the
development of its surrounding communities, shares peoples’ concerns, and always offers social
benefits. “Community radio is 90 percent about community and 10 percent about radio”, said the
pioneer of the community radio movement, 2014 deceased Zane Ibrahim from Bush Radio.
Studio practice
Getting to know community radio starts in the radio station’s studio, where every trainee can try
out the sound desk, the mixer.

The trainer shows websites of community radios all over the world. Trainees will be asked: which
country, who has taken a microphone?
General Discussion
How do you see media in your country- who speaks in media? Who are journalists? Who are
people being interviewed?
MODULE 3 Characteristics of radio as a medium
Each media has its own special means of expression. The aim is to get trainees to be familiar with
the radio language and to understand the dual nature of radio as a mass medium and as a means
of expression.
A large part of community radio’s radio programs are informative and transfer already existing
material, such as published music, but don’t bring anything new into that material, or radio
programs that could have been produced and brought to the public also by means other than by
Radio can also be used to create a new material by using special means of radio. These radiophonic
possibilities of radio are hardly utilized in community radios. Documentaries and radio plays are
seldom broadcasted, and they are not included in the basic community radio training.
However, sound expression and sound narration are good ways to convey such feelings and
thoughts that are difficult to express in other ways, and thus they may offer new opportunities for
self-expression to trainees with demanding life situations.
See with your ears – the radio makes pictures
Radio is a blind medium but one which stimulates the imagination so that as soon as a sound
comes out of a radio, you’ll try to see and build with the mind’s eye what you just have heard:
where are you, who is speaking, and what is happening? Radio gives free wings to your imagination; in
radio, you can even dance ballet or fly to the moon.
Compared to radio, the visual medium is limited by the screen that crops the finished frames for
listeners’ imagination.
You don’t always have to express yourself in words. By using sound and sound pictures you can
evoke such emotional states, memories, and associations in the listener’s mind that might make it
easier to understand the life and destinies of others and thus promote sympathy between people
and working together for social benefit.
Maybe you haven’t been to Ukraine, but surely you too have been worried and felt pain for your
loved ones. By awakening those already existing feelings and experiences in the listener’s mind
you can tell much more about the senselessness of the war than cold reporting of current affairs
program is able. But first, you have to learn to express yourself by radiophonic means.
Audio clips
Trainees listen to sound clips and tell what they see.
Trainees take a short sound walk in the neighborhood of the radio station with a reporter
recorder / mobile, and other trainees tell what they see based on the recordings.
Audio clips
Trainees build from audio clips a sound story of one person’s 40-second morning activities. Which
sound is missing?

Radio sounds real but it’s an unreal talk situation between a program maker and a
Radio talk sounds like spoken language. It’s near to normal two-sided, face-to-face, conversation.
Nevertheless, the radio is talking to a faceless listener, and as such an unreal speech situation. The
radio talker can’t know if the message is understood and make possible corrections because there
is no direct reaction or feedback from the listener, like: “I didn’t understand”, “This is interesting,
tell me more about this”, “That’s nonsense”… no applause, no laughing, no whistles.
If possible, at least during the training phase, it would be worthwhile for the program maker to
give the radio program to a friend or colleague for listening in advance, remembering that the
criticism should not be taken as a personal review, but it is solely related to the radio program.
Audio clips cut from the station’s radio programs
Trainees listen to audio clips and use cards (e.g., with emoji icons) to express their feedback to
what they have just heard.
Radio is a one-way medium for a listener
Radio programs come as a single thread to the listener, who, unlike when reading a newspaper or
a description of the content of a podcast, cannot return backward of the program to check
something unclear or forgotten.
Also, on the radio, there are no headlines like in written media, but the listener must decide what is
important in the program stream.
It is the task of the radio maker to lead the listener forward, to tell where we started and where
we are going, to repeat and repeat things one more time, so that the listener stays on the right
Instead of saying “What do you think about climate change”, say “What do you _(say the
interviewee’s full name) think about climate change, what should we do about it?”, even if you
have talked with her or him a few minutes ago.
This is not our normal way of speaking and may sometimes be an unnecessary effort in the
opinion of the program maker. However, this is not the case for the listener, who depends solely
on hearing and cannot precisely remember the radio program far back.
Audio clips cut from the station’s radio programs
Trainees are channel surfers and listen to audio clips randomly cut from radio programs and
recount their listening experiences: who is speaking, what is the radio program about, how did
program maker supported us to stay on the right track?
MODULE 4 A radio interview is pre-planned and pre-practiced for the
Even small is beautiful
In community radio, the interview is a very popular program format, either as an independent
radio program or as a part of another radio program. However, there are often stumbling blocks in
the initial stages of making a radio interview, most of which stem from the fact that for many
people mainstream radio has become a model image of radio broadcasting in general.

In contrast to the mainstream media, in community radio, program makers are encouraged to
bring people who rarely have their voices heard publicly on the airwaves, to let them tell their
opinions and express their feelings. Interviewees do not have to be kings or other very important
persons. Program makers are free to ask they’re critical questions without fear of advertisers leaving
or politicians getting angry. Topics of interest to very small target groups are not only allowed but
also desired in community radio.
The interviewer is a radio director
A well-done interview sounds like a spontaneous conversation, but it is the result of advance
planning, pre-practicing, and well-done work. Making a radio interview does not require special
talent in speaking skills. Everyone learns how to do a radio interview.
Like a film director, the interviewer is the director who selects and decides the topic and the
perspective. Very different radio interviews can be made on the same topic, each of which is a
work, the interviewer’s own personal creation.
The interviewer decides what material will be included in the final program and in what order the
different parts of the interview will be arranged. You can place the interviewee’s last sentence to
start the whole program, if it is, for example, apt for stopping us listeners and making our stay
listening to the radio. You are also free to cut the interview material as much as you like but
remember not to change the interviewee’s words and thoughts.
The interviewer is a radio director in three ways:

  1. by taking care that the interviewee feels safe and comfortable – show your interest!
  2. by taking care that the purpose and the content of the interview are clear – follow the “red
  3. by taking care of the invisible listener – ask questions on behalf of the listener!
    But first, decide whether you want to do an expert interview, an opinion interview, or a personal
    And remember source criticism. Don’t say “I read somewhere”, but openly state your source, the
    the listener wants to know it.
    The community radio trainer and the target group trainer demonstrate together how to plan and
    carry out an interview. This includes pre-interviews and different interviewing methods that are
    verbal, i.e., questioning technique, and non-verbal, i.e., gestures, facial expressions, and tone of
    voice. The final interview will be recorded and listened to.
    Trainees are free to make their comments and ask questions during and after the demonstration.
    If possible, some of the trainees play different roles, of an interviewer, an interviewee, or a
    listener, and can make their input to the demonstration with comments like e.g., “no, not like that
    because…”, “that will do, but…”, “yes, just like that”, etc.
    It is also important to ask trainees about their former experiences as an interviewer or as an
    The trainer shows the correct way of handling a microphone.
    Trainees interview each other on agreed topics and practice using the microphone. The practice
    interviews (maximum duration two minutes) will be recorded and listened together.

Accessibility for the neurodivergent community in radio
Written by Makte Muuri as feedback for a test workshop of the Nordplus project and as
instructions for community radio trainers.
Before the start of radio production
It is ensured that the place can be accessed by a person who moves with the help of an aid, the
toilet spaces are large enough to pass and other obstacles to movement have been removed or
can be circumvented. In addition, it must also be possible to move from the event to a quiet space
to rest. The information about the facility’s accessibility should be public. It’s a good idea to
visitors about it in advance.
Assignments can be sent to participants in advance. Some people find it difficult to participate
when they don’t know what to expect and what kind of participation is required. It is good to
warn about group work and its content at the beginning of the meeting at the latest. Participants
must be allowed to skip a part of the task. It is good to create an atmosphere where nothing is
In teaching, terms must be explained, even if they are “self-evident”. A good technique is to
pauses in your speech, giving the participants time to think and gather the courage to express
their confusion.
Neurodiversity and body language in an interview
For many neurodivergent people (e.g., autism, ADHD, Tourette’s syndrome, and learning
disorders), body language can be different from neurotypical people, i.e., those who are not
neurodivergent. For neurotypicals, eye contact, turning the body towards the other person and
precise control of the tone of voice is an important part of forming a good relationship, but for
For some neurodiverse people, these are often difficult and even pointless things.
Expressions and gestures are important, but for many neurodiverse people, facial control is
exhausting or even impossible. For an autistic person, turning their back to the interviewer can be
a polite gesture. It shows that they feel the interview is so important that they are ready to
continue talking even when the situation feels overwhelming. They try to make the space easier
to navigate and less irritating by avoiding eye contact or turning their back to the interviewee and
focusing on the content of the interview.
How would it be ensured that the interviewee does not interpret the normal body language of an
autistic interviewer as impolite?
To make eye contact is to be polite to many but disturbing to others. Here, you should pay
attention to the individual and try to detect their personal feelings about eye contact.
Word choices
The most important thing is to focus on everyone’s own strengths and give examples of what is
polite and expected in radio production. Word choices matter a lot here. If it is said that “eye
contact is polite”, it also implies that to look away is impolite.
Why not say something like this: “You should pay attention to eye contact. Others consider eye
contact a good feature in an interview, while others prefer to avoid eye contact in an interview”.
Instead of talking about “good non-verbal communication” we can say “examples of

good non-
verbal communication”.

One’s own strengths and weaknesses
What ways can be used to express interest in the subject and how to highlight the methods that
the person is capable of? If a person does not have similar body language to neurotypicals, one
can try to focus on the tone of voice. If it is difficult to look into the eyes, let’s focus on body
language, for example.
Let’s support everyone’s individual development.
With a larger training group, examples can be given. Everyone should be encouraged to think
about their own strengths and weaknesses. You can also practice identifying the needs of others.
How do you tell if the interviewee is interested in making eye contact or not? How do you know
what they respond well to? Do they think the tone of voice is important to pay attention to?
MODULE 5 Building a radio package
Basic elements of radio
The basic elements of a radio program are talk, ambient sounds, music, and also silence. Talk can
be the speech of a program maker, interview, or panel discussion of studio guests.
Ball head -cards of different program elements
Trainees listen to audio clips cut from the station’s radio programs and place the cards on the table in
a straight line according to listening of program elements.
Links glue the story together
A radio program is built from many different parts. Written links glue the different parts of a radio
program together.
A link has three functions for the listener: it must be interesting, act as a signpost, and be
The program maker is the listener’s travel guide introducing the different sections of a radio
the program, also letting channel surfers know what this is about, who is speaking, and what is going
to happen next, that is to stop and to inspire the listener to continue listening.
Writing for radio
Radio language is living spoken language. That’s why a script for a link must be spoken, not read
aloud if possible.
Write things clearly and in such an order that it is easy for the listener to understand. Think, what
does the joke sound like if you tell it in the wrong order?
Write short sentences and phrases. Say it simply. Less is more.
Audio clips cut from the station’s radio programs and links cut from the very same programs

Trainees listen to clips and links and try to find the ones that belong together
Trainees write and present their own links to be added to the parts of audio clips cut from radio
MODULE 6 From sound pictures to sound narration
The workshop concludes by dealing with radio’s sound narration and radio’s ability to express
emotions but also to affect them. The aim is to support trainees’ first steps toward a community
documentary program. In the beginning, this can be a little difficult area for trainees who are more
familiar with the sound stage of “one talking head in a soundproof studio”, which is
characteristic of commercial format radio. That’s why the approach here is more learning by
listening, i.e., exercise oriented.
Sounds can tell a story just like words. Often sounds can tell, even more, stories about things that
have been silenced or that are too painful to express or impossible to receive through words.
By using and combining realistic sounds you can bring into a radio program something that doesn’t
only repeat or stage what already has been said but that has its own special importance
alongside speech.
Audio clips
Trainees will be asked which audio clips they would use to express these things. How are
their sound levels, are they loud, quiet, etc?
Fear Anxiety Loneliness
Sadness Annoying Dispute
Joy Peaceful Time
Podcast Sarajevon sala-ampuja, Finnish version of Stephen Schwartz’s program Sniper
Introduction to the podcast
Sniper is a program of Stephen Schwartz, the Danish-American documentarist who passed away in

  1. In the program, the main characters are the musician who fled away from Sarajevo, snipers of
    Sarajevo and their victims.
    The sound world of Sniper has been characterized as a struggle of opposing forces, which are
    heard in the documentary as realistic sounds, and which say in their own way what the
    documentary maker wants to tell. These opposing forces include birdsong and gunshots, past and
    present, humanity and cruelty, tolerance and intolerance, and peace and war. (Hannu Kristo, Airi
    Trainees are divided into small groups, each of which is given their own sample of the podcast to
    Trainees will be asked: who is speaking, what is she or he saying, which realistic sounds do you
    find in the sample, which of them are opposed to each other?