How Podcasts and Radio Are Driving Youth Leadership in Africa

Podcasts and radio drive youth leadership In Africa, where non-profits like Children’s Radio Workshop empower young people to express themselves through audio.

Recently, I caught up with Lesedi Mogoatlhe, editor of the Radio Workshop Podcast, who told me how the organization uses podcasts to shape young African leaders. She also shared her thoughts about the organization’s impact in amplifying young Africans’ voices to promote change in their communities.

How Does the Children’s Radio Workshop Work?

According to Lesedi, the Children’s Radio Workshop is a bi-functional organization. It has both the podcast and radio aspects of it. One side functions as a podcasting company, helping individuals, organizations, and publishers to create and grow their podcasts through production, training, and collaboration. This is part of their initiative to increase the growth of top-notch podcasts in Africa. The organization also produces the Radio Workshop Podcast, which aims to serve up honest and accurate stories about Africa to its global listenership.

On the other hand, Radio Workshop uses radio formats to advance podcasting and audio storytelling. They travel across Africa to overlooked communities where they seek to train young people in radio content creation. This is an opportunity to create content based on their experiences in their communities and is produced in vernacular language. This way, it is accessed and understood by natives of that community. Radio Workshop works with local radio stations to facilitate the training and content creation, too. 

Stories of the African Youth

Young people can pitch their ideas to Children’s Radio Workshop, which lets the youth decide what stories they want to tell. This mainly revolves around their experiences of “being young in Africa”, with topics like youth unemployment, LGBTQ, climate change, resilience, and mental health being explored thoroughly.

On the mental well-being front, such content reflects how mental illnesses remain unaddressed yet rampant in Africa. This is because of the notion that mental illnesses do not exist in the continent. There is also a notion that mental illnesses like depression are not diseases.

Overall, the topics addressed by the Children’s Radio Workshop are based on the challenges that Africans face. This shows the foundation’s dedication to drive change in the continent through awareness. It also shows its passion for bringing comfort to listeners because they address personal and relatable issues.

Showcasing the Depth and Diversity of What It Means to Be African

 “There is no platform alive and consistent that showcases the diversity of Africa,” Lesedi says. This is why the Children’s Radio Workshop lets Africans tell their own stories. Africa has diverse cultures, people, and social issues. There are so many stories to tell. Thus, the foundation “stretches across borders to ensure that African stories are told by Africans.” she adds.

Children’s Radio Workshop builds communities of storytellers. They support journalists, podcasters, and African podcast initiatives like Africa Podfest to achieve successful storytelling. They also strive to collaborate on storytelling ventures in various African countries.

How the Radio Workshop Podcast Embeds Training and Mentoring into its Work

Children’s Radio Workshop also functions as a training body. Teaching and mentorship are core values of the foundation. Trainees also have an opportunity to work for the foundation and get paid for it. This helps them gain exposure and promote their work to a larger audience. Furthermore, it eases the level of unemployment. They also become a part of the wider community, and this fosters ongoing conversation in the industry.

Intimate and Layered Stories From Across Africa

‘I Will Not Grow Old Here’ is a production the organization is highly proud of, Lesedi notes. This three-part series highlighting the story of a 23 years old South African woman, Mary-Ann Nobele, takes listeners into her life in Alexandra. In the series, Mary spotlights SA’s 70% level of youth unemployment and its effects on young people. This is also why she has promised herself not to grow old in Alex. The podcast series was a 2023 finalist in the Podcast Academy’s Ambies Awards for Excellence in Audio and recently won the Best Podcast & Radio Award in the One World Media Awards 2023.

Audio is Driving Change in Africa

Children’s Radio Workshop’s use of the audio medium to empower African youths is highly relevant to African independent podcasters. It highlights the potential of podcasting to give a voice to underrepresented groups and share their experiences with a wider audience. By creating content about their communities, these young people bring attention to important issues and drive positive change. This should serve as an inspiration for podcasters and radio creatives everywhere. It should also be a reminder of the power of this medium to make a difference.

I believe more African media creators should venture into audio media if they want to drive change. Radio and podcasts have a broad reach and can easily be accessed by people in remote areas. This makes it an effective tool for spreading information and raising awareness about important issues. Additionally, the low production costs and ease of distribution make podcasting an accessible medium for independent creators.

Independent African podcasters have a fantastic opportunity to make a real impact in their communities. The good news is that many already are!

Originally posted on June 27, 2023 @ 3:24 am

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