In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Radio, Children, and Young People

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Textbooks
  • Journals
  • Empowerment and Voice
  • Belonging, Community, and Social Inclusion
  • Learning, Knowledge, and Skills
  • Online Radio
  • History
  • Handbooks and Resources for Making Radio

Childhood Studies Radio, Children, and Young People
Catherine Wilkinson
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 August 2018
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 August 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791231-0208


Children and young people are now living in an era where their daily routines are saturated with different media platforms, competing for their attention. Once such platform is radio. While other forms of media, such as social media and television, are associated with negative portrayals of young people in some early-21st-century popular and academic debate, radio has often been met with positive appraisals. For instance, radio has been heralded for its ability to empower young people and to position them within dominant societal discourses, from which they were previously excluded. Writings on radio are a multidisciplinary effort, drawing on fields such as communication and media studies, human geography, sociology, journalism, cultural studies, and musicology. There are many different “types” of radio stations on which scholarship exists, including but not limited to commercial, community, college, university, and net only. Most research into radio (particularly community radio) has used case studies from developing nations. Specific policy and political regulatory structures exist within different countries, and so research is not easily transferable. This article will introduce the reader to dominant themes and areas of interest from international and interdisciplinary scholarship regarding children and young people’s relationships with radio—both as listeners and as volunteers/staff—as explored in academic debate. This article begins by detailing texts that provide useful overviews of the topic of children, young people, and radio. It then lists and discusses useful textbooks and journals before moving on to discuss textbooks and journal articles thematically, beginning with empowerment and voice, then belonging, community, and social inclusion, and a final thematic section on learning, knowledge, and skills. Texts discussing online radio and the history of radio as it intersects with young people are also discussed. The article concludes by detailing useful resources for making radio, either by or for children and young people.

General Overviews

The topic of radio with children and young people has attracted interdisciplinary attention, but texts often focus on one specific aspect of radio in relation to children and young people (for instance, voice, production, audience, participation), and it is rare to find a complete overview on the topic. One useful overview on radio and young people is Bloustien and Peters 2011, an exploration of youth, music, and creative cultures, with a focus on radio in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Europe. McClung, et al. 2007 also provides a useful general discussion of the function that radio plays in the lives of today’s youth, with an emphasis on positive relationships between radio use and other media. There are some more-specific overviews, including a journal article, Wilkinson 2015, which collates case studies on community radio and situates these within the wider literature on youth media, the arts, and the creative industries. Each of these readings provides a sound starting point to gain contextual knowledge of children, young people, and radio, though predominantly focused on the teenage years.

  • Bloustien, Gerry, and Margaret Peters. Youth, Music and Creative Cultures: Playing for Life. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

    DOI: 10.1057/9780230342491

    A cross-cultural exploration into the everyday lives and music practices of young people from Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Europe from their own broad social, cultural, and ethnic perspectives.

  • McClung, Steven, Donnalyn Pompper, and William Kinnally. “The Functions of Radio for Teens: Where Radio Fits among Youth Media Choices.” Atlantic Journal of Communication 15.2 (2007): 103–119.

    DOI: 10.1080/15456870701215842

    An informative examination of the function that radio plays in the lives of young people in the United States. The study provides a modern benchmark for understanding the role of radio for teenagers.

  • Wilkinson, Catherine. “Young People, Community Radio and Urban Life.” Geography Compass 9.3 (2015): 127–139.

    DOI: 10.1111/gec3.12197

    A review of existing international case studies discussing community radio as a platform for youth voice, and as facilitating social inclusion for young people through youth media participation. These debates are situated within the wider literature of youth media, the arts, and creative industries.

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