Children hit the airwaves at Radijojo | Globalization | DW | 12.09.2012
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Children hit the airwaves at Radijojo

Children's radio programs are usually presented by adults. But on Radijojo, some of the youngest presenters in the world broadcast in different languages for children their own age.

They may not be able to read or write yet, but they can certainly talk and that means they are ready to make radio broadcasts. It wasn't all that long ago that some of Radijojo's youngest hosts and reporters were wearing diapers.

Toddlers at Berlin's day Kleinr August care center confidently use computers, including communication programs like Skype. This is how they make their broadcasts. "Hi, I'm Alexej. We have something special for you today - something we've never had before. We're trying to link up two day care centers in two different countries," a little boy tells his listeners.

Using Skype, Alexej chats to children at the Sunshine care center some 1,600 kilometers (994 miles) from his home in Moscow. These children, who are worlds apart, would usually never meet. But Radijojo works to change that.

Giving children a voice

For the past ten years, Radijojo has broadcast programs for kids and youth, primarily targeting children between three and 13 years of age. Occasionally, high school students and college students also get involved for special projects. The program has a broad format, ranging from short jingles to a 60-minute show.

The children learn how to digitally edit audio, conduct interviews and to voice radio scripts. Even the youngest children are encouraged to develop their own ideas, says Radijojo prodcuer Wolfgang Fischer. "Our goal is for kids to develop the capacity for using their voice, and that they learn that every child is special," he said in an interview with DW.

Ehemalige Kinderarbeiter aus Nepal und Schüler aus Berlin-Pankow bei einem gemeinsamen Projekt zur Globalen Bildungskampagne, Berlin/Kathmandu Juni 2012 Copyright: Radijojo

Children in Nepal work with Radijojo to create educational radio programs

Radijojo started out in Berlin's Wedding district, a place often considered a tough neighborhood with a lot of poverty. When they first got started, there were already plenty of radio programs for children on the airwaves, but Radijojo founder Thomas Röhlinger wanted to do something different. He started an international radio program for children, focusing on environmental topics and broadcast the programs in different languages. Now, Radijojo works with children and youth in 100 different countries, to create reports on subjects including social justice, fair trade, climate change and AIDS.

Multilingual broadcasts

Radijojo's young participants are introduced to people in other countries and learn about different cultures. Fischer says the show's content is often translated. "We like working in the original language because kids can express themselves best that way and feel most comfortable speaking in their native language," he said. The shows are then dubbed and broadcast in German and English via 24-hour Internet streaming.

Radijojo-Reporterin Hannah interviewt Bundeskanzlerin Merkel, Berlin, Oktober 2011 Copyright: Radijojo

Radijojo broadcasts 24 hours a day, and in different languages around the world

The shows are also broadcast on several partner stations around the world, via the Pacifica Radio Network in the United States, the World Association of Community Radios and various community radio programs in Germany. It's unclear how many people listen to the program, Fischer explained. "What we know is that some shows have a range of 10 million users, but not all of them will be listening to the program at the same time."

Small but mighty

Ten million listeners seems like a lot. But in Germany, even among die-hard radio lovers, Radijojo isn't very well-known. The producers are certainly aware of this problem. "It's mostly people in development policy and educational areas who are familiar with us," Fischer says. However, this year, Radijojo was named an official project of the United Nations' Decade of Education for Sustainable Development for the second time.

Radijojo-Workshop 'Nous sommes le futur du Maroc', Marrakesch Juni 2012. Copyright: Radijojo

Radijojo is starting a new project in Morocco

Earlier this year, Radijojo started a new project in the Arabic-speaking region of North Africa. "With the wave of democratization rolling across the area and the demand we feel, we want to appeal to the young people there and establish a dialogue," Fischer said. The Radijojo team will this year travel to Morocco four times to get the project aimed at college students up and running. This time, they are working with youths in their early twenties, encouranging them to discuss issues of education.

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