Popular education tools: Factory vs. radio

Factory vs. Radio

Overview: This is a great exercise for illuminating the organizational elements of creating and sustaining community radio. This exercise serves two main functions. By comparing a radio project with a factory, it brings into question the issues of production, decision-making, and organization. (These questions are obvious when thinking about running a factory, but tend to be invisible when thinking about running a radio station.) and, 2) the differences between a for-profit business and a not-for-profit community radio. These are fundamental questions that are both practical and influenced by culture, ideology, values, and experiences.

Time: Approx. 35-45 minutes

Goal: To consider elements of organization within the radio project and explore fundamental differences in producing for profit vs. for the community.

Facilitator instructions:

Supplies: Large paper and markers

Optional: take a poll:  How many people have worked in radio before?  (raise hands.)  How many people have worked in a factory before? (raise hands.)

Break the room into two groups.  Once they are seated in their two groups, explain the following:
One group is a factory (Feel free to get creative here, tell a story.  Either choose what they produce, or use a relevant local example or leave it totally open.) One group is a budding new radio project in its beginning stages.

Give each group one large piece of paper and markers and let them know that they will be reporting back to the larger group. If possible, have them go into separate rooms or corners of the same room.  Allow each group 10-15 minutes to come up with all of the considerations that they need to make about running their factory or radio project. As they work, walk around the room and be available to answer questions if there is any confusion, or if groups are stumped.

Ask for 2 members of each group to report back to the larger group. During report-backs, ask questions to go a little deeper such as, “why do you need that?”  or “how did you come to that decision?” 

After both groups have reported back, tape their brainstorming notes next to each other and ask:" What is similar about each of these?"  Gather responses.  Dig deeper by asking people direct follow-up questions. If it doesn't come up, ask “what does the radio produce?” Gather responses.

Now ask, “What are some differences between the radio and the factory?” If it doesn't come up: “Who is the factory accountable to?”... “and the radio?”

Ask for comments/reflections/feelings.

To close, note that there are many considerations about running a radio, considerations beyond programming, such as how decisions will be made, how labor will be divided, etc... and that while considering these pieces is important, community radio is inherently different than a for profit business because it is a public good, and should be accountable to a whole community (not just share holders, or programmers, or board). Its ultimate goal is not to create profit but to create (use their examples...information? Consciousness? Community? Connection?)

See more popular education tools.