The Community Hub: Bournemouth University

University of Brighton Faculty of Arts Student magazine article.


Project Holders: Sue Wallace; Jo Tyler 
Institution: Bournemouth University - The Media School

1. About the project 

Could you briefly outline your project’s aims?

The main focus of The Community Hub project is collaboration between university graduates, students and community schemes, to develop graduates with impact on both society and HE. The intention is to make opportunities available for graduates from journalism and radio courses at Bournemouth's Media School to liaise with community radio stations to provide them with news and features content. The graduates will supervise production and delivery of this content by students on the university courses. This, then, would offer work experience to students, and management and entrepreneurial prospects to graduates. The ultimate aim is to design a sustainable foundation for a regional hub including other community radio stations in a relationship with the university. This might lead to a model that could be transposed to other regions. 

2. Project progress

What would you say has been the key success of the project?

A key success has been the development of community links through Age UK. 

The Community Hub was launched at the Age UK/Mature Broadcasters Association (MBA) funded event held at Bournemouth University on 18th July 2011. 'Sounds Good To Me' was the third workshop-led day in the UK to present the concept of the 50+ audience being able to engage in making radio programmes. Invitations were extended to interested parties from the region. In attendance were community radio station practitioners, Age UK members and related arts and culture groups from a wide Dorset area, a total of 82 community members took part. Students were also recruited to document the event in audio interviews and pictures. 

Feedback was very positive and indicated the need to assist this underserved audience in the region further. 

Have there been any unexpected benefits as the project progressed, could you give some details?

Currently there are four established radio groups who are working towards making audio programmmes for existing radio platforms but also developing their own. The momentum this project has picked up with the links to University expertise and The Community Hub research projects has been reflected in the 50+ community and influenced Age UK to consider additional speech output for their shop-led radio station to be launched in 2012. This potentially would mean an online audio resource of stories UK wide that could also be scheduled for home listening. 

Could you give details of any unexpected hurdles you encountered during the course of the project?

One unexpected hurdle is the fact that Age UK has suffered funding cuts. The need for the graduates to earn extra income has also put some restrictions on the management of the project. There has also been some difficulty with the focus of community radio stations on the provision of news programming, with its requirement for a regular, even daily, supply of material. 

The facilitation of these projects is sometimes time consuming as often the simple concept of radio broadcast and training in line with technology needs to be addressed appropriately before any research can begin. 

3. Impact on teaching and learning 

How do you believe the project has impacted on your teaching?

Engagement with the possibility of providing factual programming for community radio stations, has raised issues of peer assessment and mentoring, along with reflections on professional and amateur contributions to the news. All of this has had an impact on necessary considerations for teaching. 

How do you believe future students may benefit from the project outcomes?

We hope to develop some systematic basis for cooperation which will continue to have benefit for students in the future as well as more currently. 

What would you consider were the potential wider community benefits from your project?

It is hoped that the project will provide the wider community with access to contributing to radio programming in their area, and also more involvement with university students. 

A blog is in development to document the current research and outcomes as a legacy for the project but also as a teaching resource. This will be linked into other localised university initiatives such as the Streets of Bournemouth project. 

4. Collaborative aspects of the project

How have students responded to the project?

There has been an enthusiastic response from the graduates to learning about the projects accomplished on their separate degrees. The students will feed back as alumni into the existing related courses in journalism and radio across undergraduate and MA frameworks. 

Have other members of staff been asked, or offered, to cooperate as the project progressed?

There has been some involvement with staff overseeing undergraduate journalism provision. This has involved sharing suggestions for ways in which a bigger pool of students could contribute to community radio programming and how links with these radio stations might be fostered to make a contribution to coursework. 

How do you see other staff and students in the department potentially benefitting from the project outcomes?

If a model can be developed for cooperation between the community, radio stations, and the university, this will open up the possibility for other students in the department, currently outside the project, to contribute. This could also be distributed to other UK-led community media outlets based at Universities where this model of cooperative working may be appropriate. 

How do you envisage the wider subject community may potentially benefit from the project?

It is hoped that the wider subject community can benefit through access to broadcasting and training in production techniques. The Community Media Association (CMA) and Ofcom have cited interest in the resulting outcome and methodology of the Age UK projects.

Contact Information

Sue Wallace, Senior Lecturer in Audio

Jo Tyler, Lecturer in Radio Production


back to Art Design Media Learning and Teaching Projects 2011-12



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