The 2017 MeCCSA Conference in Leeds saw the appointment of a new Chair (Josephine Coleman, Birkbeck College) and Deputy Chair (Helen Gubbins, University of Sheffield), to the Radio Studies Network (RSN), and the establishment of a new steering group (). Jo and Helen have been working steadily with the steering group since to put a series of radio-focused events in place over the next 3 years.
Here is a brief summary of some of these upcoming events. In a few weeks’ time in June, the Communication and Research Centre at the University of Westminster will host a 3-day conference discussing the experiences of migrants and refugees from a cultural perspective, including opportunities and challenges, entitled “Rights and Might: Cultural Counter-Narratives of the Migrant and Refugee Experiences.” The Radio Studies Network is sponsoring a panel at this conference exploring the particular role of radio in these experiences. Dr. Emma Heywood (Coventry University) will speak on “The role of local radio in conflict-affected and occupied zones;” Dr. Caroline Mitchell (University of Sunderland) will present “‘Home on the radio?’: Transnational community radio as a tool for refugee expression and support;” Ajit Singh (Desi Radio) will speak on “Serving the Panjabi Community in Southall and beyond,” and, finally, Kathy O’Hare (University College Cork) will explain “How to set up a digital community-led radio station in an illegitimate refugee camp in Calais.” Jo Coleman will chair this discussion, about which are very excited.
Two further RSN-sponsored events will take place in November 2017 to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of BBC Local Radio. A De Montfort University symposium will mark 50 years of the first local radio station, BBC Radio Leicester, by looking at the current situation of local radio in the UK and its audiences, titled: “Reaching out: the past, present and future of BBC Local Radio Audiences.” The second symposium, at The University of Westminster, will focus more on the history of BBC Local Radio, the impact of legislation on local radio, and the contribution of BBC Local Radio to the media landscape over its 50 years.
To further facilitate dialogue amongst radio scholars and researchers, we are planning a Radio Studies reading group for the Autumn/Winter term 2017. In an effort to be as inclusive as possible, this reading group will be run over Skype. The readings for the group will be taken from leading international journals and we will publish the list in the Autumn for an October start-date. Participation will be open to all, not just members of MeCCSA or the RSN.
Aside from the above activity, we have recently launched a survey to help us identify and locate new potential members of the Radio Studies Network, and to find out what these new members would like out of the network. The survey is available online at: , and we hope MeCCSA members will share it freely amongst the MeCCSA and Radio Studies communities, social platforms and membership lists. The RSN Steering Group will discuss its outcomes (including possibly updating our mission statement) at our face-to-face meeting in late June, and use it to plan the way forward for the network over the next few years.
We have really enjoyed working on the above activities for 2017, and we look forward to engaging conversations there with as many of the wider MeCCSA membership as possible. For updates on further events we have planned for 2018 and 2019, including a Radio Studies Network conference, and to discuss the direction of our work in the near future, please follow us on Twitter @radiostudies and/or “like” our Facebook page MeCCSA Radio Studies Network. We also disseminate our updates through the channels of JISCmail (Radio Studies, MeCCSA, BBC History and others) but please don’t hesitate to contact either Jo (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Helen (email@example.com) directly with any queries. We would be delighted to hear from anyone interested in research and scholarship in the field of radio.