5 Tips for Engaging Young People at Your Station


Community broadcasting provides a space for young people to engage in their communities and talk about what is most important to them. By truly welcoming young people to your station, you can bring new passions and fresh perspectives, but many stations find this meaningful and ongoing engagement easier said than done.

Although young people are one of the most mobile and diverse sectors of our society, making it impossible to generalise about our opinions and lived experiences, there are a few common barriers that a majority of young people come up against. This fact sheet provides some easy tips for considering how accessible your station is to young volunteers and community members.

1. Talk the Talk

Young people in your community may not know that they are welcome at your station, so tell them! You can promote your organisation to and recruit young volunteers from schools, universities, council and community groups (e.g. Girl Guides), and really any other youth community. Collaboration is key to the success of community media, and that certainly applies to making an inclusive and creative space for young people to produce media at your station.

2. Open your doors

A good activity when considering any form of community engagement is to think about how volunteers become involved in your station and then consider what barriers exist for marginalised groups. Although many of our entrance processes (e.g. membership, induction and training) are essential for legal or insurance reasons, there are some things you can do to and break down barriers for and seize the enthusiasm of young people, such as:

  • Process paperwork quickly
  • Offer a shortened training course to get people on air quickly
  • Keep all necessary costs low for people under 26
  • Offer informal mentoring or training with other members of the station community
3. Give control

We all know the huge part that passion plays in creating great community radio; volunteers who love their work make better content and become deeply involved in their station. One of the key barriers that young people often face in community media is a reluctance from the station to give them control over their own volunteer work, and if a young volunteer doesn’t feel a sense of ownership, they may not stick around. Engage young people in idea generation for the station and their content, and then encourage them to make those ideas come to life. Your young volunteers will find new confidence in their abilities to voice opinions and get involved. 

4. Keep on recruiting

Young people are some of the most mobile members of our society. Fewer young people have mortgages or mouths to feed than their adult counterparts, so we are more open to moving towns to study, work or travel, and shaking up our interests and commitments on a regular basis. It follows that, as a sheer fact of working with young people, turnover is high. The best way to combat this is to recruit, recruit, recruit and don’t stop because you have a handful of young people in the organisation, they may leave soon enough.

One of the best methods of recruitment is word of mouth, so encouraging any young people in your organisation to invite their friends along for a shift here or there is a great way to increase youth representation.  

5. Remember, ‘if you can’t see it, you can’t be it’

Most importantly, strong and meaningful youth representation happens when young people can see their peers being a part of something big. If you encourage young people to join your board or committee, present in high profile timeslots or at outdoor broadcasts  and take responsibility for this volunteer work (see: number 3), you’ll increase the visibility of young people at your station and inspire even more to get involved.

This resource was written by Tess Lawley, General Manager of SYN Media in Melbourne. SYN broadcasts on 90.7FM as well as digital radio and offers young people aged 12-25 the skills and platforms to be creators, not just consumers, of media.