Who we are:
- RX Radio is a radio station run by and for children operating from the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.
- It is the first radio station in the world that trains child reporters to broadcast from within a hospital.
- In the last 2 years, RX Radio has trained 76 child / young reporters (ages 4 to 18), 67% are patients at Red Cross and 33% siblings or friends.
- A team of five staff, volunteers and former reporters (ages 18+) work behind the scenes to train, coordinate, and support the reporters – but the children are always behind the microphones and are active participants in the production; they design their own shows, choose the music, invite guests, write interview questions, and even plan fundraising events.
What we do:
- RX Radio broadcasts 24/7, LIVE and Pre-recorded programmes (including shows, music, podcasts, and radio diaries).
- The station transmits audio and images through the hospital’s internal television system to all wards and public spaces in the hospital.
- We also live-stream the same content on our website and app, and frequently update our social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).
- Magazine-format shows consist of music, interviews, stories, news, weather, and traffic updates. Children in the hospital can also participate in the shows through song requests, dedications, live games and prize giveaways by calling or interacting with our social media.
- To become an RX Radio reporter, children first complete basic training: a week of workshops about important life skills (e.g. listening, storytelling), radio reporting and production skills.
- At the end of the week, children produce a five-minute audio-visual “radio diary” where they tell a story of their choice, and many narrate their experience in the hospital. After basic training, they have the choice to become an official RX Radio reporter. They then can participate in on-going training: workshops led by staff and guest facilitators from a variety of fields.
Objectives - We strive to
- Improve children’s experiences of the hospital and of their illness;
- Increase adult understanding of children’s experiences of chronic illness/hospital;
- Inform improved health worker and hospital practice;
- Produce quality audio programmes by children and for children.
A brief history:
- RX Radio officially began operations on November 1st 2016, under the wing of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital Facility Board and supported by the Children’s Hospital Trust.
- The station is now a registered Non-Profit Company under the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission.
- The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has put a moratorium on the issuing of community radio licenses since 2015, so RX Radio has not yet been able to broadcast over FM frequencies, but the station will apply for the FM license once the moratorium is lifted and is now exploring zero rate access to data to listen to RX Radio via the internet with different service providers.
Measuring the impact:
- An exploratory qualitative study from Stellenbosch University provides support for the RX Radio model as a tool that positively contributes to patients’ lives.
- For child reporters, participation in the program builds self-esteem, confidence, communication and social skills, all of which transfer into other spheres (e.g. school performance & career training). Audience research has found that for child listeners, the program improves mood, provides entertainment, calms fears about illness and hospital, and introduces positive role models.
- Since engaging with RX Radio content, many health workers have reported increased awareness and understanding of children’s needs in the face of chronic illness. RX Radio is becoming a tool to improve intergenerational dialogue among patients, families, and health workers. During 2019, a Master’s student from the UCT Psychology department will be conducting research on the impact of RX Radio on children, parents, hospital community and listeners.
- RX Radio is partnering with the WC Provincial Department of Health to increase the reach of our broadcasts in other hospitals.
- This year (2019) we are starting a pilot program with Paarl Hospital. By 2021, we plan to reach another four hospitals with paediatric wards in the Western Cape. The vision is to reach every hospital with a paediatric ward in South Africa.