How we got here:
- RX Radio officially began operations on November 1st 2016, under the wing of the RXWMCH Facility Board and supported by the Children’s Hospital Trust.
- RX Radio went on air for the first time on the 20th May 2017.
- During 2017 to 2018 RX Radio was supported by a highly skilled Advisory Committee. Their role was to guide RX Radio in how it operates and fulfils its mission.
- The station is now a registered Non-Profit Company (NPC) under the Companies and Intellectual Property and has started operating as such in 2019.
- Currently, RX Radio is being served by the new Board of Directors, established in November 2018 (joined by 5 members of the previous Advisory Committee). Their role is to provide governance for RX Radio, ensuring it continues to meet its aims and objectives, and they are supported by two advisors.
What we have done:
- 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.
- The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) halted the issuing of community radio licenses in 2015, so RX Radio has not yet able to broadcast over FM frequencies, but the station is currently in the process of lobbying relevant stakeholders to apply for a low power FM license.
- Radio continues to work to increase its reach through streaming online and through its social media presence. We are now exploring zero-rate access to data with service providers so that listeners would be able to access the internet for free when listening to RX Radio.
- RX Radio is actively pursuing content syndication with community, commercial and public broadcasters and we are in the process of developing a podcast platform for our listenership.
- RX Radio is partnering with the WC Provincial Department of Health to increase the reach of our broadcasts in other hospitals. In 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 for the future is to reach every hospital with a paediatric ward in South Africa.
- 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 in the world to involve child reporters broadcasting from within a hospital. So far 76 young reporters (ages 4 to 18) have participated in RX Radio training, 67% patients at Red Cross and 33% siblings or friends. In December 2018 RX Radio held its 7th Certificate event for young reporters doing basic radio training.
The children’s Basic Radio Training workshops are mainly facilitated over a period of five days and the objectives are as follows:
- developing trust amongst children, and between children and facilitators
- learning to work in a group
- developing listening skills
- developing confidence and assertiveness to speak in public
- developing the children’s skills in developing oral histories, and narratives
- exploring what are the most common problems/issues that affect them
- understanding the concept and meaning of rights
- creating awareness about children’s rights
- exploring which personal narratives children would like to tell
- preparing children for the media workshop process
- learning communication and interviewing skills
- learning listening skills, and the role of sound in producing radio
- learning technical radio production skills, including the use of recording equipment and the elements of producing radio programmes
- recording their personal radio narratives/radio diaries
Advanced radio training
- Ongoing advanced radio training is a fundamental pillar of the training programme at RX Radio and plays a developmental role in the lives of the child/young reporters.
- The RX Radio ongoing training serves as an opportunity for the reporters to further develop their skills relating to their participation with radio. The training consists of formal workshops (which occur during the school holidays and weekends) and in-house training to hone their technical and life skills (this occurs every time the reporters are at RX Radio and assists with generating material and production).
- Beyond their training relating to the mechanisms of radio, another aspect of the in-house ongoing training is for the reporters to become facilitators of the RX Radio basic training. This aids as a chance for them to pass on their skills and first-hand experiences of being RX Radio reporters. This is a principle that we encourage, to create an environment in which skills are passed on from our seasoned reporters to the newer ones. Not only in training, but in the studio as well.
- With this, we have managed to groom a group of well-rounded reporters that are aware and familiar with the mechanism of a radio station. This is also accompanied by a range of life skills – including working with different individuals and being better communicators – which the reporters can implement in their everyday lives.
- “RX Radio: An Exploratory Study” by The Institute for Child and Adolescent Health Research at Stellenbosch University
- “Participatory children’s radio in the context of a South African Hospital: Stakeholders perspectives” - Article submitted for publication to Child: Care, Health & Development Journal for publication by Dr Xanthe Hunt
- The last two years has been an amazing and exciting journey. Much has been achieved during this time through arduous work and commitment.
RX Radio is a world first
- According to independent research and three literature reviews, we are the first children’s hospital radio station in the world involving trained child/young reporters (patients, siblings and friends) broadcasting from within a hospital.
Young, diverse, committed and skill team
- We have a young, diverse, committed and qualified team. The team members work hard to make sure that everything is running as smooth as possible while also ensuring that the Young and Child Reporters’ voices are kept at the forefront. There is great team camaraderie, and everyone is focused on doing the very best for the station.
Quality and professionalism
- RX Radio has developed an organizational culture that holds high standards of professionalism and quality control. We do not cut corners or compromise on the quality of our organizational processes, participatory approaches and media productions.
Strong links and networks
- During the last two years, RX Radio has managed to develop strong links and networks with a variety of individuals, organizations and institutions from different fields such as media, health, development, advocacy, children’s rights, research, and business – to name a few that have proved to be invaluable in helping the team to successfully establish and implement our programme. Because of our performance and achievements, we are regarded as a unique, respected and credible organization.
We are changing lives and we can prove it
- As discussed above, research shows that the station is positively impacting in the lives of the hospital community, including child reporters and families, the hospitalized children, health professionals and the general hospital staff. RX Radio is committed to continue doing relevant research to measure impact, to continue commissioning studies to academics, and to continue with our internal audience research that informs our production team.
RX Radio developmental role
- We are building lifelong skills in the children/young reporters and supporting them in planning their career paths. We have developed an internship program targeting final year media and public relations students and an apprenticeship programme for our young reporters that are turning 18 years of age or that are not attending school for different personal reasons.
- We are also providing opportunities to the staff to develop their careers further by supporting studies and attendance to relevant workshops, conferences and events.
Children’s ownership and participation
- RX Radio strives to be a radio station led by the children themselves. Meaningful participation and decision making are key pillars of our programme. The RX Radio staff plays a supporting and training role behind the scenes, and continues to help develop the capacity and skills of the children to enable them to make informed decisions about the radio station, the content that they develop, and their personal lives. Examples of this are the children participating in the development of the newly adopted RX Radio Code of Conduct, their involvement in producing their own shows and features, and the inclusion of three Young Reporters as Directors on our new NPC Board.
Proven child-centred training methodologies
- Training is fundamental to the success of our project. There is an amazing amount of training, support and supervision that happens behind the scenes for children to become RX Radio reporters. The methodology that we use was developed over the last 15 years, was tested in a variety of different settings, and has been implemented in South Africa and Namibia.
The methodology used is broadly based on the following:
- A participatory child-centred approach is used as the vehicle through which the needs of the ‘whole child’ are addressed. Children are active participants in the learning process.
- The projects combine child-centred learning and participatory media techniques in its approach to advancing children’s rights.
- The children decide on the issues that they want to address.
- Training programs are planned and developed based on children’s developmental needs and interests. The workshops are based on free play in a stimulating and safe environment. The concept of the ‘whole child’ approach ensures that children develop physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually and cognitively during exposure to and involvement in the workshops. The programmes are intended to consider all of a child’s interests and needs during this learning-enriched process.
The power and magic of the mic
- By this, we mean the transformation that we often observe when the kids have access to a microphone to interview and talk with adults. Having the mic helps the children to level the “power dynamics” that we often see in the communications and interactions between adults and children. Usually, adults use a top-down approach when communicating with children and this influences the opportunity that a child has of “speaking back” and “voicing”. Often adults do not listen or take seriously what children say. The radio serves as an enabling platform for children to voice their own issues and holding the mic gives them the power to engage with adults, asking questions and sharing their opinions.
Bringing together the hospital community
- RX Radio is helping to develop a positive environment in the hospital community by providing the opportunity and the platform for child patients, families and health professionals to engage in an ongoing intergenerational dialogue. Children are being listened to and taken seriously.
Improve health care delivery
- Children’s voices are helping to influence the way that health professionals communicate with children. Within the hospital environment, adults are starting to question the common assumptions that are made about how child patients feel, what they know and understand, what they need and what they want. As a result of listening to children’s and families’ voices on the radio or podcasts, health professionals are reviewing and changing policies and protocols. A good example is the Procedural Pain Podcast produced by RX Radio, in which children and parents speak about their perceptions of procedural pain and their advice to health professionals on how to minimize it. This podcast has helped to shape the new protocol used by health professionals.
- For the children involved in the radio, due and proper informed consent processes apply as a crucial prerequisite for the children’s participation in the station. RX Radio ensures that all caregivers are well informed of the radio’s objectives and activities through meetings and workshops so that they can participate and ask questions to enable informed decisions in considering the participation of each child in the programme. In addition to consulting with the caregivers, children also need to participate in workshops that explain the process and outcomes of the project in terms that enable and enhance their own understanding so that they can also decide whether they want to participate without coercion. Formal consent forms are signed by caregivers and children.
RX Radio policies
- During these two years, RX Radio has developed, in a participatory manner, the following policies: Staff policies, Editorial Guidelines, Inform Consent processes and forms, and a Code of Conduct for all RX Radio members.
- RX Radio has managed to attract frequent media coverage by local and national print and electronic media during the last two years. Please refer to our media coverage Appendix B.
- Sustainability of RX Radio beyond the first two-year period is a key priority for the station and it is approached in a holistic way, taking into account the following three main areas: social sustainability, institutional sustainability and financial sustainability. All three areas are interlinked, but social and institutional sustainability form the foundation for financial sustainability.
- Social sustainability refers mainly to children’s participation in the running of the station together with a sense of ownership and belonging that children can express.
- Institutional sustainability is about the way the station is run (governance, policies, partnerships and training) and the support and buy-in from the hospital community and the Provincial Department of Health.
- Financial sustainability refers to the financial resources needed to keep the station running.
- We believe that in this first two years we have been successful in achieving, to a great extent, social and institutional sustainability. We have also been successful in partially raising funds for the next three years from the Children’s Hospital Trust and DGMT. We have developed a fundraising strategy and we are targeting corporates as well as organizing community fundraisers and approaching other foundations such as ELMA to raise funds to make up the shortfall for our 2019 to 2021.
Guiding values and principles
The following guiding values and principles frame the establishment and implementation of RX Radio:
- To uphold and promote children’s rights to expression, participation and involvement in decision-making as a central element of RX Radio.
- To promote the concept of the whole child by enabling the child to develop emotionally, physically, spiritually, intellectually, creatively and socially.
- To provide realistic challenges for each child, and in so doing, encouraging critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
- To promote learning through first-hand experience. Children interact with each other and the facilitators to find out things for themselves. Training is facilitated through the medium of play, artwork, games, free- and guided-experiences and activities.
- To use an anti-bias approach so that each child is affirmed in her or his own culture, religion, language and socio-economic background.
- To go through a thorough process of informed consent with the children and their parents/caregivers participating in the activities of the radio station.
- To gain the buy-in and ongoing support of parents/caregivers of the children participating in the radio as well as the broader hospital community
- To succeed, the programme requires a shift in paradigm at philosophical, conceptual, strategic and functional levels, and which results in the development of a supportive environment that protects and enhances the rights of children participating, supported by the concept of the whole child and a child-centred approach.