The following is a reflection on two recent research projects, namely the Hinckley Community Media project and the Leicester Contested Spaces project. The Hinckley research yielded three community media organisations, Fosse107 Radio, Castle Mead Hospital Radio and the Hinckley Times newspaper.
The research didn’t present any particular challenges and two radio stations were quickly found. The most interesting aspects of the research was the exploration of the history of both radio stations, Fosse107 and Castle Mead Radio. Both stations are intimately linked with each other. The story of Fosse 107, also known as Fosseway Radio, goes back to 1981 when four local lads used an attic space to record programmes for friends and family. Castle Mead Radio was established in 1990. It was instrumental in helping Fosse Radio in 1996 by renting out its studio facilities. Paul Gardner, one of the founding members of the station, describes its history in an article in the Hinckley Times of 2015 entitled ’15 years of the UK’s smallest station’.
I was actually surprised to hear about a hospital radio station, what to speak of being the smallest radio station in Britain. I never heard of such a thing as a hospital radio. Why doesn’t every hospital have their own radio station for their staff, patients and visitors and perhaps people in the local catchment area too. From my own experience in a hospital it is very frustrating to always have the TV on. A hospital radio station could be listened to even with headphones or whilst laying down in bed. Moreover, such a station generally broadcasts plenty of music and could, if well run, provide listeners with hospital specific news.
I went about the Hinckley research by trying to find out if Wikipedia had an entry on Hinckley and found that Hinckley had indeed its own page on Wikipedia with Radio Fosse 107 and Castle Mead Radio listed. However, the Hinckley Times had no entry, which surprised me because it is the only local newspaper for Hinckley, Nuneaton and surrounding borrows. I also discovered that the Leicester Mercury newspaper had taken over the website of the Hinckley Times except its local news section. This might be a reason why the Hinckley Times is not listed on the Wikipedia entry.
Regarding Contested Spaces in Leicester, four spaces were researched, the Steven Lawrence Research Centre at De Montfort University, Jubilee Square, the Clock Tower and Leicester Cathedral. What surprised me was the existence of the Steven Lawrence Centre at De Montfort University. What surprised me even more, although being familiar with the Steven Lawrence story, was that since then 26 years had passed, however, it felt like it was just a few years ago. It was astounding to learn that so much research had been conducted in these past 26 years.
Jubilee Square is a special place in Leicester. The square borders on BBC Radio Leicester, which is one of the oldest local radio stations in Britain. I had the opportunity to march with the Fridays for Future climate protesters from Clock Tower to Jubilee Square during the world-wide strike for climate action on 20 September this year. It was inspiring to see so many young people from Generation Z being actively involved in climate action. This kind of engagement is almost completely absent amongst Millennials, who seem to be mostly conformist and who seem to be mainly occupied with getting a job.
This Generation Z seems to be different, at least when one looks at climate activists such as Greta Thunberg and the many others of her generation all over the world. They are engaged, have an opinion and have an open mind. Moreover, they are prepared to stand up for their convictions. It reminds me of my own generation, the baby-boomers, who were and still are protesters and activists from the early Hippie days, all the way to today. But after the baby-boomers came a big vacuum in regard to social and political engagement of the next generational torchbearers. I therefore feel great delight and hope when seeing the youth of Generation Z engaged in direct action and protests. The world certainly needs this more than anything else at this critical moment in history. They are the great hope of our time because consumerism is about to die, either forced or voluntarily.