For the last year, we have been working with young people from KCC LIVE, a youth-led community radio station in Knowsley, on a participatory geographies project, funded by the British Academy, to produce a radio documentary about the riots in Liverpool in 1981 and 2011. In October 2012, 10 young people aged from 16-22 were recruited to take part in the project, a year later, a core of 6 young people remained involved, seeing the project through to the end.
As a participatory project, our aim was for the young people to drive the project. To begin with, we used a variety of focus group and participatory techniques, such as mind mapping, and participatory diagramming (and lots of post-it-notes), to explore the volunteers’ opinions of previous documentaries, work out what this one should be like, who they would like to interview, and what questions they would like to ask people who were associated with the 1981 and 2011 riots in Liverpool. Using their experiences as presenters and producers at KCC Live these themes were shaped into ones suitable for a radio documentary. Themes developed during these discussions included race, racism, community identity, policing, poverty and deprivation, and, media representations of young people.
Beginning in early 2013, the volunteers began interviewing people associated with the riots, including members of Merseyside Police, BBC Radio Merseyside and residents of the Liverpool 8/Toxteth area of Liverpool. The young people from KCC Live were responsible for conducting the interviews. In total 5 interviews were conducted, collecting around 4 hours of audio material.
Over the summer of 2013 the volunteers then analysed these recordings, working together to map out the key points from each interview and to identify themes that were important to discuss within the documentary. They then edited the recordings and in doing so coded the clips according to content (training us in how to use the audio software at the same time). They then worked with a senior member of the radio station who has experience in producing documentaries to work out music for the production, to record their own reflections and discussion that would form part of the final documentary.
The final 30 minute documentary is available via the youtube link at the top of this page or by clicking here. It includes extracts from the interviews, music and discussion by the young people themselves reflecting on what the interviewees were saying and providing commentary on what they thought were the main issues in 1981 and 2011. The documentary was broadcast on KCC LIVE with an accompanying discussion by other volunteers at the station. This full, hour long show including the documentary and subsequent discussion can be listened to by clicking here.