Community radio as community organizing: Building community through project-oriented co-curricular activist media pedagogy

Toft, A. & UWave Radio Student Leaders Carithers, A., Gillespie, D., Cho, S., Wollam, T., Moats, C., & Herzfeld, F.  “Community radio as community organizing: Building community through project-oriented co-curricular activist media pedagogy.” Presented at the Community Research and Action in the West (CRA-W) conference, Bothell, WA, October 16, 2015.


Community radio is an established organizational form that has served to diversify the media landscape through accessible production opportunities in a low-cost distribution medium. This presentation offers an overview of one group’s efforts to build a new student-driven campus/community radio station at the University of Washington Bothell. The station is currently a fully functioning internet radio station with an all volunteer student governance structure combined with curricular support and faculty advising. Working with a cohort of Seattle area applicants, UWave Radio has helped to facilitate as many as 15 new neighborhood FM radio stations.

We offer an analysis of the co-curricular pedagogical model that was developed in collaboration with faculty, staff and students over the last 3 years. The project has been used as an ongoing learning laboratory for students from across the campus to engage in high-impact learning practices in an applied environment through a self-and peer-directed participatory organizational model.

Four key themes are explored, drawing on UWave Radio as our case:

  •      Responding to the challenges of maintaining a participatory governance model in a transient student population
  •      Negotiating academic advising labor and the dynamics of co-curricular institutional guidance and support
  •      The benefits of community networking and the regional cohort model for hyper-local media projects
  •      Facing institutional counter-interests and the roadblock of professionalism in an increasingly neoliberal state university


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