“Radio itself is a public space” Back

“Radio itself is a public space”

In an interview Culture of Solidarity grantee Common Waves explain why radio is a public space, and why we all need to find ways of turning public areas to common spaces again.

Who are you?
Common Waves is a collective of non-commercial stations and independent radio makers from Europe and beyond. Our collective has been founded as part of Tbilisi Architecture Biennial 2020 that was held under the theme “What do we have in common”. Against the backdrop of the professional discourse at the Biennial, we explored the different layers of common spaces from multiple perspectives. At the moment we are working on further projects, involving independent radio makers from different countries.

What made you think of the project?
In Tbilisi we are witnessing an urban and social transition that ignores the need for common spaces. While collectively organised spaces disappear, precarious living conditions are reinforced. This process marks a general trend towards individualistic and fragmented societies that equally concerns many countries. It’s time for European and global communities to address the challenges of this deeply globalised world together. Covid-19 has transformed public spaces into zones of danger and distance. We urgently need to find ways of turning public areas to common spaces again.

What will your project contribute to Europe, post-corona?
Experimental radio formats and cooperation between independent stations allow diverse forms of expression and can provide new tools of thinking access and audience. The structure of community radios allows to promote diverse and marginal perspectives. We strongly believe that non commercial radio can fill a gap between classical mass media and fragmented online communication.

Small, non-commercial stations are often denied access to the structures of official media. This is why an international network is extremely valuable for upcoming radio stations. It offers support in building up a broadcasting and research network for independent media. Also, it can provide help in dealing with precarious working conditions.

What are your plans for the near future?
Common Waves already is a pan European project and we’d like to build up on that. Our project has been held almost entirely in a digital space. We actually realised how important it is to also have local roots. This is the challenge of our upcoming projects: We would like to create strong local bounds while working internationally.

To finish, how does your project help to make Europe an open and shared public space for everyone?
Radio itself is a public space. The way how community radio works – inclusive, emancipatory and democratic – creates an open space for exchange. We have been lucky to work with several projects who really live these ideas instead of only reproducing the image of it. This needs an ongoing process of reflection and the continuous improvement of structures. Also, it’s always a negotiation between how much you’d like to curate a project or open it up to everyone.

Common Waves equally wants to support local stations and build up a network for exchange. The confrontation with the topic of common spaces has revealed how our struggles are sometimes very similar and in other cases quite contrary. In both cases the exchange can be really helpful.

Granted: 12422 euros