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Children of the Revolution

Kids in Communication (or KICfm as its more commonly known) is a fantastic youth led radio project based in the West Midlands. It provides career opportunities, a voice for young people and a platform to empower those marginalised by society using radio broadcasting and digital media. However, the exemplary project is at risk of closure, due to forthcoming government cuts in the voluntary sector. This post looks at some of the successes of the project and what impact the closures what have.

Earshot Creative is the online blog site focusing on “the best of when marketing, social media, promotions and online collide within the radio industry”. It is written from my experience and passion for the industry – however, my excitement and continued interest with the radio broadcasting sector all stems from one Saturday afternoon in Early 2004 inside a church hall in Walsall, the Black Country.

Before that my experience of “radio” was waking up to Elliot Webb each morning or dancing in a park to a plethora of boybands and girlbands at a Party in the Park. However, after responding to an article in the Sutton Coldfield Obsever – I made my way across the Birmingham boundries into the Black Country town of Walsall to an ‘Open Session’ for a radio station for young people called Kic FM. Extremely nervous and not quite sure what to expect – I made my way up the stairs in the converted church next to the bus station and was given a reporter microphone to hold …. the rest is history!

Within a few weeks – I was learning how to broadcast a radio show, but more importantly – I was interacting with people from a wide variety of backgrounds and upbringings. Different programming groups integrated to form the backbone to a three week RSL broadcast – coming from a two studio converted broadcast trailer. Months later – I was training up other young people in putting together their shows, putting together educational feature packages, blagging prizes and much more!

One of my fondest memories is producing a 30 minute editorially driven BBC-esq radio programme focusing on the impact of Bollywood lifestyles within the UK. The programme featured interviews with the cast of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s short-lived Bombay Dreams musical as well as vox pop interviews with young people across the Midlands. The programme also secured a win at Kic’s very own award ceremony for Best Pre-Recorded Interview – a warm up to my Arqiva award wins in years to come?

Another fond memory was a series of chart shows presented with a good close friend – David Salt. We still keep in touch to date and bump into each other at the odd industry event too. Salty (as he’s commonly known) is currently a Producer at BRMB and is another example that shows the success of the KIC project for nurturing, developing and creating talents for the radio industry.

There’s plenty of other success stories of KIC alumni now working in radio across Global, UTV, Bauer and the Beeb! However, at large – the project is more than a school for “wannabe radio broadcasters”. Kic FM provides an opportunity for young people from the West Midlands to learn transferable skills – vital for the area, when the West Midlands has the highest unemployment than any other region in the UK. More importantly – it gives young people a chance to gain confidence, develop communication, empower communities and most of all ….  have a good time doing it too!

So what’s the issue then?

Kids in Communication has relied on annual funding from vinspied, however with current plans – this funding stream will be stopped from March 31st, as the government will cease to fund hundreds of voluntary projects across the UK.

Without wishing to get into government and politics; Terry Ryall ,the CEO of vinspired (the body which Kic is funded by) commented that there is no strategy in place to deal with youth funding in the future:

“Last week I met Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society. It is clear from that meeting, and other discussions with the Office for Civil Society, that they have not yet accepted the need for Government funding of youth volunteering infrastructure. In addition, the future of the match fund is undecided despite the success of this programme and the investment it has leveraged.”

The infamous KicFM studios trailer

With the government wanting to achieve it’s “Big Society” plan, where is wants to see “voluntary groups [to] provide personalised public services to some of the most disadvantaged people that state bodies typically fail to reach.” The team at KIC, and myself, feel this will be hard (if not impossible) to achieve with the reduction in vital project funding that is Government led. One could argue a backwards way of looking at things?

So why does KIC need support?

  • KIC was founded in 1996, to empower young people marginalised by society using digital media.
  • KIC has worked with thousands of young people from all types of social, racial and economic backgrounds.
  • KIC is run by volunteers, engaging them to make decisions that directly effect the content and practices of the station.
  • KIC has been centrally funded and surpassed all the targets of various organisations (Vinspired).
  • Young volunteers create relevant community content about various issues (bullying, gun crime and gang culture)
  • The KIC fm website disseminates information to thousands of young people

What would the impact of the closure mean?


  • Over 500 volunteering opportunities targeting unemployed, NEET, BME and youth offenders
  • Closure of state of the art facilities (£100,000 studios)
  • 5 staffing posts.
  • Valuable intellectual property.
  • Peer mentoring opportunities.
  • Over 30 Schools and Academies across the West Midlands work experience placements and volunteering opportunities.
  • Over 100 work experience placements including Future Jobs Fund.
  • Over 100 placements for unemployed.
  • Out of hours opportunities impacting on crime.
  • Closure of website (100,000 young people accessing information).
  • Placements for physically and mentally disabled.

Apart from the immediate impacts above – it has a more underlining interest to many alumni, current volunteers and future volunteers. On a personal level – the project provided me with years of nurturing passion with other like minded young people. It gave me a platform to communicate and engage other young people in issues and topics that mattered. As well as providing the springboard into an ever changing, exciting and lucky career working with some of the most talented and focused radio broadcasters, programmers and commercial heads ever.

The station manager Kenny Mach can be contacted by for more information and to offer support.

The future of KIC is in uncertain waters – the team are actively looking at alternative funding options in order to continue providing volunteer and training opportunities to the young people of the West Midlands and protect the use of a suite of radio studios and broadcasting equipment. KIC is an amazing project to empower young people and continute the excitment of radio within young people, tomorrow’s generation …..

But don’t just take my word for it:

“KIC plays a vital role in ensuring that we do not condemn a whole generation to disempowerment and disenfranchisement…”
Paul Brighton (The Head of Media at the University of Wolverhampton)

“The withdrawal of funding from KIC is a devastating blow in this area to disadvantaged schools…where else are poor students going to find a platform to develop and progress?”
Angela Leary (Head of Media, New Academy Wolverhampton)

“Our learners are often from deprived parts of the city and more than anything at this stage in their lives, they need the inspiration to broaden their outlook and see new goals for the future. With its excellent staff and professional environment, KIC FM does this effortlessly.”
Peter Cole (Head Of Media, Wolverhampton College)

I discovered Kic FM at a time when I badly need a distraction in my life, and it worked. I am part of the ‘lost generation’, unable to get a job since graduation and all the feelings of worthlessness and disappointment that come with that, completely went away after one day at Kic FM. The friendly, welcoming and encouraging atmosphere was exactly what I needed, and thousands like me will lose out if community radio stations are closed throughout the country. Kic FM provides friendship, important media skills and a sense of purpose for those who are floundering in this economy.
Tej Kaur Rai (Volunteer)

Kic FM has been a revelation for me, it has given me confidence and belief in my own ability and also allowed me to stamp my own, unique style. It will be a travesty if Kic FM was to close.
Tom Smith (Volunteer)

Kic FM has helped me achieve the best of my abilities; they have helped me overcome my fear of nervousness and helped me towards achieving what I want in life. They all are great and without Kic none of this would be possible.
Jamie Cooper (Volunteer)

Disclaimer – All posts and views are my own, and are not endorsed or representative of any current or previous employer.

Images – Kic FM