What Motivates People to Contribute to Community Media?

(This a responce to an email quiry that I’ve shifted over to here, as it might be of some interest to others).

Morning all

As it happens, this is what my PhD research was about – what is it that motivates people to volunteer for community media activities.

Needless to say, there is no single or easy answer to explain what drives people to contribute to community media, as what motivates people to do different things in society is complex, multi-layered and often seemingly contradictory.

I took a qualitative approach to the research, based on ethnographic research techniques, aligned with a symbolic interactionist approach. Symbolic interactionism is sometimes called social psychology, though I’m neither a psychologist or a sociologist, but something of a hybrid.

The presentation I gave at the Melton radio event was about the types of ethnographic work that can be done by community groups with little expertise and low levels of infrastructure (I’ve attached the notes here).

I concluded my thesis with a chapter on a potential to develop a research project using the Myers Briggs Type Indicators as a framework to start thinking about questions related to community media volunteering.

The MBTI’s are structured around sixteen types, or four clusters: artisans, guardians, rationales, and advocates.

Each type represents a different cognitive view and ability to process our social interactions in different ways. There is no single way that we all interact and understand the world, we look at these things from many different viewpoints, cultural frameworks, psychological processes, and so on. Getting some sense of what is ‘motivational’ for different types of people is an important step in understanding where people are coming from and what they might be able to achieve, or go beyond achieving, when they volunteer or work in community media situations.

So, if community media only attracts the ‘artisan’ types, who are performers, we are excluding or failing to understand the ‘nurturing’ types. If we only give priority to the ‘inspector’ or ‘judging’ types (as happens in schools), then we are failing to engage with the ‘teachers’ or the ‘provider’ or ‘inventor’ types. Perhaps this explains why our schools have become exam factories and have stopped being places of learning?

I realise this is quite crude as a way of categorising people, and this is a very complex set of issues with massive ethical concerns about undertaking research in this way.

I’m happy to discuss these ideas in more detail with all, if you don’t mind I’ll shift the discussion over to Discourse so we can track the contributions and links more easily.

This is where we have to gear-up to seek funding for a more detailed and sustained research approach that is linked with different academic institutions.

I’m happy to support this and gather evidence about it, as it fits with some of the changes in my career pathway that are happening at the moment.



From: Bill Best bill.best@commedia.org.uk
Sent: 15 June 2018 17:49
To: council council@commedia.org.uk
Subject: Re: Volunteer research

Thanks for the feedback. I’ve passed it on to Neil Hollins.

A quick Google informs me that there is an ‘ABCE model’ of general volunteering: affiliation (A), beliefs, (B) career development, © and (E) egoistic. I’m sure that for different stations, different individuals, and even for different programmes within a single station the scores for ABCE might vary quite widely.

And there’s some general information here:


It would be interesting to know if/where community radio might significantly differ from other examples of volunteering?

Best regards


Community Media Association


Canstream Internet Radio

On 15 June 2018 at 17:44, Sana Tariq sana@radiodawn.com wrote:
Hi Bill
I agree it sounds like an interesting an useful research area. Perhaps we can carry out our own, I’m happy to do surveys and interviews in Nottingham & if a few others want to do the same we can get it published under the CMA banner.
I’ve already been a part of a publication and know a senior researcher who works for a university and I’m sure he will advice us of how to go about this.
I’ve attached a link to my publication below where we took a similar approach.
Best wishes

On 15 Jun 2018, at 17:37, Bill Best bill.best@commedia.org.uk wrote:

Does anybody know about any research on the motivations of community radio volunteers?

Sounds like it would be useful research area,

Please get back to me with any advice.

Many thanks


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Neil Hollins Neil.Hollins@bcu.ac.uk
Date: 15 June 2018 at 15:34
Subject: Volunteer research
To: “bill.best@commedia.org.ukbill.best@commedia.org.uk
Hi Bill,

Hope you are well.

I wonder if you can help please. I’m doing some research for an upcoming Radio conference in Italy which I am phenomenally lucky to have the opportunity to go to.

I will be focussing on the motivations of community radio volunteers and wonder if you know of any CMA members who may have done some research in this area to better understand their own volunteers. It’s very doubtful I appreciate – I would never have had the luxury to be so self-indulgent when I was at Switch Radio - but you never know!! If you don’t ask you don’t get!!



Neil Hollins
Lecturer in Radio Production
I am available in the office between 10am-2pm every Wednesday for personal tutorials. Please book a slot via Moodle http://moodle.bcu.ac.uk/mod/scheduler/view.php?id=565463

Room MP 347 - Birmingham School of Media
Birmingham City University, The Parkside Building
5 Cardigan Street, Birmingham, B4 7BD
E: neil.hollins@bcu.ac.uk
T: 0121 331 7955


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This makes me think it would be valuable to have a research section on our website where we could collate and publish recent papers on community media, perhaps a short summary of findings with a link to a full pdf. Could be very valuable for us/our members/stakeholders/researchers.

Yes, there are probably a couple of ways we can do this, a useful starting poitn is to get some interested researchers and academics to contribute to some of the discussions on here. There is definitely a need for a stronger base that can support information and data about the on going challenges of community media. I’ll keep banging the drum and looking for funding to support this.