Getting first-time voters to participate in elections and making sure their hopes and expectations are taken into account are vital to their future. Radio plays an indispensable role in civic education. How can we make sure the voices of these young people are heard and that they are kept informed about electoral issues?


By encouraging interaction between radio stations and young people we can give them a means to express, directly (via radio programmes) or indirectly (through participation in forums on the station’s Facebook page or website), their desires, plans and concerns, as well as to react to a programme and question the media.

The voice of young people can also be heard through associations (university, rural, activist, etc.) for which the radio can act as a relay by having them participate in debates, by presenting “youth” initiatives and by forging editorial partnerships with the most dynamic among them.

We need to arouse interest of young people with programmes devoted to issues that primarily affect the 15-30 age group (education, university life, employment, competitive exams, school insurance, etc.), if possible with guests they can relate to, with topics they are passionate about, such as sports and music, and with dynamic hosts who speak the language of “youth”.


By conducting interviews with experts in constitutional law, political commentators, sociologists, representatives of civil society organisations or international organisations, radio stations can help young people understand why their vote matters.

Through micro-programmes or sketches/spots of from 1 minute 30 to 2 minutes (“positive” vox pops) we can show them that their vote really does count. For example, young people say there is no point in voting (“it will not change anything …”) and others reply that it is important and explain how it can be decisive for their future (opt for a humorous tone and the language used by young people).

Be careful to avoid optimistic idealism and allow the credibility of the elections to be challenged. It is also necessary to make young people aware that the election is only a beginning and that it is essential that they get involved in the citizen control of how their country is run.

Provide the information they need to work out WHEN, WHERE, HOW and for whom TO VOTE

This information, which is essentially practical, is particularly important for those voting for the first time. Journalists can provide listeners with this information through “voicers” or “box” clips in news programmes. Interviews with officials of independent national electoral commissions (CENI, etc.) are nevertheless useful for clarifying certain aspects and for getting the institutional message across. Public information “micro-programmes” combine these two aspects and keep the listener’s interest thanks to their “short” format.

Radio quizzes relating to a variety of civic education issues (what conditions must you meet to vote or be a candidate, what power do members of parliament actually have?) can be used alongside the above.

Do bear in mind that young people are not all the same. Their concerns differ depending on whether they are young men, young women, rural or urban, whether they have received an education or not. In addition, each young adult has his or her own degree of sensitivity and opinions even if they are often less strong than those of older people. Be careful also not to forget those who do not have a high enough level of education to easily grasp all the issues.

Young voters are often even less clear than their elders on the different parties, their leaders and what sets them apart. Radio should help them to compare the competing policy statements and manifestos, in particular in favour of young people, while giving voice to their hopes and expectations.

It is up to journalists to interrogate and challenge party leaders or their spokespersons in interviews to be broadcast on radio or for use in drawing up portraits, or voicers comparing their manifestos (what are their proposals for training, employment, housing, health, etc.).

It is also up to journalists to come up with ways in which young people can challenge candidates or their representatives, either directly or by asking questions previously collected from young people. Radio debates between political leaders, generally very popular with listeners of all generations, should be publicised in advance and absolutely must include the issues of interest to young people mentioned above.

Concerts, exhibitions and other cultural events, related to the theme of “voting”, are unusual forms of expression enjoyed by young people that radio stations can organise or broadcast.

In all programmes and productions, gender balance is key, both when it comes to dealing with the concerns of either gender and allowing both men and women to express themselves, and be, on air.