As part of PCI Media’s participatory design process, the Voces Nuestras / Our Voices program in Bolivia involved hosting a workshop in a small community in the highlands. The workshop focused on political participation, pluralism, and diversity with a team of five young adults between the ages of 18 and 22. After completing the workshop and receiving their materials, these young adults went back to their town to start producing their own program, Ciudad Espuesa.

The people in charge of Ciudad Espuesa initially faced many challenges from people in their community. No one in their town thought it would be possible to produce and transmit a participatory radio program—it had never been done before. The community put a lot of pressure on the show’s creators and constantly made fun of them. They faced heavy criticism from other established radio broadcasters that had programs with longer trajectories in the village.

As a result of the criticism, they started Ciudad Espuesa with fear and insecurity. The show was 45 episodes, and they faced the difficult task of transmitting the episodes in Spanish and the local language, Aymara. Despite the challenges, the completed production of the show, and in a highly participatory manner. Although the contests helped to creatively involve and expand the audience,  it was the radio drama itself that became so popular because of how innovative, different, and refreshing it was.

The show slowly captured a good portion of the local audience and it ended up surpassing the ratings of some of the most popular shows. The mayor of the town personally pushed for an appearance on the program. The show lasted ten months, and the transmissions—both in Spanish and in Aymara—ended up being the most popular radio show in the area for that period.

These young participants came into the workshop feeling that they were too young and unexperienced to produce a show that could be successful. They didn’t think they would be able to capture a wide audience because they were competing with much older communicators with long-spanning careers. They were really happy with the outcomes of their efforts, and the whole experience proved to be extremely important for them.

Ciudad Espuesa was the first show to be translated in an indigenous language, which was vital for reaching audiences in older and rural communities. After the program, more young people started participating as representatives in the local Ayus. The Ayus are traditional community organizations in the Andes that are like local indigenous governments, and they are usually formed exclusively by older men. Young people were motivated to participate in their political spaces because of the show. The results were huge.

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