Small stations bring big benefits for local communities

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Around 11 million people are now able to tune into neighborhood radio stations throughout the UK. This figure is up 17% year-on-year and a boost of more than a 3rd (36%) given that 2008, according to a brand-new report by Ofcom.

The Neighbourhood Radio Yearly Report offers a picture of neighborhood radio in the UK, which exposes a flourishing sector. Given that the first station went live 5 years ago, a new neighborhood radio station has actually released, usually, every 10 days. Today, a record 181 community stations are broadcasting and another 30 are preparing to take to the airwaves.

Local radio stations typically cover a small geographical area with a protection radius of as much as 5km and are run on a not-for-profit basis. They serve a wide variety of communities, targeting diverse audiences from rural to central city locations with content ranging from community news and information to spiritual problems to experimental music and RnB, for instance.

Ofcom Chief Executive, Ed Richards, stated: “The Community Radio Annual Report provides a motivating image of the state of community radio in the UK. In basic, it’s been a challenging few years for the radio sector. Community radio has actually shared these obstacles. In spite of this, it continues to provide local content and other community benefits. It is a genuine success story, and a great credit to the thousands of volunteers and lovers that make it happen.”

2 million hours of offering

All stations involve volunteers in numerous jobs, including as speakers. The typical station reports the participation of around 75 volunteers over a year. Across the market more than 40,000 volunteer hours are invested weekly producing more than 15,000 hours of initial radio output. Ofcom estimates that, with over 180 stations on air, volunteers currently contribute more than 2 million hours per year to community radio.

Chris Jones from Harborough FM in Market Harborough said: “One of the most gratifying achievements is enjoying individuals who initially came to us with little or no broadcasting experience being transformed into extremely qualified community radio broadcasters.”
Diverse audiences

A a great deal of neighborhood radio stations supply services for minority groups.

For instance, Diverse FM in Luton broadcasts in neighborhood languages such as Bengali, Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu, Pahari, Polish, Arabic, Swahili and Patwa.

Ashuk Ahmed at Diverse FM said: “Neighborhoods are used radio slots to transmit devoted programs, enabling them to ‘have a voice’ by raising concerns that pertain to them and promote much better understanding of each other’s culture, religion and issues … this has actually produced much better community cohesion, enabling celebration of cultural variety and understanding.”

Several stations likewise supply services for rural communities, such as Tempo FM in Wetherby (West Yorkshire). “The station provides a much valued “Voice for Wetherby” to the considerable benefit of the neighborhood, on a very limited budget,” stated Stuart Robinson from Pace FM. “Creating a brand-new focus for the location through the medium of radio, by connecting the various communities within the associated towns has been an excellent achievement.”
Social gain

In addition to providing distinct material, neighborhood radio stations such as LDC Leeds Radio deliver large benefits to people in the locations in which they broadcast. This includes offering training and work experience chances, contributions to regional education and supplying a voice to those, such as older individuals or speakers of minority languages, who may find it harder to access the media.

Rob Green from Halton Community Radio in Runcorn (Cheshire) stated: “Our station reaches parts of the community that other stations and neighborhood groups can not reach; for instance the house-bound and seriously disabled. Without the station they would not be able to take part in regional conversations and debate. This was the primary aim of the station and we are happy that we have actually handled to achieve this.”

shmuFM in Aberdeen has dealt with a range of partners to create a full-time training programme for prison prisoners including the production of programmes for broadcast on the community radio station. Murray Dawson from shmuFM said: “The plan has offered support, motivation and assistance to prisoners who continue to establish their skills, post release, which has actually contributed towards a break in their cycle of re-offending.”