With the collation government cutting public spending to most public services, including councils this raises the questions – will Community Radio Stations be able to ride it out. With 2010 proving to be a difficult year for stations, will 2011 put more pressure on these services meaning they can no longer support themselves financially. For example, Chorley FM widely featured during Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights is facing some financial troubles at the moment – this was a recent article published in Chorley Guardian.
This short, straight to the point post is going to give my views on why community stations should be given sufficient funding and allowing them to have a brighter future. I’m also going to touch on the benefits I’ve witnessed through working in community stations. And suggesting a way they could be saved from finical hardship.
Associated with community radio the benefits are endless for the local community, the programmes they tune into are very hyper-local informing the audience of the local news, events, etc. That’s not it, having been involved in community radio from early on in life I have seen what community radio can do for people, it can give people the confidence that they once did not have, it also gives the people who work within stations to meet new people and pick up new skills that will help them in later life. It can also good them some sort of footing, inspiration to pursuit a career involved in the media industry or further education.
There might be a solution, Ofcom could alter the rules of a Community Radio License allowing the station to gain more outside revenue from local business instead of relying heavily on grants and other sources of community funding. In doing this, this would hopefully give the community radio stations a chance to survive on their own backs especially through this age of austerity.
For a minute though, imagine if community radio stations were axed across the entire of the UK. Would it have any impact on people’s lives? Of course it would, because there is more to the work you hear on the airwaves. Behind the scenes these stations provide more services than the music and banter on air. I remember when I was younger and living in Liverpool, I was invited to take part in a temporary station that was called CAB Radio, they’re studios were based in the middle of a busy shopping centre and encouraged the local residents to drop by the studio for advice with any problems they had and that was the main focus of that particular station’s work. Which goes with these small stations up and down the country.
One of the things I love about community radio, it’s a source to discover new music. Music you would never come across on any commercial radio station, occasionally the BBC but even still very limited. It gives these bands and artists the building blocks to begin to build a small fan base before they start exploring the other avenues around them.
It’s not all doom and gloom, right?
It’s not, this post is highlighting the fact that something has to be changed within Ofcom guidelines that allows community stations to seek more outside funding, because money earned through community projects goes back into the community not someone‘s pocket. Last week STV News reported that a new community radio station had received a grant allowing them to start broadcasting online from Larkhall, more about Lanarkshire’s Community Radio Station can be found here. I don’t know if they have plans to apply for an FM license.
What’s the future? I don’t know, I do hope it is one where community radio stations are still operating, providing their audience with what they want from their station. This subject will be discussed in the forthcoming Media Debate podcast which will be making it’s début over the next couple of weeks.