Radio listeners are about to suffer one of the biggest shake ups to radio listening since the 1960s saw the pirates replaced by networked national radio but it could be good news for both listeners and the emerging Community Radio scene.
Once there was just the BBC, then came BBC local radio like BBC Radio Medway, then commercial independents like Invicta. As time passed, BBC Radio Medway engulfed the whole of Kent rebranding as BBC Radio Kent, not so much local as regional. Now Heart (who morphed out of Invicta) , owned by the national Global radio group, is going regional and even national, with Breakfast and Drivetime programmes covering a greater area, minimising the localness of their output.
But what of the smaller independents? Kent was once blessed with TLR in Thanet, CTFM in Canterbury, CTR in Maidstone and a host of others, all providing local output but now swept up in the regional KMFM.
The future for truly local radio it would seem rests with Community Radio, small scale, small area local radio run by local people from the community they serve. People with real knowledge of their local area and a passion not only for where they live but for quality radio production as well. Only on Community Radio stations will listeners find news and events from their local community, the showcasing of local community groups and individuals’ achievements, the covering of issues pertinent to the local community, local information and travel news, often presented by someone the listener may even know personally. All of this is being achieved on a budget, restricted by Ofcom, to a tiny fraction of that enjoyed by the bigger so called local radio stations and the licence fee collecting BBC.
The county of Kent is blessed with a multitude of such truly local community radio stations and many of them have picked up industry awards for their output.
Academy FM (Folkestone) 105.9
Academy FM (Ramsgate) 107.8
BRFM (Sheppey, Sheerness) 95.6
CSR (Canterbury) 97.4
Cabin FM (Herne Bay) 94.6
Radio Ashford (Ashford) 107.1
SFM (Sittingbourne) 106.9
Sheppey FM (Sheerness) 92.2
They all also have websites with an online listen option with many of them giving options to listen again to certain special programmes and features.
Why not give them a try? Rediscover local radio.
Peter Guise, Cabin FM