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Community radio

radio-boothCommunity radio celebrates its fifth birthday today.

More than 8 million listeners can now tune into community stations the length and breadth of the UK.

And over the past five years thousands of people have been able to get their first foothold in broadcasting by volunteering at these stations.

The sector has thrived since the first service – The Eye in Melton Mowbray – started broadcasting in November 2005.

Local benefits

Since then Ofcom has awarded community radio licences to 205 groups and there are currently more than 140 stations broadcasting around the country.

Community radio at a glance

Awaz logoAwaz FM broadcasts for Glaswegian Asians

Takeover logoTakeover Radio is by and for children in Leicester

Raidi Filte logoRaidió Fáilte broadcasts to the Irish language community in Belfast

Siren FM logoSiren FM broadcasts a service aimed at students, school children, young people and community groups in Lincoln

Revival Radio logoRevival Radio broadcasts from a Christian perspective to the people of Cumbernauld

Resonance FM logoResonance FM is a sound art station in central London

These stations typically cover small geographical areas of up to a 5km radius and can cater for whole communities or for different areas of interest.

They provide benefits to local communities and add a richness and variety to the services already provided by the BBC and commercial radio.

Each typically provides 81 hours of original and distinctive output a week mostly locally produced and operates with 74 volunteers who together give around 214 hours of their time a week.

Training

Around 60% of community stations are aimed at the general population within a specific area, while the remaining 40% of stations are for a particular community of interest.

Each station is also required to provide training and accessibility.

For example, west London station Bang Radio delivered broadcast training to over 230 young people in the year to April 2008 , and continues to offer further work placements to local school and college pupils.

Similarly, Wolverhampton’s WCR Radio provided accredited training to 49 of its 190 volunteers – 44 of whom now hold a qualification in radio production.

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