The Guardian’s Opinion piece ”Local broadcasting is dying out with a whimper. We’ll miss it when it’s gone.” was an interesting read but doesn’t tell the whole story. Whilst it’s true that the commercial radio giants are streamlining their services – and why wouldn’t they, they are businesses after all – there is a very vibrant local radio scene which has been growing for 18 years.
There are nearly 300 Ofcom licenced Community Radio stations across the UK. Each one is different, individual, unique and celebrating the best their local area has to offer, appealing to those who want to #ListenLocal.
More and more listeners are choosing local radio as can be seen by increased streaming figures, length of listening time, levels of engagement and queues of people wanting to get involved.
People don’t always need to know what the traffic is like on a motorway 100 miles away, but they do need to know if they should allow extra time to get to work because yet again there are roadworks on the corner. They want to know the plans for the High Street and what’s going on in their town. They want to hear local voices, talking to local people and businesses about local issues.
The voices you hear won’t be celebrities, but they will be local voices, more like listening to your best friend than a presenter. They can provide detailed coverage which bigger stations cannot match.
Behind the scenes, volunteers can learn how to make great radio including news, drama, conversation, and live music. Some stations offer courses leading to formal qualifications. There’s a lot of professional broadcasting expertise too, alongside beginners and people with experience in all walks of life.
Businesses are exploring how to invest in the #ListenLocal message not just through advertising but through their CSR activity.
Community radio is largely priced out of the Rajar survey, but that doesn’t mean nobody is listening. There’s no identikit radio here, instead you’ll find a wonderful diverse mix of voices, music and content, all free to air and easily accessed without leaving the house or using technology.
Local radio is alive and well, and all set for a renaissance.