Ofcom has confirmed that ThisIsAlfred is the only applicant for an FM Community Radio service for Shaftesbury and the surrounding villages. Now the group planning the volunteer-run radio station is waiting to hear whether they have been awarded the 5-year broadcast licence.
In March, our team of Shaftesbury-based volunteers submitted proposals to operate a not-for-profit, community-focussed service to the broadcast regulator. The licence bid followed weeks of a year of surveys, consultations, meetings and planning.
Alfred’s team understands that they should hear whether their licence bid has been approved by the end of the year and, if our application is successful, Alfred should be on air by Autumn 2020.
“The regulatory process can be slow but we are not going to sit around waiting for something to happen,” explained Director Amber Harrison.
The group has already started working with local people, clubs and organisations that want to produce and present their own radio programmes.
“Tim Beal now compiles audio reports from Shaftesbury FC and Donhead United Football matches,” said Keri Jones, Alfred Director. Keri says he’s very proud of the quality of Alfred’s Carnival Radio Show, produced by twins Matt and Steve Appleby of the Kipling Carnival Club.
“The men’s knowledge and passion for Carnival is obvious when you listen to their reports and interviews during their programme on our website. They are great interviewers and clearly have a talent for this. I am really excited that we will soon be able to give more talented local people a platform to share their passions and enthusiasm for local life on-air.”
Click below to hear the debut carnival show.
Alfred’s volunteers are planning to start a radio training club with Shaftesbury and Gillingham U3A volunteers, too. “If residents of the SP7 or SP8 postcode areas want to get involved and receive free training in making radio and audio features in preparation for our launch, please get in touch,” said Director Kevin Harrison. The email address is hello@ThisIsAlfred.com.
As part of the application process, Alfred’s team surveyed 251 local people for their views on what a Shaftesbury radio station should feature. Programmes about the local arts scene, environmental issues and history featured strongly. There was significant demand for extended interviews with local people.
National and international news was a clear turn-off, though. “That might have been the ‘Brexit effect’ but some people have told us that they already know where to go for their fix of national news,” said Director Keri Jones, adding, “Shaftesbury people have spoken and we won’t air national news when we start Alfred’s radio service. We will, of course, undertake regular surveys to assess whether opinion has shifted.”
Many survey respondents said that they did not want to hear adverts on Alfred’s radio station, either. “We are not a money-making venture and we won’t have any paid staff so our running costs will be really low. I am pleased to say that we can sustain the service without the need to air wall-to-wall commercials,” Keri confirmed.