Ofcom License Changes

Regulator Ofcom, has extended the licenses of two community stations by five years. Cando FM, serving Barrow-in-Furness, is now permitted to broadcast until the 22nd November 2025. While Koast FM, which serves the Ashington area of Northumberland, is permitted to broadcast until 10th December 2025.

Meanwhile, The 3Gs Development Trust which had intended to provide a service to Merthyr Tydfil under Merthyr Radio name, has handed back its license award to Ofcom. This service had not commenced broadcasts, and will now not launch.

Two Community Stations to Increase Coverage Area

Beginning in West London, Punjabi station Desi Radio has been granted a power output increase to allow its existing MW transmitter. Due to an increase in steel structure buildings and electronic devices, this transmitter broadcasting to the Southall area is impacted by the ‘noise floor’ interference, which the power output increase will overcome.

Additionally, the target community served by Desi Radio has spread out to surrounding areas. The power output increase will also allow the transmitter to serve these areas. This will re-align Desi Radio with its target audience and the community it serves.

Seahaven FM, currently serving the Neahaven area, is to expand to also serve Eastbourne using a second transmitter. This will be combined with a power output increase at the current transmitter. A previous similar request for a second transmitter was rejected by Ofcom, due to a lack of contiguous coverage. However, the combination of new transmitter and power increase overcomes this hurdle.

Seahaven FM is a locally focused service, and the extension to Eastbourne means more people in the area can access local content in their area, something that commercial stations fail to provide. Additionally, the power output increase will also improve coverage for those in the existing license area.

Schedule Changes at Rossendale Radio

I don’t routinely publish posts on schedule changes, but there has been a significant schedule change at Rossendale Radio worthy of a news post.

Beginning with breakfast, Pete Sweetmore returns to the station to present Valley Breakfast on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Paul Jenkins presents the show on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with this alternating arrangement being a permanent replacement for Tony Horne, who has now left the station.

Another significant change is Bob Chadwick replacing Tony Nixon on the drive time show. Tony remains at the station, but is now concentrating on his role of station manager.

Other presenters on the new line up include ex 2BR presenter Dave Metcalfe who presents The Valley Today from 11am till 3pm, and Derek Webster who presents the late show.

Rossendale Radio broadcasts on FM to the Rossendale area of Lancashire.

Further Two Community Stations Extend Coverage

A further two community stations have opened new transmitters, extending coverage and/or improving reception.

Derbyshire based Erewash Sound has added a new transmitter for Long Eaton, which is broadcasting on 103.5 FM, to compliment its existing Ilkeston 96.8 FM transmitter.

Beyond Radio now has a transmitter serving Carnforth in Lancashire, operating on 107.5 FM. The station already served Lancaster and Morecambe on 103.5 FM.

Cuillin FM Rebrands to Radio Skye

A change that I have just become aware of is the re-branding of Cuillin FM to Radio Skye, which took place in July of this year (2020).

The station broadcasts 24/7 to the Skye and Lochalsh area on FM, with a varied schedule including Gaelic programming.

The station is licensed as a commercial station, but is locally focused, and has partnerships in place with several local organisations.

Bayside Radio Joins DAB+

Bayside Radio has begun broadcasting using DAB+ on the North West Wales multiplex. The locally focused community station is centred on the Bay of Colwyn, and broadcasts to that area on 87.7 FM.

The DAB+ version of the station uses a bit rate of 32 kbps. Albeit sound quality will be on the poor side, the station is in stereo. Only DAB+ compatible radios can access the service, labelled as Bayside N.Wales.

New Station Launches

New community station SWU FM launched on Friday (23rd October 2020), at 5pm. The station is available on 103.7 FM in Bristol, and focuses on underground music, and I’m led to believe the initials stand for South West Underground. The station fills a gap not covered by stations in the area.

Meanwhile, Coast and County Radio has begun testing on 97.4 FM to the Scarborough area. The name of the station is familiar, as Coast and Country Radio previously broadcast on the North Yorkshire DAB multiplex. This service will be locally focused, and will provide an alternative to Greatest Hits Radio, which replaced Yorkshire Coast Radio and no longer provides any local content.

Caroline Community Radio Gets Ready for Launch

Caroline Community Radio is launching tomorrow (19th October 2020) at 6am. The station broadcasts to the Maldon District of Essex on 94.7 FM.

The station is staffed entirely by volunteers, and receives technical support from former pirate station Radio Caroline, which broadcasts to nearby Suffolk on 648 MW.

The presenter line up includes some Radio Caroline DJs, whilst music is a varied selection from the last five decades.

Update (19/10/2020): The station has now launched, and I’ve since learnt that the Radio Caroline connections extend a little further. To be clear, both organisations are independent, but Radio Caroline did offer the use of the Caroline name to Caroline Community Radio. Additionally, the Radio Caroline provides a sustaining service to Caroline Community Radio at weekends, in the form of a simulcast of online station Caroline Flashback.

Local Radio Day – 12th October

This Monday (12th October 2020), sees the fifth Local Radio Day, a day which celebrates and promotes genuine local radio. The initiative was first started by the now defunct UKRD Group, and is now led by the Local Radio Alliance.

Various community stations are taking part, along with BBC Local Radio, and some independent commercial stations. Additionally, the Community Media Association, Community Radio Awards, and The Radio Academy are supporting the initiative.

The event normally takes place in May, but has been delayed this year by the Covid-19 pandemic.

More details can found on the Local Radio Day website at www.localradioday.co.uk

Launch Dates for New Community Stations

As previously reported, Caroline Community Radio (not to be confused with similarly named Radio Caroline) is testing on 94.7 FM. The planned launch date has now been established as 19th October 2020. The station will serve Maldon and Burnham-in-Couch in Essex.

Salaam BCR (Bury Community Radio) is set to launch on the 14th October (2020), and is targeting the Muslim community of Bury. The station is broadcasting on AM, so it is likely that there will be over-spill into other areas. It is unclear whether the station is connected to the similarly named Salaam Radio based in Peterborough.

Both stations will be added to the station directory once they are confirmed to have launched.