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More than 50 people attended the inaugural meeting of the new Petersfield community radio project, at The Petersfield School, on Saturday.

The chief correspondent for ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Richard Gaisford, welcomed everybody to the event and explained how he had taken his first steps in the media in community radio. He was followed by the project’s Stephen Martin, who explained the opportunities of radio as a medium before outlining the benefits for the town and the ambitious timeline of the station.

Martin said: “We were contacted in advance by more than 80 people who expressed an interest in volunteering for the project; more than 30 confirmed they would attend the meeting, yet on the day we had around 20 ‘new people’ turn up. That’s great news for the project and so typical of this
town.

“It’s our intention to launch initially with a podcast, probably in June, which will then lead on to an internet stream and then, hopefully, a spot on local DAB or an FM frequency. It’s our ambition to be streaming content 24/7 from the autumn.

“That is obviously dependent on our having sufficient volunteers to cover all aspects of the project, from production right through to marketing. And we also need to ensure we are able to fundraise the minimum amount required to cover all the initial expenses.

It’s an ambitious schedule but we saw on Saturday the enthusiasm already present in the potential volunteers who attended the meeting.”

Martin, who has worked in the media sector for nearly 30 years, has christened the approach the team are taking an ‘open radio model’. It’s totally local in that it is produced by volunteers from the community, for members of the community. It is a completely not-for-profit project which has been constituted for social gain and will be supported by donations, grants and support from the local business community, both large and small.

Another volunteer, Dave Bowers, added: “Radio is still the most trusted medium out there and it reaches 90 per cent of the population on a weekly basis. We’re merely looking to reach the 15,000 people who live in this town of ours.

“We already have the support of The Petersfield School, Bedales, and Churcher’s College, and we will be using our contacts to recruit experienced media professionals who can help in providing training for pupils keen to take their first steps in media. In addition, we have also partnered with the Petersfield Museum, with whom we will be undertaking a comprehensive aural history project.

“It is our aim to make Petersfield community radio a soundtrack to the town’s festivals and public events; we will illuminate the creativity that powers our local arts scene and will be a public service to share opinion, ideas and experience. It’s a really exciting time for the town and its community.”

To illustrate the inclusive nature of the project – and after some coaching from the experienced Gaisford – one of the youngest volunteers, TPS year-eight pupil Julian Slusarczyk, interviewed one of the elder attendees, local author Rita Greer. His first attempt at interviewing may be heard on the project’s website.

The team behind Petersfield Community Radio would still like to hear from anybody who feels they would like to be part of the project or those who believe they have some of the key skills required to take it to the next stage.

The next meeting will be a Creative Event at Churcher’s College on Saturday 2 March. Further information can be found on the website at petersfieldradio.uk or by calling 01730 887399.