The fledgling Petersfield Community Radio project has been
able to buy essential recording equipment thanks to a four-figure donation from
a business based in the town.
The project – which aims to start ‘broadcasting’ initially with
a podcast in the summer – is already uploading stories and audio to its
website, but is now looking to undertake more ambitious production with the
purchase of handheld audio recorders and accessories, to capture stories around
the town, and a pair of broadcast-quality microphones that can be used for
interviews in any indoor location.
The donation came from financial planning company Informed
Choice, based in Station Rd, and director Shelley McCarthy is hoping other
local businesses will follow suit.
“This project is a great opportunity for the town of Petersfield, which is sorely underserved when it comes to local radio, owing to its location. But as it doesn’t have the backing of a media conglomerate it is being driven by a large group of enthusiastic volunteers, of which I am one.
“Hopefully other locally based businesses can see the potential there is here for a community radio station and join us in supporting it financially. We were delighted to become the project’s first donor and we look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship.”
Petersfield Community Radio’s Stephen Martin added:
“The donation from Informed Choice was most welcome and we’d like to thank them for supporting the concept so early in its development. The money has already proved a real boon and is enabling us to record a number of different features which will be used in long and short forms.
“We also have local business support from Antrobus House, which is providing our accountancy services, while we have partnered with four local schools – Bedales, Churcher’s College, Ditcham Park and The Petersfield School – and the town’s museum.
“The project is gaining momentum and we’d be delighted to hear from anybody else who would be keen to support it or volunteer to be a part of it.”
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.
A group of community-minded media professionals from the Petersfield area – including Richard Gaisford, ITV Good Morning Britain’s chief correspondent – are aiming to create a community radio station for the town, and hope potential volunteers will join them at a launch meeting in January.
Petersfield-based media executive Stephen Martin is also supporting the not-for-profit Petersfield Community Radio project and believes the station – which would be manned entirely by volunteers – would celebrate both the town and its residents and would sit comfortably alongside existing media.
He explained: “Community radio can serve an area like no other form of media and there’s a superb opportunity in Petersfield for people from all walks of local life to get involved. A community radio station, initially broadcast via the internet, would complement the newspapers and magazines already serving the town.”
“We’re very excited about the potential here in Petersfield because it’s a town with a fabulous community ethos and we hope we can tap into that energy and utilise the various talents of people who will volunteer to make a real success of the project.”
“We’ve had a very positive response from community groups, other media and schools – including both TPS and Churcher’s – we’ve approached and we are planning to move forward with the project in early 2019.”
Gaisford began his career in hospital radio before spending the last 19 years on breakfast TV, reporting on major conflicts, natural disasters and political turmoil around the world. Having lived in the area with his family for more than 16 years, he was keen to throw his weight behind the project.
He explained: “I think it’s a great idea for the town and the emphasis on ‘community’ and ‘social good’ can only be beneficial all round. I’m keen to help out with the project whenever my schedule would allow, particularly as it will help bring all ages together with a common goal.”
Martin has already utilised his extensive contacts book to secure the services of a team of professional broadcasters and producers who will help develop skills – such as interviewing, editing, production and story treatment – in the station’s broadcast volunteers.
But, as he added, there is a lot more to be done behind the scenes as well as on the microphone. He said: “The actual broadcasting is just the part of the project of which the listener is aware – there is a lot of other work to be done that will enable us to launch and maintain the service, such as graphic design, web design, equipment, promotion, sales etc.”
“We already have a local accountant and a lawyer who have volunteered their services to help with the legal and financial side of things – but there are many roles to be filled by people who have no intention of getting behind the mic.”
“It’s something residents can really get involved with, enjoy and witness the benefits themselves; it will be created by volunteers from the local community, for the community, and everyone is welcome to become a part of it.”
As well as a source for ‘What’s On’ information to support the town’s own events and social activities, the station will aim to provide entertainment, community reporting, and a daily connection between people from all walks of local life – all for social gain. It will also act as a public forum in which to share opinion, ideas and experience.
Martin would like to hear from anybody interested in participating in the project in advance of the meeting, for which a time and place is yet to be finalised. To register interest in becoming a part of Petersfield Community Radio, simply email Stephen Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact details and area of interest.