Welcome to Community Media
News #37 March 2020
Welcome to the March 2020 edition of Community Media News and what a month it has been...

We start with a statement on the health crisis from the Community Media Association.

In Sector News we announce the postponement of the 2020 Community Media Conference and the news of ten new community radio licences awarded.

In Podcast, Audio & Digital, we have news of Health Info Radio, a new initiative for the health crisis. There are some ideas from Ann Charles on broadcasting when staff and contributors are in different locations. And Rob Watson has recommendations for video conferencing.

In Community Updates, Radio Verulam has teamed up with the local clergy team in St Albans. And two Irish community radio stations are featured in the latest edition of WrelessFlirt.

In Funding & Awards, the Audio Content Fund has extended their deadline for Round 4 and they announce a new fund to support audiences during the coronavirus crisis. We also share a guide on accessing funding.

In Strategy, Policy and Licensing, we have a blog from David Lloyd on the future of BBC Local Radio.

In Events & Training, we announce that European Literacy week has been postponed until further notice.

Lastly in Tech Corner, we have health and safety advice for creating a safe radio station during the epidemic.

As always there is too much to cram in here so please check out the Chat Forum for an offer of help from Radio TechCon for community radio stations, information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the #RadioFromHome initiative, our campaign for community radio funding, a survey on SSDAB rollout, a Community Broadcasters' Impact Survey, and more.

And as always, do check our social media channels (Twitter, Facebook) to keep up to speed with more news and information.

Have a story about your community radio station or community media project to share? Email your news, press releases, event details and stories to
CMA logo
Dear Members, Supporters, and Friends
Given the current situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, the Community Media Association would like take this opportunity to reassure all our members and the wider sector that we will be here to work with you throughout the developing health crisis.
Understandably in these uncertain times, all of us will be facing a variety of tough challenges and we want you to know that we will be doing the best we can with the resources available to support individual organisations and the sector as a whole - so do keep in touch.
The situation around the developing COVID-19 pandemic is changing every day, so we suggest that all community media organisations keep vigilant about developing contingency plans and keeping abreast of updates from the official sources.
Our number one priority for the foreseeable future is to support our people working in the community media sector and their projects and organisations. We want as strong a sector as possible for when we emerge on the other side of this crisis.
These are the first steps that we are taking to help community radio stations and other community media projects:
  • We will liaise with Ofcom and act as an effective conduit of information between the regulator and the sector. Yesterday we published updated advice here from Ofcom on the situation.
  • We will liaise with DCMS and act to convey our sector’s needs and requirements to the Department. We shared the news on Key Workers as soon as it was known [link]. 
  • We will liaise with Public Health England, NHS England, and the other equivalent health bodies to ensure that our sector has up-to-date information on the current situation for broadcast.
  • For Ofcom-licensed community radio stations and other funded projects, a priority is to stay in business. We advise that all current contracts are fulfilled with funding bodies and other third parties.
  • We ask that our sector thinks about what help can be offered to their communities with regard to the current health crisis.
We appear to only be at the start of this crisis. We intend to collect intelligence from across the sector so that we can understand what is needed and we will do our best to communicate to the DCMS and Ofcom about the short and long-term financial implications for the sector.
Sector News
2020 Community Media Conference - Postponed
Following Government guidelines on social distancing, we regret to announce that the 2020 Community Media Conference scheduled for June has been postponed. However, we look forward to celebrating our sector at the next Conference in 2021.

This month Ofcom announced the award of nine new community radio licences in England, and one in Scotland. The new stations will serve communities in Melksham in Wiltshire; Thornbury in Gloucestershire; Wimborne Minster, East Dorset, Edinburgh; Chesterfield; Magna Park and Lutterworth in Leicestershire; Northwich, Cheshire; Royal Tunbridge Wells; and two services for Scarborough in North Yorkshire. The licences are awarded for a five-year period. 

  • Radio Melksham (Radio Melksham Limited) will be run by volunteers for the community of Melksham and the surrounding area.
  • Radio Wimborne (Radio Wimborne Limited) will provide local news and content for the people of Wimborne Minster and neighbouring towns and village. The station will highlight community issues and provide training and support for young people interested in media.
  • Sam Radio (SAM Radio Limited) will serve Edinburgh’s Asian community with an interactive service of entertaining, informative and educational programmes, broadcasting in Hindustani, Punjabi and Arabic.
  • Thornbury Radio (Thornbury Media Community Interest Company) will provide a radio service for the residents of Thornbury with local information and news and opportunities to reduce social isolation and make new friends.
  • Cheshire FM (Cheshire Radio Limited) has been engaging with the local community via social media to understand what they want from the service and to make sure its programmes cater to their tastes and interests.
  • Coast and County Radio (Scarborough Radio Limited) will serve the community of Scarborough. Its programmes will feature local charitable and educational organisations, and encourage listeners to participate in local events.
  • Cross Counties Radio is for people who live and work in Lutterworth and Magna Park. It will be run by volunteers from the local community and will offer broadcast training opportunities.
  • Elastic FM will serve the people of Chesterfield. It will bring individuals, communities and organisations together, promoting social cohesion and community dialogue.
  • Radio Scarborough is for the people of Scarborough. It has established relationships with local organisations and charities, and will work with volunteers from the local community.
  • West Kent Radio is for people aged 45+ in the Royal Tunbridge Wells area. It will promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and the importance of maintaining good personal, mental and physical health.
Podcast, Audio & Digital
Coronavirus Audio Exchange
Health Info Radio
Health Info Radio provides clear, factual advice about coronavirus and how to stay safe. Staffed by volunteers, the station promises no hype, no opinions, no phone-ins - just clear information on the pandemic as it unfolds. Under these exceptional circumstances Health Info Radio is offering its content to community radio stations for free (terms apply). Information on how the content can be relayed through your community stations (either the entire output, or just the bulletins) is available on the Radio Content website here
Emergency Preparedness: Radio, Podcasting and Coronavirus

The coronavirus outbreak is causing challenges across the world and broadcast radio especially need to report the facts accurately, as well as deal with the practical issues that are faced when guests and members of staff are not able to travel and operate as normal.

Radio producer Ann Charles offers some advice on her blog 'Making Radio Better' for ways to work around having staff and contributors in different locations – especially those smaller stations who might not have a team tasked with thinking about this. Remote guests, team meetings, interviews at a distance, mobile journalism, sharing footage, playout, remote access and licence trials are all covered in the post here.

Shifting Podcasts to Online Discussions

With recording suspended on Decentered Media Podcasts for the time being because of coronavirus, media for social change podcaster Rob Watson shares his recommendations for successful video or audio calls and web-conferencing from home on the Decentered Media website here
Radio Documentary on the Evolution of Local Radio 
The Village Loudspeaker, a new documentary charting the evolution of local radio through the years is available on BBC iPlayer until the 4th April. Featuring contributions from local radio broadcasters across the UK the programme includes well known voices from the airwaves and rare archive, much of which hasn’t been seen since its original transmission. Watch on BBC iPlayer here.
Community Updates
Local St Albans Clergy team up with Radio Verulam for LiveLent

St Albans community station Radio Verulam has teamed up with some of the church leaders in the local Diocese to provide 6 weekly podcasts as part of the Church of England's 2020 Lent campaign called #LiveLent: Care for God’s Creation.

#LiveLent  is the Church of England's Lent Campaign for 2020. It contains weekly themes shaped around the first Genesis account of creation and explores the urgent need for humans to value and protect the abundance God has created. Listen to week one here.

LiveLent has been airing weekly from Sunday 1st March on the Breakfast and Drivetime programmes on 92.6FM on Radio Verulam and the podcast reflections are available to listen to at

Community Radio Stations Featured in WirelessFlirt 
Wireless Flirt is a blog from academic and self-confessed radio addict John Walsh that covers all aspects of radio in and from Ireland: analogue and digital broadcasting, community, regional and national, niche, pirate and alternative, podcasting, questions of ownership and diversity and aspects of radio’s past, present and future. The March edition of Wireless Flirt is now online, featuring two community stations in the west of Ireland @LoughreaRadio and X-PO Folk Radio, Belfast Irish language station @raidiofailte and more from the Irish pirate radio archive @pirate_ie.
Funding & Awards
Audio Content Fund - Deadline Extended
Audio Content Fund Logo
The Audio Content Fund provides funding to support the creation of original and distinctive public service radio programming that is traditionally more difficult to support on a commercial basis.

The Fund will accept applications from production companies for audio content that is guaranteed to be broadcast on an Ofcom-licensed radio station (UK commercial or community radio stations that meet the funding criteria).

The latest funding round is now open for bids and the deadline has been extended to the 27th Apr 20 at 12:59 pm.

The Audio Content Fund will aim to distribute £330k to projects up to £50k in size. Find out how to bid here and what makes a great bid here.

Special Funding Round -
Supporting Radio Audiences During the Coronavirus Crisis

The Audio Content Fund has announced a special funding round, for content that will support radio audiences during the coronavirus crisis.

Sam Bailey, Managing Director of the Audio Content Fund, said:

“We live in extraordinary times, and it’s already clear that radio will play a vital role in keeping communities and families together while they are physically apart. I want to make sure that ACF funding is available for radio stations and suppliers that have incredible ideas that will make people’s lives better during this difficult time.

The fund, which is financed by the UK Government, has made a minimum of £200,000 of its budget available for ideas that will improve the quality of listeners’ lives during restrictions in place due to Covid-19. The fund will operate on a rolling basis, remaining open until the ACF determine it is no longer necessary.  Ideas will be reviewed by the funding panel within two weeks, with funding for selected ideas made available promptly and upfront. For more information, click here.
A Guide for Navigating Funding Possibilities During Covid-19

Many charities and social enterprises are asking where they go next in the midst of the Covid-19. Good Finance, whose mission is to help charities and social enterprises navigate the world of social investment, has put some tips and information together to make it as easy as possible to navigate this changing landscape. The guide includes:

  1. Key principles to help your thinking
  2. Making the most of government advice
  3. What to consider with your current grants
  4. What to consider if you currently have social investment
  5. Navigating your relationship with banks
  6. Operational and business planning
  7. Further support & resources
Download the guide from the Good Finance website here.

Where Does BBC Radio Go From Here?

In this opinion piece, broadcaster and independent producer David Lloyd asks where does BBC radio go from here? He has once again made the case that the UK now needs to create a single sustainable tier of local radio "by bringing together small ILR, community radio and BBC local. Such a layer of non-metropolitan, thoroughly local stations would be funded by a decent contribution from the public purse (but not as much as the £124m plus other costs the BBC currently spends) plus a slice of some of whatever Facebook and the like volunteer to save their own reputation - and some commercial revenues." Read the full blog post here.
Events & Training
European Media Literacy Week- Postponed

A high level of media literacy is a key factor to enable citizens to make informed decisions in the digital age. Media literacy is a pre-requisite for a vibrant, modern democracy. The European Media Literacy Week is a new initiative by the European Commission to underline the societal importance of media literacy and promote media literacy initiatives and projects across the EU. The second edition was due to take place from 30 March to 5 April 2020 but as a precautionary measure in light of the COVID-19, the Commission is postponing this event, and the new date will be communicated as soon as possible.

Tech Corner
Tips for Creating a Safer Radio Station 
Prolific podcaster Rob Watson (Decentered Media) is working with Radio Ramadan in Leicester and they are planning for the broadcasting during Ramadan in a few weeks time. He's authored a risk assessment document for community radio studios given the advice about the coronavirus. If you have any further pointers, tips or advice, and can update him then he'll incorporate them into the document.

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