Clitheroe and the Ribble Valley in Lancashire are tuning into their new community radio station from today.
Ribble Valley Radio, operating on a 28-day RSL licence is the result of almost 12 months of fundraising efforts by local people. This will be the first time that the Ribble Valley has had a locally dedicated radio service.
The station is sponsored by many local businesses including the new local commercial radio station for the area, 107 The Bee, who are providing hourly news bulletins.
Last year, the local paper, the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times ran a feature on Community Radio, written by local man Steve Suttie. The response to this article inspired many local people to come forward and volunteer their time and effort in taking the idea forward. The past twelve months has seen a growing army of volunteers who are now desperate to finally hit the airwaves.
?Its been a terrific year,? says Steve, Chairman of the group, ?we?ve hit our targets on the fundraising side, and the project has gradually developed an unstoppable amount of momentum. I?m delighted that we have achieved so much, and look forward to seeing all of our members finally trying their hand at producing and presenting truly local radio programmes, with the benefit of the community at heart.?
Community Radio is a new third tier of broadcasting medium, it is not designed to operate for profit, but in genuine interest of the local community. Steve believes that the Ribble Valley is a perfect place to benefit from this new type of radio.
?We have 54,000 people here in Ribble Valley, spread out over 250 square miles. If you consider that only 17,000 of these people live in Clitheroe ? it brings into context just how many people are living in the Valley in dispersed rural communities.?
The work involved in starting up the radio station has been non-stop since January this year. Fundraising events have seen the Ribble Valley Radio volunteers marching along the Ribble Way on a three day, 72 mile sponsored walk. There?s also been quiz nights, a comedy night at St Mary?s, street collections and raffles. Funding has also been secured from Mr John Lancaster, Clitheroe the Future, Ribble Valley Strategic Partnership and the National Lottery.
?It has been a big challenge to raise the money, but we have had a great deal of fun in the process,? adds Steve. ?I have received an amazing amount of positive feedback from the residents of the Ribble Valley who have seen the potential in this idea, put their hands in their pockets and wished us good luck. It?s thanks to this ardent local support that we are ready to go live on Sunday.?
The volunteers have been involved in training sessions, fundraising and even building the Radio Stations studios in St Marys. Two volunteers in particular, Mr Barry Townson and Mr Paul Johnson have worked incredibly hard in getting the studios ready on time. ?Its amazing to think that people have been prepared to work all week and then sacrifice their entire weekend in order to work on the building of the studios. Paj and Barry have been committed to the work, and it?s thanks to their dedication that they are built on time and we are now ready to broadcast.?
Ribble Valley Radio aims to offer opportunities to anybody who is interested in getting involved in local radio, at the same time as promoting and benefiting local organisations and societies.
The station is broadcasting on 87.9FM until Christmas Eve.