Shortly before Christmas 2014 I paid a visit to the studios of Swindon 105.5 community radio for a couple of reasons.
One was to talk to Shirley Ludford, the station manager, about the money-raising initiative the station was running in December.
It was my delight kick the initiative off on the 1st of December with a chat over the phone about my own business, AA Editorial Services. I also had a few minutes on the actual radio talking about this here blog.
Aside from those two bits of excitement I certainly learnt quite a lot. Prior to this visit my perception of local radio was of stations whose programming is peppered with advertising for and by local companies and services. And I’d assumed Swindon 105.5 to be the same.
I confess I hadn’t listened to it – but then I don’t listen to anything very much. I’m not one of these people that can work with noise in the background. If I’m doing anything requiring any concentration then silence is golden as far I’m concerned. But now, having met Shirley at the station and having done a bit of research on community radio as opposed to local radio, I’m somewhat enlightened.
What is community radio?
Ofcomdefines community radio as being radio stations that typically cover a small geographic area. They must be run on a not-for-profit basis. The idea for this form of broadcasting was conceived and piloted in 2002 by the then Radio Authority. In 2004, the Radio Authority’s successor, Ofcom issued a consultation on the creation of Community Radio.
Supporting itself – and others
While some community stations can carry advertising and sponsorship a small number – where they overlap with small commercial services – may not. And Swindon 105.5 comes into that group. As they say on their website: ‘SWINDON 105.5 is one of only 18 Station in the UK NOT permitted to support itself in any way commercially on air.
The Station Manager successfully invited Minister Ed Vaizey to visit the Station in December 2012 and in July 2014. Then, with support from MP Robert Buckland she went to the House of Commons to put the case for a relaxing of the regulations for this Station and the other 17 to ensure more fairness.’
Furthermore ‘SWINDON 105.5 is a non-commercial radio service in Swindon, by Swindon, for Swindon. Licensed by OFCOM as a Not For Profit community broadcasting organisation, with a specific brief and funded by grants, donations, corporate support, fund-raising events and support in-kind.
105.5the only locally-based station that’s broadcasting 24 hours a day. And they take no sustaining external service, unlike all other radio services in the region.
Now while I had no real understanding of Swindon 105.5’s status I was vaguely aware, though ignorant of specifics, of the community activities of the station. And, as this blog is all about celebrating the positives of the Swindon community here we have this post. ‘Cos surely this radio station is a positive for Swindon?
An award winning station
Between them, Shirley Ludford, the station manager, trainer and fund-raiser, and her team have reaped a cornucopia of well-deserved accolades and awards. Both for themselves and the station.
But two particular highlights of 2014 were: 1. The award to Shirley of the High Sheriff’s award for long service to the community. 2. And a visit to the station from HRH the Duke of Kent – 1st cousin to The Queen.
The station prides itself on giving a completely accessible and inclusive service to the town. All the while providing training and volunteering opportunities.
And that’s Shirley something to celebrate? What say you? 🙂 😉
I’ve given mention before to the amazing resource and service that is the Swindon Collection in ‘Digital archives R us’. But I figured it was time to give another, more detailed ‘shout out’ about them.
The Swindon Collection:The Swindon Collection of local studies and family history material can be found on the second floor of the Central Library. Staff will be happy to help you begin your search. Additionally, one Monday a month, an archivist from the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre will be available to advise researchers. Please check with Swindon collection staff for future dates.
“In collaboration with the people of Swindon and local history enthusiasts, Swindon Central Library has produced a substantial online library of historical photographs – on the Internet photograph repository, Flickr.
The Swindon Collection Photostream is an ongoing project to publish the history of the Borough of Swindon in photographs.
The collection already includes many thousands of fascinating images – drawn from the library’s collection, the private collections of local residents and enthusiasts, and historical material from Swindon’s commercial institutions of the past and present.”
There are links to various areas of this photostream scattered throughout this blog. It truly is an amazing resource and important record of every aspect of Swindon’s history – something that Swindon should be very proud of.
Just some of the other resources that the Swindon collection can offer are:
Complete GRO index of Births, Marriages & Deaths, for the whole of England and Wales (1837-1999).
GRO Overseas index.
International Genealogical Index (The LDS or Mormon Index).
Census records (1841-1901) with surname and street indexes where available.
Parish registers, bishops transcripts and surname transcriptions where available (from 1538).
Free access to Find My Past Community Edition.
All available parish magazines, newsletters and journals, including staff magazines for the Great Western Railway, Wills Tobacco, Garrards and Vickers.
‘Swindon Viewpoint is Britain’s original and longest-running Community TV service. And as such it holds a special place in Britain’s media story.
44 years ago we began life on cable. But nowadays you can find us online at www.swindonviewpoint.com. There you’ll discover thousands of locally-produced videos and photographs on wide-ranging topics. For example: Music, Visual Arts, Social Action, Politics, Sports, Festivals & Community Events, Education, Health, Public Service Broadcast, Drama, Documentary and Independent/Creative Film. We may be long-lived, but we’ve always been progressive, and as we develop the service, we hope to be introducing new kinds of media.’
Original and long-standing
I’m intrigued to learn that Swindon Viewpoint is Britain’s original and longest standing community television service. It began recording programmes in 1973. Moreover, the oldest film on Swindon was made almost a century ago. How cool is that?
Hearing about this service underlines the whole point I am trying to make about Swindon via this blog: that there is so much more to it than meets the eye and that it can always surprise one as this has surprised and me.
Swindon Viewpoint belongs to YOU in case you didn’t know. Or if you simply want to support free, accessible and accountable local media. The service is free, accessible and accountable to you, the people of Swindon.