It’s been an interesting day. It started with the NUJ’s General Secretary, Jeremy Dear, speaking on BBC Radio Nottingham* about the plans to merge Local Radio with Five Live. By mid morning we’d had emails from the controllers of Local Radio and Five Live insisting it was “just an idea” and by the end of the day most people had concluded that this was just a ploy to soften the blow for the possible sharing of programmes across regions.
Nevertheless, it was good to see the Media Trust stepping up to the mark to pledge its support for Local Radio. Not least because it demonstrates the wider role of local stations within their communities.
I’ll declare an interest here. For the past couple of years I’ve worked in a voluntary capacity as a mentor with the Trust. It involves working with existing projects, helping young disadvantaged kids learn broadcasting skills. But this is more than just playing at being a DJ. It’s a valuable addition to the voluntary sector – you know, the one that’s having loads of its funding cut right now.
Without projects like YMCA Digital young people in some of the poorest areas of the country would miss out on the chance to develop their communication skills and have some fun whilst they’re doing it. This is real grass roots stuff – at the heart of local communities.
When I took my first session, with a small group of teenagers in inner city Nottingham, they didn’t seem to fussed about participating. I was trying to get across the notion that everyone has a story to tell. And although they might not think it’s interesting, the chances are that other people will. These kids were intelligent enough, but most had dropped out of school and many had ended up on the wrong side of the system. It wasn’t an amazing transformation, but by the end of the first session I’d got them interviewing each other, exploring different ways of telling their story – and making them realise that radio’s not just about pumping out the music.
Who said Local Radio was just for old people?
* This audio will only be online for 6 days after the date of this post