Four new community stations awarded by Ofcom

Ofcom has today announced the award of four new community radio licences in England, Scotland and Wales.

The new stations will serve communities in Shaftesbury, Dorset in England; Shotts in Lanarkshire, Scotland; Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales; and Towyn, Conwy, in North Wales.

Alfred will provide a service for the community of Shaftesbury and the surrounding rural area, and has been set up by Radio Scilly founder, and former Town and Country Broadcasting Director Keri Jones.

Listen Lanarkshire will work with local partners including schools, youth groups and sports clubs to provide a service for the ex-mining communities of Shotts and surrounding villages.

Merthyr Radio will focus on life in the Merthyr area and will work with local businesses. It will provide an inclusive local radio service for people in the Merthyr Tydfil County Borough area.

And Sound Radio will run a locally-focussed service which will include some Welsh language programmes. It is for the communities of Kinmel Bay & Towyn, Abergele, Rhyl and surrounding towns and villages in the Vale of Clwyd.

Speaking to RadioToday, Keri Jones explains more about how Alfred will sound different to any other radio station in the area: “We’re delighted that Ofcom has shown faith in our plans to operate a game-changing local, speech-based service with programming centered on a daily 30-minute Shaftesbury news magazine.

“We’ve enjoyed a high level of community engagement with our daily local news podcast over the last 18 months. We’re convinced that Alfred can best serve the 15,000 people in our small Dorset town and villages as a service of Shaftesbury information, features and stories. Especially since our locally-based newspaper, a monthly title, folded last month.

“All of our unique content will be available on-demand and as podcasts. We will be able to broadcast live, but we’re not basing our plans around traditional linear broadcast models. A tiny community radio station will never have the resources to effectively compete with exceptional programming of Wave 105, Radio 2 and Global services. We hope to show that there’s another way to provide relevant local radio without soul-less voice-tracking, ‘hits and headlines’ or ‘late-night love songs.’

“Alfred the Great founded our town in 888. Alfred hopes to make radio in Shaftesbury great again.”

In addition to the licence awards above, Ofcom considered two further applications, but decided not to award a licence to Pulse Radio in Rhyl and Prestatyn, Denbighshire and Voice of the Community in St Asaph, Denbighshire.

And Ofcom decided not to consider applications from Phase Radio (Wales), Prestatyn, Meliden, Rhuddlan and Rhyl, Denbighshire, and ME2U Community Radio, Croydon, for unknown reasons.