Biggest round so far for the Audio Content Fund

The Audio Content Fund has announced the latest recipients of grant funding to make public service content for commercial and community radio, with its biggest single funding round.

The new funded projects will broadcast across 84 different radio stations, and will be produced by 15 different independent production companies.

The fund, which is financed by the UK Government, has allocated £397k to the projects, which it estimates will be heard by more than five million listeners.

This funding round is the first to benefit from an additional £400k contribution to the ACF from DCMS, which was announced by Minister of State John Whittingdale MP last week. The new funds replace money that was brought forward by the ACF to support audiences during the first national lockdown, and have enabled the ACF to restore its ambition for the 2020-21 financial year.

The funded projects include more drama than any previous funding round, including the first community radio soap opera. Greenborne, a soap opera set in the near future, will be produced by B7 Productions and broadcast on a network of more than 20 local stations.

Three-part drama Props (produced by Exeter Phoenix) will focus on the stories of three carers living isolated lives before Covid in order to support their loved ones, while Sharewoods (from Naked Productions) will be a new five-part drama written by five emerging Deaf and disabled writers about one chaotic night in a furniture store. Childrens’ drama also features in this round, with 15-part environmental epic King Frank and the Knights of the Eco-Quest being made by Soundscape Radio Productions for Fun Kids.

Documentary content continues to be well represented this round, with five more factual projects commissioned. The CommunicorpUK network of stations will broadcast more than 100 short features called 21 for 21 focusing on the success of local athletes in the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games, made by indie Anything But Footy.

TBI Media will tell the story of legendary Scottish music venues in If Walls Could Talk for the Hits and Greatest Hits networks in Scotland, and Storythings Ltd will look at the history and cultural impact of drag, in Drag Week for Gaydio.

The spirit of the Charles Parker radio ballads will be channelled by Upperhurst in Still Alive, exploring the apparently lost crafts and makers of Yorkshire, and the SWSW Network will explore African ancestry for International Women’s Month in Afrikan Queens, both for a network of community stations.

Support and wellbeing content feature in this round, with the launch of KISS LIFE on KISS and KISS Fresh, produced by The Playmaker Group. The new Sunday-night talk show will tackle issues for a young audience, with short features also included throughout the week in daytime.

Fix Radio will introduce a series of mental health features titled Ruck It! Let’s Talk, hosted by former England rugby internationals Kyran Bracken and Nick Easter produced by Listening Dog Media.

Folded Wing will develop an experimental new series called BARS for National Prison Radio and Reprezent Radio, providing an outlet for prisoners to express and vent their frustrations through music therapy.

Somethin’ Else will explore interracial relationships in a series of content to be broadcast on Magic Radio this Valentine’s Day, in Our Love. And Loftus Media will deliver a new comedy to Jazz FM, with Marcus Brigstocke’s Cabinet of Jazz, inspired by Dizzy Gillespie’s 1964 run for the US Presidency.

Finally, Wild Rumpus CIC will transport listeners into nature around the country as part of 2020’s International Day of Forests, inviting listeners across the country to record the sounds of Your Forest and help create an audio map of the UK’s woodlands.

All these projects will be produced and broadcast within the next 12 months.

These latest awards take the Audio Content Fund’s running total of grant funding to £1.65m since it started in April 2019, with a further £400k due to be allocated in its next funding round which opens on Dec 7th .

Mukti Jain Campion, member of the Audio Content Fund’s independent funding panel, said: “This was the strongest round so far with a very high standard of pitches. Indies seem to have really found their groove in working with commercial and community radio stations to add value for audiences with ACF funded projects. I am particularly delighted the ACF is able to support such a variety of genres this time and a greater diversity in stories and production teams. More please!”

Sam Bailey, Managing Director of the Audio Content Fund, said: “It’s so satisfying to be able to award grants to so many high-quality projects from this funding round. The additional funds from DCMS have made it possible to support our biggest slate of projects so far – I think the panel would’ve found it very difficult to choose between them if it weren’t for that additional support.”