Local community radio and its ‘overwhelmingly positive’ impact on society

Local community radio has an ‘overwhelmingly positive’ impact on health, employment, and community cohesion according to the latest research carried out by the University of Northampton.

In a survey of 5,710 local community radio listeners from nearly 20 local community stations across the UK: 71% said their health had improved as a direct result of hearing about health services on their local community radio, 67% said they had gained employment or skills because of something they had heard on the radio, and 53% agreed, or strongly agreed with the statement ‘Listening to local radio has made me understand the perspectives of other people better than I did before.’

Comments in the focus groups confirmed this, with participants agreeing they would trust content heard on local community radio, and sometimes trust it more than that heard on national radio.

One participant commented: “If I hear something on a local radio station it relates to me because I think yes, I know them, I know where they are, so the information that I am given I tend to believe.”

The study entitled ‘Listening Locally Across the UK’ was carried out by Dr Alison Hulme, UON’s Associate Professor in Social and Cultural Change and supported by Martin Steers, Station Manager at NLive Radio and Director of the UK Community Radio Network, both of which are calling for greater funding and support for community radio.

Dr Hulme said: “These findings back up previous studies which show listening to local radio has an overwhelming positive impact on everyday lives.

“Listeners understand their communities better and take part in community activities more frequently, they are more able to cope with stress and more likely to take advantage of help available to them.

“Local community radio is a trusted platform and I hope this kind of evidence will influence policy makers when they see how it can be leveraged to drive up employment and increase the impact of services available through charities, support groups and local councils.”

Martin Steers added: “Those like me who are passionate about community radio already know the strong sense of community we build in our listeners, there is enormous social capital ready to be unlocked and drive us towards the happy and cohesive communities that people want to enjoy.”

Funding for this research was provided by Ofcom’s Community Radio Fund and followed a pilot study entitled ‘Listening Locally’ which was funded the previous year by a UON Business Ideas and Innovation Grant (BIIG) which pairs academics with local business partners.

This research is the national roll-out of the pilot project which was limited to NLive/Northampton.