Community radio is coming back to the airwaves in Lancaster and Morecambe.
Beyond Radio will launch on Saturday, July 30 broadcasting from a new station in Lancaster on 103.5FM.
Many of the team involved in Diversity FM, the Lancaster community radio station which closed in 2012, will be involved with Beyond.
This group of volunteers and radio professionals have been working for four years to bring community radio back to the district.
Beyond Radio, which does not have any paid employees, has a five year licence and will operate 24 hours a day seven days a week airing live from breakfast time to late evening.
A spokesman for Beyond said the station, based in the old bowling pavilion in Palatine Park in Bowerham, would deliver “a radio service that both enhances and delivers an alternative to what is already available” with “a mix of programming with something to suit all tastes with a focus on local and specialist music and local presenters”.
The station also plans to offer feature programmes covering local history, environment, social commentary, comedy, poetry, sport, drama, documentary, politics and more.
To prepare for the launch, the station has been broadcasting a music service on the internet for the last couple of years from the unlikely setting of a cellar.
Duncan Moore and Chris Brookbanks, both former Diversity team members, have hosted their ‘Boys in the Basement’ show on the internet from a temporary studio in technician Chris’ house.
Mr Moore, chief executive of PCM (Lancaster) Ltd, the company managing the project, said: “The last four years have been an interesting time for us.
“When Diversity FM closed we got so many letters and emails of support and people asking if there would ever be another community station.
“We knew we had to try and develop one and I’m glad to say we’ve made it. The official launch of the station on July 30 represents four years of dedicated work by the management team.
“Opening a radio station isn’t as simple as you might think. Opening a community radio station, because of the community benefit there needs to be as part of the licence award, is even harder. Funding ourselves also offers a continuing challenge.”
Beyond Radio will also support other charity and community groups in the district by offering them the opportunity to come in and promote the work they do on air.
Mr Moore said. ”This is an important part of what we do.
“There are a great many organisations in our area doing some brilliant work with people from all corners of our community who need help. We want to give them the chance to reach even more and also let other people know just what it is they do.
“From this publicity they may get extra financial or volunteer support that they probably need. I’m really looking forward to meeting and working with our partners in the charity and community sector and hopefully helping to change peoples’ lives for the better.
“In the four years we’ve been working to get the station up and running our publicity strapline was ‘Join us for the Journey.’ I am really pleased many people have joined us so far. In a way, on July 30, the journey will really begin.”
Community radio stations differ from commercial radio stations, like The Bay, because they are run by volunteers and are non-profit organisations. They also offer content not necessarily provided by commercial radio.
As a fully voluntary project, Beyond Radio wants to hear from local people who are interested in getting involved.
Jayne Drake, another former employee of Diversity FM and who supports Beyond Radio’s volunteer engagement programme, said: “We can’t run the station without volunteers, they are our presenters, duty managers, producers and administrators.
“We offer local people the opportunity to get hands on with a fully operating FM radio station, something that few people ever get the chance to try. Following training and induction we support volunteers as they work together to deliver the radio service. In this way the project lives up to its aims of being a ‘community’ station.”
Anyone with an interest in volunteering, either with or without any relevant experience, can visit www.beyondradio.co.uk and fill out the online registration form.
Anyone who doesn’t have access to a computer can request a copy to be sent in the post by calling 0744 944 5001.
Financially, the station is supported by selling advertising and sponsorship packages to local businesses and through its Team 200 initiative.
Team 200 is a group of local people who have committed to donate a small amount each month in order to help the station achieve its community aims.
Anyone interested in advertising or sponsorship can call 01524 884 244.
If you would like to support the station with a donation you can visit the Team 200 page on the Beyond Radio website to find out more.
The Beyond Radio management team thanked the many people who have helped get the station to launch day, from the volunteers who have been busy helping prepare the studio and office space, to Lancaster City Council who have been very supportive and many more.
Beyond Radio will officially launch on 103.5FM on Saturday, July 30 at 10.35am.