Welcome to OUTREACH RADIO – Your truly local radio station.
PART 1 – OUR FM BEGINNINGS
Broadcasting for nearly six months as Lockdown 100.7 FM, under a temporary FM broadcast licence granted by OfCom to radio stations supporting local communities during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Managed and operated by local volunteers, it became very clear during our time on-air as Lockdown FM that this service was not only incredibly well received by listeners across Chandler’s Ford, Eastleigh, North Baddesley, Romsey and surrounding areas, but that the support we were able offer to these communities was also greatly valued.
Following the expiration of our original temporary FM licence on the 5th September 2020, we re-branded to OUTREACH RADIO, and broadcasts continued online only, via this website.
PART 2 – OUR JOURNEY TO DAB DIGITAL RADIO
On the 1st October 2020, OfCom granted our permanent DAB Digital Radio licence, allowing us to broadcast across South Hampshire, the South Coast and the Isle of Wight – a coverage area reaching 1.4 million people.
Our new DAB service began six weeks later, on the 14th November 2020 – six weeks ahead of schedule! Our early launch date was made possible by amazing efforts from OfCom and our Winchester-based transmission services provider, Arqiva. This rapid turnaround allowed us to continue to support local communities by providing our service across a much wider area in the midst of the second Coronavirus lockdown.
One of the key issues we faced when broadcasting on FM was our signal coverage into larger urban areas or outskirt rural areas, due to the domestic location and low-power nature of our temporary FM transmitter. Many listeners asked to hear us across a much wider area, so they could continue listening in their cars, on their way to work, or in their offices, including areas such as Winchester, Southampton & Portsmouth.
By transitioning to DAB Digital Radio via seven radio transmitters located across South Hampshire, we have also ensured compatibility with both DAB and DAB+ receivers. Whilst this is the highest cost aspect of our operation, we are very pleased to have been able to meet the needs of our listeners by achieving this level of coverage and reach.
PART 3 – THE RETURN OF FM
No sooner than our broadcasts began on DAB, and due to the second nationwide Coronavirus lockdown, OfCom rapidly approved our next temporary FM licence, taking us through to August 2021. This has allowed us to immediately re-connect with our local FM listeners in advance of the Christmas period, and continue to provide support and entertainment an extended period.
Broadcasts recommenced on the 18th November across Chandler’s Ford, Eastleigh, North Baddesley, Romsey and surrounding areas as OUTREACH RADIO, on 100.7 FM.
By re-engaging with our original Lockdown FM listeners, we were once again able to provide a local service of community support, as well as the opportunity to advise our listeners of our new, permanent home on DAB Digital Radio.
EPILOGUE – OUR COMPANY, INDUSTRY, ETHOS & VALUES
In many ways, there is a very controversial aspect to the existence of OUTREACH RADIO, particular through the eyes of the privately owned commercial radio industry. We are not ashamed to admit this, nor are we afraid to admit that we are knowingly a disruptor to the status quo, since this is is all in the name of community and social benefit.
We are built on strong community and business ethics, and are established as a not-for-profit Community of Interest Company – OUTREACH COMMUNITY RADIO C.I.C. This ensures that OUTREACH RADIO remains in the hands of the community, and is a very different approach to shareholder-led corporations owned by media moguls.
We have no shareholders, (or share allocations), and our Board of Directors is appointed from across our local area in order to ensure that decisions taken by the radio station are in the genuine interests of our communities. This seemingly simple aspect protects OUTREACH RADIO from corporate takeover or consolidation, as we have sadly seen occur with many other local radio stations over the years.
Many former independent local radio stations have been taken over by major media groups, re-branded, and now operate as pseudo-national services operating from centralised locations in other other parts of the country. In many of these cases, the presenter-led shows are the same programmes heard nationwide, even though local jingles, etc, can be heard depending on location, giving a false sense of being a local service. You can check this fact out by simply tuning through the band until you hear the same programme/songs, then wait for the jingles & ads.
In order to meet basic OfCom local radio licence obligations, a bare minimum of local news and traffic spots are broadcast by these commercial broadcasters, but the centralised approach has had an impact on the deeper service provided, and the local benefit and affinity between listeners and the radio station itself. In our opinion, many of these radio stations sadly no longer represent the voice of the communities or local areas that their original licences were designed to serve.
It has been viewed that small-scale Community Radio stations can “plug” this localised gap, and whilst this is true to a point – particularly for community of interest stations as opposed to geographic community radio stations – due to licence conditions, coverage area and revenue potential, many of these radio stations are constrained, and find it difficult to obtain or fund the level of resources required to provide a high-quality local service.
OUTREACH RADIO was consciously formed as a hybrid of community and commercial radio, designed to serve the specific geographic area of South Hampshire, the South Coast and the Isle of Wight, with the rights to generate uncapped revenue, and with the values, ethics and policies of a community business. Our company constitution officially states, “The Company is not established or conducted for private gain: any surplus or assets are used principally for the benefit of the community.”- meaning all profits go back into enhancing OUTREACH RADIO or other community projects. Operating as a service of this nature allows us to carry advertising, sponsorship and promotions, which our temporary FM licence conditions did not allow. Listeners to our DAB and temporary FM services may notice different messaging at the top of each hour, with DAB carrying commercial advertising, and FM carrying community/charity support messages only, in order to adhere to our licence conditions.
Commercial DAB advertising allows us the potential to financially stand on our own feet as a local business, whilst supporting listeners, local businesses, charities, schools, religious groups, events and activities across our coverage area. When we say that we are “Your truly local radio service”, we really mean it!
If you are a member of our local area that would like to help or support OUTREACH RADIO, please do not hesitate to contact us. We’d love to hear from you, and hope you enjoy listening to OUTREACH RADIO.
Outreach: an effort to bring services or information to people where they live or spend time (Cambridge English Dictionary)
Outreach is the activity of providing services to any population that might not otherwise have access to those services. (Wikipedia)
Outreach is often meant to fill in the gap in the services provided by mainstream (often governmental) services, and is often carried out by non-profit, nongovernmental organisations. (Wikipedia)