July 21, 2024

Community radio station flying the flag for the Welsh language and providing democratic accountability for people of North-West Wales

News from Wales

MônFM, a bilingual community radio station that serves North-West Wales, is promoting the Welsh language…

The post Community radio station flying the flag for the Welsh language and providing democratic accountability for people of North-West Wales appeared first on News from Wales.

MônFM, a bilingual community radio station that serves North-West Wales, is promoting the Welsh language with the help of local organisations and holding local politicians to account to help push the issue up the agenda for its proud Welsh-speaking population.

There’s a real demand for localism among the communities of North-West Wales that has only been exacerbated in the post-pandemic era. MônFM is offering that hyper-local service, with updates on local issues that other radio tends to steer clear of, while also providing democratic accountability through regular interviews with local council and Senedd politicians.

Tony Wyn Jones, who is MônFM’s Chair and the Welsh Community Radio Network (WCRN) Cymru Chair, said: “At least fifty percent of our programming is done in the Welsh language. Our listeners are the locals who may not have a big interest in international events, but often are more interested in what is happening within their square mile.

“These sorts of people are often not heard, seen or given enough prominence, but community radio stations like MônFM do give them a voice and a platform within our programming. It’s important for people to hear colloquial or ‘street’ Welsh that they use on a daily basis.

“In January 2023, we interviewed Councillor Ieuan Williams, Education and Welsh language portfolio holder – who has lead responsibility for the Welsh language within the Isle of Anglesey County Council – and Jeremy Miles MS, the Welsh Government Minister responsible for the Welsh language, about the work we already do and how we can help promote the Welsh Language within our community. We’re providing content that differs to larger broadcasters as we have a real understanding of what the local community want to hear.”

The community radio station, staffed by a team of volunteers led by a dedicated committee, broadcasts from studios in Llangefni town centre. It creates around 80 hours a week of content, covering locally oriented music, sport, news and current affairs programming in both, English and Welsh.

They’re able to help local residents with their Welsh language skills, through on-air learning initiatives like ‘Word of the Week’ and partnerships with groups like Menter Iaith Môn, a community-based organisation which works to raise the profile of the Welsh language locally and across Wales. MônFM publicise the organisation’s projects who regularly appear on the station to talk about the Welsh language and local festivals and projects they run.

Despite the station’s focus on hyper-local news and activities, they understand that their Welsh-speaking audience do not only reside in Wales, but also live in other parts of the world.

“We provide that vital Welsh language service for people who have emigrated to the likes of Australia or the US, or Welsh speakers who are studying elsewhere, or those who do not come into daily contact with other Welsh speakers. This is incredibly important, because the Welsh language is part of our culture and identity in North-West Wales, and so our international audiences rely on us to provide that service”, Mr Tony Jones added.

Welsh language is the thread that runs through many of the community radio station’s programmes. For example, its political and public service bulletins – which have been operating since the Covid-19 pandemic and provide the most relevant and up to date updates – are nearly all bilingual. The regular ‘Job slots’ segment are in English, but MônFM volunteers use it as an opportunity to practice Welsh through following previous work with Nant Gwrtheyrn – a centre that specialises in Welsh for adults and offers intensive residential courses.

The station has provided a brilliant grounding for local volunteers wanting to pursue a career in radio. Being a bilingual station has meant that they were able to give two of their former volunteers the skills and experience to gain full-time paid roles in the Welsh radio industry, with one going on to become an engineer for Capital Cymru, and the other as a journalist for BBC Radio Cymru.

It’s not only MônFM’s programming that offers 50/50 bilingual content, but also the advertisements it broadcasts – due to the terms of its Ofcom licence – which had helped to maximise essential revenue streams, together with local grants, helps to keep the station going.

MônFM is showing the power of community radio as a means of effective communication by engaging with hard-to-reach rural communities and older residents on important local issues such as Welsh identity and language, while still providing a wide-breadth of programming that is both informative and engaging for anyone of any age.

That’s a rather unique offering that the Welsh Government and Public Services are starting to recognise and will hopefully utilise more as time goes on. Much more needs to be done to help MônFM and other community stations in Wales to sustain themselves, especially when it comes to Welsh and UK government support.

MônFM are members of the Welsh Community Radio Network (WCRN) – community radio stations that provide a voice for hundreds of local communities across Wales. Listen to MônFM on 96.8, 102.1 and 102.5 FM, smart speakers, MônFM app or monfm.co.uk