July 19, 2024

Local radio station’s revival helping to connect communities and showcase Wrexham on national stage

News from Wales

Calon FM’s relaunch in October 2021, after a period of uncertainty for the Wrexham-based community…

The post Local radio station’s revival helping to connect communities and showcase Wrexham on national stage appeared first on News from Wales.

Calon FM’s relaunch in October 2021, after a period of uncertainty for the Wrexham-based community radio station, has provided a pertinent reminder of the power of local radio and its importance to local communities, culminating in its key role promoting Wrexham’s City of Culture 2025 bid.

It was a bid that ultimately proved unsuccessful, with the city of Bradford announced as the winner in May 2022. However, for a relatively small Welsh community that came late to the bid and was only given city status just a few days prior to the result, it was an incredible achievement to reach the final four contenders.

Calon FM, which is now operating under the ownership of a community interest company, ‘Wrexham Community Broadcasting’ from its new home at the Wrexham Enterprise Hub in the town centre, acted as a central ‘connector’ during the bid.

According to the radio station’s co-managers, Arran Hodges and Allan Longshadow (the only paid staff members at Calon FM for a team of 42), their role was two-fold: communicate to the community what ‘City of Culture’ would mean to Wrexham, and to showcase what the community has to offer.

Mr Longshadow, said: “We worked with the various stakeholders, including the local council’s ‘City of Culture’ team, the Wrexham African Community, the Portuguese Language Speaking Community, and a range of other local community groups to ensure that they were part of the story.”

Football plays a big part in Wrexham’s culture and is the home of Welsh football. It’s no surprise then that football was a key part of the bid.

Calon FM was at the heart of this aspect of the bid, helping to promote and provide the commentary to the festival of football matches between local, socially-inclusive football teams, volunteer groups and public service workers. Matches that saw teams established to give football opportunities to those from socially disadvantaged groups – play Wrexham Town Police FC, who were formed with the aim to help break down barriers between the police and the community.

One of the matches was played during of strict Covid-19 restrictions, so broadcasting the match helped reach members of the local community who were not allowed to attend.

“It was a brilliant example of how football and inclusion work in tandem in Wrexham”, added Mr Longshadow.

The station has gone on to support the bid for City of Culture 2029.

The station re-established itself as a community interest company in response to feedback received from Wrexham residents. Serving the community underpins Calon FM’s mission, meaning that they put the community at the heart of everything they do.

Re-establishing themselves during the pandemic has provided Wrexham with a valuable resource, with the radio station able to signpost listeners to local government agencies and community help groups.

Mr Hodges, said: “Although the pandemic brought challenges, it also brought opportunities to demonstrate how important local radio is to the community and how it can help bring communities together, especially when communities cannot physically come together.

“We’ve created a weekly in-depth discussion programme called ‘The Wrexham Roundup’, that explores the most important community issues of that week. It’s an opportunity for local stakeholders and members of the public to engage in that conversation, be it cost-of-living or the state of local healthcare services.”

They have also formed a strong working relationship with AVOW (Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham). AVOW works with charities, voluntary and community groups, social enterprises, trustees, and individual volunteers. Calon FM champion some of the organisations under their umbrella.

A key feature of their 24/7 operation is having the appropriate technical equipment for staff to be able to work from home if travel is an issue (i.e., because of a disability, health condition or cost). The limited Government grants they do receive have allowed them to develop training remotely – benefitting their volunteer staff, and ultimately, the rural community they serve.

Despite the precarious state of local radio in Wales, with only the BBC and a small number of regional services available, the demand for local news and information is high post-pandemic, and community radio stations like Calon FM are providing that invaluable service.

Calon FM is a member of the Welsh Community Radio Network (WCRN) – community radio stations that provide a voice for hundreds of local communities across the Wales. Listen to Calon FM on 105 FM, smart speakers, TuneIn app or Calon.fm