Wigan and St Helens Community Media CIC is inviting your support and comments on its plans to host and support up to 24 new digital radio stations for Wigan and St Helens.
Wigan and St Helens Community Media CIC is a new, not-for-profit Community Interest Company led by resident social enterprise leaders of Arts At The Mill CIC (known locally as The Old Courts) and backed by local and community radio services.
The group are proposing to operate the Wigan Small-Scale (SSDAB) multiplex for community benefit – to reinvest into the management of the SSDAB multiplex and into supporting the development of local and community radio in our area, and therefore increase the amount of volunteering, skills, and social impact opportunities available for people in Wigan and St Helens.
For many years, it has been difficult for community and grassroots groups to get onto radio because of the high cost and scarce availability of FM frequencies. Many broadcasters have instead turned to internet-only community radio services which are thriving but represent only a small percentage of total radio listeners. Small-Scale DAB represents a more affordable opportunity for broadcasters to reach a high percentage of the population across Wigan and St Helens.
“We are proposing to bring the UK’s most listened to platform into our area and manage it in a way that encourages more local people to create and listen to locally-led content. We are excited as the development of more local and community radio means more jobs, volunteering and creative opportunities for residents and more audiences for local artists, creatives, businesses, and non-profits. Making digital radio more accessible for all is important, and doing it in a way where all profits are reinvested into the local area means that broadcasters and listeners Wigan and St Helens will benefit long-term”
– Jess Rotherham, Head of Development at Arts At The Mill CIC (The Old Courts)
This type of licence is awarded in a competitive process, in which applications are judged against specific statutory criteria. Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, is now inviting comments on the applications they have received for the Wigan area. The group are asking for local people to send their comments directly to smallscaleDAB@ofcom.org.uk or to join a letter of support. The closing date for comments is Friday 22 October 2021.
The approach to supporting local has been met with praise from people and organisations who already run internet-only stations and want to expand onto DAB, or who are keen to start something new in their local area:
“Wigan & St Helens have never had a truly community-based radio station and we at Countywide Radio now have the opportunity, with SSDAB to do exactly that. Thanks for this goes to the team behind this and The Old Courts, whose drive and enthusiasm matches our own. We will be able to offer entertainment, information and education in a massive way, that internet radio could never provide.”
– Anthony Rhodes, Countywide Radio (otherwise known as Wigan FM).
Alan and Terry, Countywide Radio (otherwise known as Wigan FM). Credit: SS Photography
“Local area DAB is a brilliant concept that will allow community driven stations such as RadioM29 to reach much deeper into our community allowing far more engagement than our existing platform. It will bring us the ability to help and support many more listeners who may benefit from the interaction and social engagement we offer”
Photo credit: RadioM29
“Bamalam are delighted to see the hard work the team at The Old Courts is putting in is paying off and leaning into Radio. Often the overlooked medium of the arts, when in actual fact it is the most powerful, through just words we paint a picture in the minds of our listeners and often, radio is switched on when no one else is around to listen or talk to. Now with the brand new SSDAB coming to the community, we have a chance to engage with people across the borough in a whole new way”
– James, Bamalam CIC
Jo Dakin, Sam Thompson and Chris Jack recording with Bamalam Productions
In their proposal, the group outline what Small-Scale DAB is, the communities that stand to benefit, how they propose to establish the service and their ability to do so. Comments and feedback are invited to support the application for a licence to Ofcom, the communications regulator.