How North Kent radio is back from the ashes
09:00 22 August 2012
The nails in the coffin of local radio have steadily been hammered in over the last decade with large groups monopolising the radio world.
In April 2009, 106.8 Time FM ceased transmission after almost 30 years of serving Dartford, Gravesend, Greenwich and Bexley.
But from a small room in North West Kent College a group of media fans and students are trying to bring local radio back.
Since April, Miskin Radio has been broadcasting online and in July it received a FM frequency to provide local coverage of the Olympics.
The station is the brainchild of Andrew Sayers, a media lecturer at the college who worked at Time FM, then RTM Radio, in its earliest days.
For Andrew, local radio is not dead.
“It can survive if it’s good. If we are talking about things people are really interested in, then people will listen. Things are so centralised now – if you look at London, eight out of 11 stations are owned by one company and there isn’t a local service,” he said.
“I have been working on bringing in a local radio station for the last two years and working at the college enabled it. The idea is for it to be a local BBC Radio 2.”
Miskin is run by students on the college’s media course and radio professionals, along with 14 or so volunteers from the north Kent area who have an interest in radio and wanted to get on the airwaves.
Andrew trains them all in using the equipment and planning a show and then they are given a slot to fill. From 6am until 1am the next day the station delivers music, news and discussions, including Councillor’s Corner which is a localised version of Desert Island Discs.
Every weekend they have two syndicated shows by former BBC Radio 1 presenters Pat Sharp and Gary King and each morning and afternoon a guest visitor from a local organisation or business has the chance to introduce themselves.
As the station picks up, Andrew’s hope is for more programmes where local issues are discussed.
During the Olympics, Miskin Radio was given the opportunity of going live on 87.9FM to cover local travel news.
It was a feat that cost £7,000 for all the transmitters – money that was raised through grants and donations.
Andrew says it was evident over those few weeks that there was a potential audience for local radio.
“The Olympics proved it. We had a listenership because we could be so specific about what’s going on. There is a call for local community radio and we are filling that need.”