How do you sustain communal life under a lockdown? In this episode, our presenter JAKE LLOYD shares one possible answer. From his home in the UK town of Crediton, he has helped launch Crediton Radio, which is equipping neighbours to make radio shows together - safely, from the comfort of their own homes. Listen here, or scroll down to read the highlights:
Jake worked in radio for a long time before joining Arukah Network. He was a studio director at the BBC. But his career changed when he met the people at Arukah Network and realised that his passion lay with community work and development. He told us: "the stuff I know about is radio, and the stuff I'm passionate about is community."
When he moved to Crediton in 2019, he started to think about bringing those two worlds together. It's a small market town in the south west of England, and Jake had the idea of starting a community radio station - a station owned and run by the community it serves. When Coronavirus and the national lockdown hit, he decided to fast-track the project. When he spoke on the podcast, Crediton Radio had been broadcasting online for five weeks.
For Jake, community radio is about listening. Having interviewed a wide array of people for the How To Build Community podcast - doctors, hairdressers, psychologists, football coaches - he noticed that "it's incredible how often the importance of listening comes up as key to the success of a community project, and to changing people's lives and helping them feel a sense of dignity and worth." Jake realised a radio station was a great way to strengthen a community by listening to the ideas and stories of its members.
Crediton Radio has already broadcast a wide range of voices. Shows include a radio drama recorded by local actors; an interview with the director of a nearby hospital; a story written to help explain to children what a virus is; and a recording of Crediton's dawn chorus, 15 minutes of birdsong. "It's my hope that this is a way for us all to come together for fun, learning and community, in a safe way," Jake said.
Sometimes, a limitation can be a blessing in disguise. As a small enterprise, Crediton Radio can't afford the licence that would allow them to play copyrighted music. So instead, they are using the platform to showcase local, unsigned artists, who play their songs as well as introducing themselves. In a small town, Jake says, "it's been really interesting to see all the different kinds of talents that are coming out of the woodwork, and it's a real privilege to be able to showcase that to people."
Jake has big plans for Crediton Radio. At the moment it's a podcast, not a radio station, because it's prerecorded and only available online. Jake hopes to get funding for a radio studio in the town, and to apply for a licence to broadcast across radio waves. In terms of the community, Jake's great hope is to reach as many people as possible - both as listeners and as possible contributors. "I see listening as a sort of glue that holds our society together, and I'm very keen to make this radio station something that really belongs to everyone here."
For people wanting to set up a similar project, Jake's advice is to start small. On the Crediton Radio website, you can find resources for recording, editing and sending audio. "It takes a little bit of technical know-how," Jake says, "but not a lot." It doesn't have to involve expensive equipment either. "If you've got a device with an internet connection and a microphone then really anyone can make some form of radio."
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