Festive airtime silent in hope of a full-time radio station

This December, many will have noted the absence of Chaine FM from Larne’s airwaves.

The decision not to broadcast Chaine FM this year was taken due to those behind the station supporting a bid to bring a full-time community radio station to Larne.

Earlier in the year, broadcasting regulator Ofcom announced that it would be inviting applications for community radio licences in the Northern Ireland area in early 2012. With key personnel at Chaine FM keen to apply for such a licence, it was felt that it was impossible to resource both the Christmas station and a full-time application.

Work has been ongoing throughout the year on developing a plan to create this full-time station.

Social Enterprise Programme funding was gratefully secured via LEDCOM, which has provided mentoring to create a company and business structure for the planned radio station.

Meanwhile, discussions have been taking place with a variety of potential funders and community groups. Much has been learnt about the operation of community radio through contact with the Community Media Council and existing stations. Work has also been taking place on physical requirements for studio and transmitter facilities.

This week, those behind the plans stated that things were looking optimistic. Spokesman, Gary Andrews, said: “Even on the basis of Chaine FM we were clear that there is a need for a radio station serving the community of Larne. However, as we talk to the various groups in the town it becomes really clear that we can present a licence-winning argument to deliver this for the entire borough of Larne.

“We feel we can offer a voice to all sections of the local community and we are confident that Ofcom will recognise this in our application.

“Financiallyb we are confident that this is viable. It will be operated by a not-for-profit company of a type and we believe that we can ensure sustainability.

“However, we need support to achieve this. We are going to be dependent on volunteers to make this work.

“Ideally, we would have preferred to have at least one full-time member of staff, but we realise that this throws the viability of the project into doubt. Therefore we are issuing a call for assistance!”

In the initial stage this will include people who want to help with the licence application and develop the launch of the station, talk to community groups etc.

Later on, all types of volunteers will be needed, ranging from those who want to help look after the upkeep of the studios and liaising with the local community, to those who wish to present or look after the website. Basically, if you think you’d like to help this project, you are invited to get in touch and even if you are not sure what you’d like to do, a job will be found for you.

Meanwhile, for those missing their usual Christmas radio fix, there is good news. Gary Andrews revealed: “Whatever happens regarding the licence application, we intend that there will be a radio station broadcasting next Christmas. We are already thinking of ideas to make things fresh and exciting for our listeners.

“We know that many people will miss Chaine FM this year, we’ll miss our listeners too, but we’d ask for everybody to get behind us and support what we feel is a great opportunity for Larne”

You can get involved by contacting Gary Andrews, by emailing gary@chainemusic.com or by contacting 07740 433590.