SOUTH BRENT COMMUNITY RADIO

A community radio station celebrating diversity, sustainability and action.

Sustainable South Brent are hosting a temporary community radio station, providing a platform for local people, organisations, initiatives, to celebrate the breadth and diversity of activity within our parish. The Community Radio Station will be broadcast on air and online, and will be available through the internet as a listen-again feature anytime.

…cultural history is empowering. In order for rural people to invest in their place, they need to believe their rural place has value… ordinary working people are capable of social inquiry and analysis, and that this capability can be enhanced by practice…

The project has two stages:

  • developing pre-recorded content with participants in the lead up to the broadcasting week.
  • bringing participants into the temporary studio to learn basic editing skills as well as production and presentation skills, delivering their own content to their own community. The studio has a café-like ambience; drop-ins are welcome and might become part of the programming. This will increase involvement and listenership.

SSB were able to test the water for this idea during the week of our Pop Up Shop in October 2012 during which 24 local groups and individuals expressed a written interest to take part, with ideas/proposals including local issues, climate change issues, local history, St. Lukes Hospice, Youth Transition, classical music, oral history with local older residents, low impact technology, local poetry, animals, folk and youth music. Through targeted marketing and direct communication with the broad and diverse range of groups and individuals within the parish we will provide a full week of broadcasts which reflect the cultural activity within the parish, including contributions from the local primary school. (estimated population of South Brent 2000).

The project will run for one week, offering hands-on content-making, recording, editing and broadcasting skills. Material will be broadcast live through Soundart Radio Anywhere. However it will immediately provide a ‘listen-again’ feature in perpetuity on the SSB website, as well as enjoy repeat broadcasts on Soundart Community Radio. What’s more, a group of South Brent parishioners are negotiating with Network Rail to acquire the Village Signal Box, with the intention of opening it as a Community Radio Café, broadcasting regularly.

We hope to encourage a diverse group of people from the community into the project. Some of the local groups include Community Balance, 5 Rhythms dance, Keep Fit, Cuckoo Collective, Wild Harmony, Devon Rural Skills Trust , SPADS local drama group and Youth Folk Group. Sustainable South Brent itself hosts the following groups: community energy, woodlands and wildflowers, community school garden and the woodfuel from hedgerows group. Sustainable South Brent will also create content which draws the parish into discussion and awareness of climate change issues. We will be located in the Old School Centre, hosting editing, presentation and broadcasting skills workshops.

 

UPDATE APRIL 2014

Aims of Project

  • Programmes made by us, for us to listen to and share.
  • To celebrate the breadth and diversity of South Brent
  • To offer skills, and a platform for expression
  • To create an archive, a snap-shot in time, about our community

Delivery

People with an idea for a programme borrowed a recorder, downloaded their recording onto a PC or Mac, used free software to edit the programme, ready to broadcast it live on August 10th.  This was done in conjunction with Soundart Radio (based at Dartington) who provided a mobile unit and 2 technicians. Anyone, anywhere in the world, was able to pick it up live from the online facility on Soundart Radio’s webpage . Also, it was planned that shops, cafes and pubs in South Brent would have it ‘on’ in their premises all day

Inviting participation

An open meeting was held at the Old School Centre on August 17th to launch the idea. 10 people turned up, all of whom had an input one way or the other on the broadcast day. An item was placed in the Messenger, and the South Brent Gazette ran items in 3 consecutive publications. Posters were displayed copiously around the village, and the Sustainable South Brent website and Facebook page also publicised the project.  As a consequence, more programme-makers came forward.

Recording

We used high quality Marantz recorders. With the help of Tim McGill, a professional Broadcasting Consultant living and working in South Brent, participants were shown how to use the recorders and were given a copy of the manual. Much use was also made by Penny Wainwright and myself of my own Yamaha Pocketrak 24, a much smaller and more user-friendly item.

Editing

Editing workshops took place at The Old School Centre, on Friday evening 26th July 6pm-9pm, and Saturday/Sunday 27th/28th July 10am-4pm. These were run by myself and Alastair Robertson, a Dartington graduate with considerable editing expertise who is a South Brent resident.

The Programmes People Made

South Brent and District Caring made a 12 minute piece. This was a collaboration between Sue Burgess, volunteers, clients and family members. 

Mother and Son, Katrina and Thomas, made 2 short pre-recorded pieces announcing a competition they had organised especially for the project. This involved guessing the identity of 3 local voices –Graham Jordan, PC Hopper, and Brenda from the Coop.  Prizes were offered by local traders – a beautiful cake from Foggs, a voucher from Artworks, Fish’n’Chips for 2 from The Friary, and tea & cake for 2 from Crumbs and a Cuppa.

Alasdair Robertson made a Soundscape – a creative audio artwork which explored the limits of the editing software. Darren Schroeder, a new resident of South Brent who has recently arrived with his wife and young daughter from New Zealand, also made a Soundscape, wanting to capture all the sounds that are new to his ears here in Devon.

Jon, a life-ling South Brent resident, made a programme called ‘Railway Memories’, a creative audio artwork using oral testimony. 

Vicky Lannin put together a musical selection called ‘My Generation’, reflecting a journey through musical styles. She prepared a script to introduce each piece of music and her reasons for selecting it.

Phoebe, a six year old author, read out her story about adventures in the village of ‘Fun being Done’. Phoebes Mum Jo, read her poem ‘A Date with my Husband’.

Penny Wainwright recorded the annual Produce Association Fayre and read a live dedication to Ruth Noble. Indeed, we dedicated the whole days’ broadcast to Ruth, one of the founder members of Sustainable South Brent, who sadly passed away recently. 

Penny and Laura also worked together to create short features about South Brent Traders and the Parish Council. We also made a short piece with some young skateboarders. Laura created features about Folk in South Brent, The Old School, The Recreation Association, The Primary School, and the Church Fete.

Live Input

Vicky Lannin introduced her musical selections, and also played live Sax

Cathie Pannell talked about the Empty Homes Scheme.

Graham Jordan talked about the 2 women honoured on the War Memorial.

Dick Everett talked about his life-long interest in bee keeping.

Sandy Baines talked about the community library.

Laura Denning read a short story

Lucy Simistar talked about SBADS and the Village Hall

Joddy Chapman talked about SBCES.

Thomas Murphy gave live updates about the competition.

Mick Bramitch played Concertina

Scheduling was done by Penny, Laura and Alastair.

The Broadcast Day

Soundart Technicians David Mutch and Jenny Wellwood kindly came and set up the mobile studio the evening before the broadcast. Laura Denning, Alastair Robertson Jon Davies (?) and Meredydd Rix helped with this. It was decided to use the Community Library as this had the best acoustics and the books provided adequate sound-proofing. The mobile broadcasting unit is a new feature of Soundart Radio’s community engagement, and this was its pilot run. The link to the studio in Dartington is necessary for broadcasting, and this went down for a few seconds a couple of times. Also, the volume of the pre-recorded pieces was noticeably different to that of the live pieces. These are small issues and are easily resolved. The whole kit fits in a box that fits in the boot of a hatchback.

Listening figures

Approx. 200 online and 800 on fm. On the day we had feedback from listeners in Kent, Germany? And Canada? All people with links to South Brent. After the event we received positive feedback face to face, by email, through the Soundart website and by text. It was clear that this project reached new people who had not previously had an involvement with Sustainable South Brent. 

Social and Community Engagement

Throughout the broadcast day The Old School Centre was buzzing with people coming in to listen, watch and take part. Lawrence kindly documented the day with his camera. A number of traders made efforts to broadcast from their shops. One trader reported conflicting broadband use with credit card consoles.

Follow On Outcomes

A dedicated website with full listen-again facilities and photographs from the day. 

We are also likely to be producing MP3 CDs of the days broadcast as a number of people have requested them. There will be a small production cost but this will be offset by incomes from sales, 50% going to SSB and 50% going to Soundart Radio.

What We Would Do Differently

More pre-planning, longer lead-in, better recorders, more people under 30, more music, dance, drama, a broader range of programme-makers. More time – an evening slot would be popular with DJs and young people. Budget properly.

Next Steps

Consider providing a quarterly community radio broadcast day, as part of South Brents’ annual calendar. The objectives of such a move would be to create an oral history archive. We could develop an equipment base, with recorders available for ‘hire’, available through the library and belonging to the community.

A longer term commitment to broadcasting quarterly, for the first 12 months for instance, would need the equivalent of 1.5 days per week dedicated to it, and would benefit from regular access to a space to work within (when running workshops and meetings).

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