Why are you predicting growth in community radio?
This is the first year that Ofcom is issuing full-time licences for community radio. It follows a pilot scheme that started in 2002. We expect about 100 licences to be issued in the first year and up to 300 in total over the next four years.
What are the benefits of community radio for the sector?
People think it's like local radio, but it's very different. By law it has to be not-for-profit and accountable to the community. It tends to cover a radius of about five miles. Community radio is a great communication tool for the sector. As anyone who has tried to get on to commercial radio knows, you really have to bow and scrape because airtime is so precious.
But because community radio is legally obliged to be responsive to the community, it offers a better opportunity.
What kind of areas does community radio cover?
We were granted two of the 16 Access Radio Pilot full-time licences.
We have one in the deprived area of Wythenshawe in Manchester and another called All FM - it's in south Manchester and covers a very multi-cultural area. There is also a kids' radio station in Leicester, a Punjabi station called Desi in Southall and Cross Rhythms, which is a Christian station.
What advice can you give to organisations wanting to get on air?
One of the attractions of community radio is that you can hear people who speak the same language as you, often quite literally. Where else would you hear Somali, for example? That's why, even though the listenership might be relatively low, you get a great response - people stick with it and awareness spreads by word of mouth.
- To find out more about the Community FM conference in Manchester on 21-22 October, go to www.communityfm.net or www.radioregen.org.