1.3 million more people than last year can now enjoy the services of their local community radio station.
The latest Ofcom report on community radio shows that the stations are reaching more adults across the UK than ever before. It is estimated that 10.5 million adults are now able to receive the community radio station aimed at them. This is a 1.3 million increase on last year.
This graph complies data from Ofcom’s Annual Report on the Community Radio Sector over the last four years. As you can see, the population served by community radio has steadily increased from 6.5 million in 2007 to 10.5 million adults who can access the service. That is 17% of the population who can now listen to their nearest community radio station via FM or AM frequencies.
Community RA+Edio spoke to Christopher Palmer, who lives in Swindon and has started listening to his community radio station, Swindon 105.5, in the last year. He told me that ‘there is something endearing about listening to community radio. You’ll hear them say things like “we can’t play music as the CD player is broken but don’t worry, Tony is on his way to Curry’s to buy a new one!”’.
Ofcom does not record RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research) figures for community radio stations so there is no way of knowing how many of these adults are actually listening to their stations. Pure Radio in Stockport highlighted this as a problem, saying that they “would like to have more information on our audience but do not have the resources to fund research”.
Pure Radio also said that despite not being able to fund research, they have “continued to build on our record of successfully developing volunteers”,. What is interesting is that over the past four years there has been an increase in not only the population served by community radio, but a rise in volunteers working to boost community stations across the country.
As the above graph shows, there has been a rising trend in the average number of volunteers working at community radio stations in the past four years. The actual number of volunteers at each station varies hugely depending on their size and output, but what this does show is a growing interest from volunteers in the community radio sector.
We spoke to Charlotte, who started working at Camden Community Radio in the past year and she told us that she started working there because “I have lived in Camden all my life and I saw that I could use my skills to participate in the community”.
The Ofcom report also highlighted a very encouraging trend, which combined with the increase in volunteers, perhaps gives a reason why the community radio service is growing. The average number of hours worked by volunteers has increased by 82 hours in the last year.
Whilst the rise in volunteers demonstrates a steady upward trend, this graph shows that the average number of hours they are working has increased significantly in the last year. The figures suggest that volunteers are putting more time and effort into community radio than ever before and the implication is that their dedication is improving the service provided by these stations.
So it seems that the unpaid time and effort that community radio volunteers are putting into their stations is working. The latest report from Ofcom shows that community radio may be becoming a medium that will benefit more people in their local communities soon.
You can find the latest Ofcom annual report on the Community Radio sector here.