Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Community project brings radio to Smith's Wood

ON THE AIR: Terri-Anne Coope and Johnny Dean, from Switch Radio

Other Side of Solihull recently attended one of the radio workshops taking place weekly at Auckland Hall...

IT’S Saturday night and a Smith’s Wood community centre has been transformed into a fully-fledged radio studio.
Members of the Switch Radio team are at Auckland Hall as part of a new scheme designed to give local residents the chance to get a taste of broadcasting.
Over the course of 12 weeks, children and adults will be able to find out what it’s like behind the mic as part of a partnership with the Cars Area Together group.
It is hoped that the free sessions will open up a range of opportunities on the estate, from giving school pupils the chance to learn a new skill to boosting the employment prospects of slightly older residents.
It’s something that Terri-Anne Coope, who has a weekly show on Switch, feels very passionately about.
Having previously studied just down the road at what was then Smith’s Wood Sports College, she fell in love with community radio and is now the station’s head of social media.
“It’s so scary,” she says, when asked how it feels to sit down to broadcast for the first time. “But once you’ve done that first link it gets so much easier.”
In fact the 21-year-old believes that her involvement helped her win a place on her current media and communications course at Birmingham City University.
“I didn’t have the right UCAS points, which was why the experience I’d got here [at Switch] proved so valuable in helping me get in to study the degree that I wanted to.
“That’s a good example of how community radio helps shape people to go on and do exciting things.”
Many stations such as Switch sprung up around the UK following changes to broadcasting laws a little over 15 years ago, which opened the airwaves up to a whole range of not-for-profit, locally-focused operators.
Broadcast licences are issued by the regulator Ofcom, with stations having to abide by many of the same regulations as their larger commercial rivals.
Johnny Dean, another member of Switch’s presenting team, who is busy with the buttons and dials of a fairly formidable looking control panel, says that many of the rules are “common sense stuff”.
“It’s making sure there’s no naughty words and so on and so forth,” he says, having just double-checked for bad language in one of the songs on his playlist.
The music itself is being broadcast out across a roughly 5km area, with shows catering for everything from RnB and hip hop to gospel, by way of mod, dance and darkwave.
Reggae, Johnny reveals, is about the only genre not wholly represented in the schedules. Although who knows, perhaps the specialist Switch are looking for will be discovered during one of the Auckland Hall sessions!
The radio project runs at the Sunbeam Close venue on Saturday evenings (from 5-7pm). If you are interested in getting involved email Terri-Anne (terri@switchradio.co.uk).

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