GREYSTONES COMMUNITY RADIO
Going on air to serve the local community
Organising a radio station may seem like the impossible to achieve, considering the big names and the even bigger money that goes into funding such a project. But although it may seem like a tiresome lengthy and drawn-out process, it is actually not. It can even be quite a rewarding and enjoyable experience, according to some of the locals of Greystones.
From April 30 to May 7, Greystones Community Radio broadcast live on 95.7 FM, with a group of dedicated local people producing, presenting and working all hours to bring their community together.
The story began last November, when a motivational speaker, Peter McFerry, came to the Women’s Group in Greystones and spoke about local communities and how to build them from the bottom up. The idea intrigued the informal women’s group and after a lot of deliberation they decided that in order to do something for the Greystones community they would need to focus on a large project. Then the idea of a radio station was put forward. It seemed like the perfect way to involve everyone in the community, young and old alike.
Evelyn Cawley, Anne Walsh, Janey O’Halloran, Angela Stedman and Anne Crotty wrote a proposal to the BCI (Broadcasting Commission of Ireland), where they stated their aims and objectives for a temporary radio licence in the middle of January. After receiving the licence, the Women’s Group approached Greystones Town Council for backing and support but the Town Council was reluctant as it was too close to election time.
As the Women’s Group is basically a group of friends and is very informal they could not go ahead with the radio station until they found an established group to put their name to. Eire Og GAA club came to the rescue and signed off all the legal documents that were required by the BCI. Three months of planning and organising then filled most of the groups’ time. Notices looking for volunteers were published in the paper, community centre notice boards, shopping centres, anywhere and everywhere so that members of the locality could see them and hopefully take an interest.
Eventually Greystones Community Radio (GCR) had their strong team of presenters, producers, broadcasting assistants, news teams and researchers all on board and raring to go. East Coast Radio provided a lot of help and support throughout the whole project. The well known radio station organised for groups of the GCR production team to visit the station and explained how all the technical equipment works and what kind of format and structure a radio programme has.
It was then decided that all broadcasts would take place from the La Touche Hotel. The GCR team then underwent a training course in presentation skills, script writing and sound engineering, which was provided by Leader. These courses went on for three days where every aspect of radio was discussed and benefitted all who attended.
Insurance costs proved to be a worry, and as GCR did not seek sponsorship from any of the local businesses finding, the much-needed money proved difficult to find.
The Town Council was approached once more, this time to perhaps cover the insurance, but they said that it would cost over €1,000. The Women’s Group decided to ring around various insurance companies and in the end received insurance for just under €600. Wicklow County Council also provided some funding in return for a re-cycling and environmental documentary on the radio station. Sustainable Energy also funded the station in return for a spot on the station, where a show covered the benefits of wind energy.
Friday, April 30 saw the opening of GCR where a wonderful line-up of shows and documentaries were promised to all the local listeners. The Greystones Dart Station provided an information centre where members of the public could drop in and leave requests. The week continued without any upsets and proved that it was a project to bring the community together. From middle aged people to teenagers – all these people worked hard together to build a successful, albeit, temporary radio station that was huge success.
The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland provides temporary radio broadcasting licences to community groups and are given on the basis of minimum overall targets of 4060, speech/music output. Licensing is also based on eight hours minimum per day of live broadcasting coverage. The programming content is typically based on community access and participation and should reflect the special interests and needs of the community served.
A lot of time and preparation needs to be put into a project like this but according to Evelyn Cawley, one of the main movers behind the scenes, it is definitely worth it.
‘It was an amazing success. We have all made such great friends out of the project and we all really know how to present and produce a radio show. I thought it was such a great experience for the youth of the community as it was something that was never done in Greystones before. Everyone involved this year would love to have another go next year. It is a wonderful opportunity for any community and I would recommend that people give it a go,’ she says.