Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Radio Investigation Continues A Walk Down the Street

May 8, 2010 · 1 Comment

It’s been a while between paper writing, traveling the world, and getting caught by a volcano….but I finally found time over spring break to sit down and reflect on my conversation on March 16 with Tom Buckham, manager at Future Radio. (and now almost a month later am finding time to actually post it in the blog)
After having spent some time interviewing and shadowing people at BBC Radio Norfolk I was ready to do a little comparison and to learn more about Future Radio, other than what I had read about on their website. So on Tuesday March 16th I used Google Maps to location the station and figure out which bus I would need to take.  After double-checking with my Norwich A-Z (and confirming with my housekeeper, Tina) I discovered that the station was only a 20-minute walk down Earlham Green.  I was off, and finally ready to learn more about the station, beyond the website.  Winding down neighborhood streets I finally stumbled upon Norfolk Community Center in the middle of Motum Road. Taken aback a little by the size of the complex (not big by any means, but certainly a decent size for the location) I wandered around and found the entrance to Future Radio.  Future Radio is a community radio station as a part of Future Projects, an organization aimed to bring art, education, and media to students aged 13-16.
Community radio stations are required to get a license through Ofcom before being established.  Currently Future Radio is preparing to have their broadcast expanded from just West Norwich to the East and Southeastern parts of the city as well.  This expansion is a result of being the first community radio station to reapply for, and be accepted for this expansion and license extension.  Because of this re-launch, as well as the other day-to-day responsibility of being manager, Tom Buckham and I only had about 30 minutes to talk, but his information about the station was invaluable.
We initially discussed the basics of the station not covered on the website, such as: where their funding comes from, how program topics were determined, and what influences the station and their programs.  I learned that roughly 165 station volunteers choose what they are going to broadcast on, based on personal interest, and the varied cultural make-up of Norwich.  One of the aims of Future Radio is to be able to offer all members of the community at least one hour or so of radio that they want to tune into.
This goal allows an interest in Future Radio to build, however being a station aimed at targeting the greater Norwich community, it is challenging because they are in a category where they are ‘competing’ with stations similar in goal that have a lot more funding and are more recognizable by name, like BBC Radio Norfolk.  Tom and I discussed BBC Radio Norfolk further and he said that for them it’s not comparing themselves as stations (I guess that was just my competitive American mentality, forcing a comparison), but it really is more about providing the best stations with the best programs they can for the Norwich community.  He mentioned that over the past 2-3 years as Future Radio has been building as a station; BBC Radio Norfolk has been extremely supportive and helpful.  Buckham also told me more about the relationship Future Radio has with the Norwich Community Council as well as the current relationship they have with the Norfolk Broads.
It was great to talk with Tom and to learn first-hand more about Future Radio (because reading about it for the past few months has not been the same). Next week [when this blog was written it was supposed to be next week…. volcano disrupted these plans.] I’m going back to the station to spend a shadow day like I did at BBC Radio Norfolk and I hope talking with more people and spending a longer period of time at the station will give me an even better idea of what Future Radio is really like.

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1 response so far ↓

  •   aidanoshea // May 11th 2010 at 10:21

    The first time you mentioned Future Radio, I assumed it operated on a similar model to American public radio, that is, trying to offer a higher quality of relevant content by being free from the constraints of outside funding or advertising. It seems now that Future Radio is more democratic than that.
    Instead of focusing on hard news and national programming to make up for a lack of it elsewhere, as NPR would, things like the one hour of programming per person rule make Future seem as though it has no agenda besides accommodating the community’s interests as a whole. The modest size and funding seem like they make for some interesting programs, such as the music in film and TV show you mention in the next blog.
    It does look Future will have some trouble competing, though. Good luck to them.

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