Why Corinium Radio Stays Off-Air During the Snow

When it snows, there is an increased demand for local news and information – such as travel news, school closures and weather forecasts. As a local community radio station, you’d think that Corinium Radio would be the perfect place for that… in a sense, it is. But not all the time – and I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about why…

Its because radio is a heavily regulated industry, and in order to broadcast, Corinium Radio has to apply for a licence from OfCom – 6 weeks in advance. The application alone costs £400, and then on top of that its  a further £90 per day, once the frequency has been allocated, and several licences for broadcasting the music. The total cost comes to over £1000.

On top of that, there’s a studio location to be found (Corinium Radio doesn’t have a permenant studio – the equipment is stored all over Cirencester), and equipment to be set up or hired.

The planning for all of this takes several months – and thats why the station is only on air for about 3 days once every 6 months….

Add to that, the fact that long-term forecasting is not very accurate – forecasters can only predict accuratley what will happen for about 5-10 days into the future (snow events are even more unpredictable) – and you soon realise that it would not be viable for Corinium Radio to start broadcasting in bad weather, during a time when local news is most wanted.

But its not just the issue of licences, fundraising and the weather forecast to think about. A radio station only functions when there are people to run it. There are people to run Corinium… but they are all volunteers, not all of them live within the Cirencester area.

A broadcast during snowy weather would mean our team members are travelling, in some cases quite a way. If you think back to last week, the advice at one stage was not to travel unless absolutley necessary. Travelling because you’re a volunteer is not “necessary”, and to travel quite a distance that some of our team members do would also be dangerous.

In fact, our last meeting was cancelled because the keyholder for the library, the location of our studio for the last 2 years, was snowed in! Even if Corinium Radio was licenced to broadcast at the time, and people were able to travel around Cirencester safely, no one would have been able to get into the studio in the first place!

If problems occur during a planned broadcast, then we probably would do all we can to get local information to the listeners. But to start broadcasting simply because of bad weather would not be possible.

If you’re wondering, there’s no particular reason for writing this update – other than the fact that many people do rely on local radio for news during bad weather, and I wanted to discuss the process that Corinium Radio goes through when planning a broadcast.

Fred Hart

Stock Controller and Radio Presenter/Producer

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