Words by by Melissa Todd
The birth of Faversham radio exemplifies its ethos and spirit. A small group of enthusiasts, all with varied interests, skills and resources, coming together with no budget and precious little experience.
One knew of a tiny potential studio space in West Faversham Community Centre; another had some technical know-how. Two years on, they showcase around 60 programmes each week.
Community radio could once only be heard by people within a tiny geographical radius. Now anyone with internet access can listen. My husband has a radio show every other Tuesday evening on Radio Faversham - Mr Todd’s Jamboree Bag, 8-10pm boasting listeners all across Europe and the States.
There’s a digital map of the world in the studio: wherever people are listening, you can see little green dots blinking. It’s dead cool.
Hearing and recording voices allows us to chart a piece of social history: the doings, interests and talents of ordinary folk, going about their daily business. We tend not to hear our family’s stories anymore; we’re all constantly busy, scrolling between memes, running between work and chores.
An oral legacy is invaluable because the words chosen in casual conversation, the accent, the dialect, are often as intriguing as the content; as much part of the narrative. Nothing is more compelling than the human voice.
Community radio is a fast-burgeoning art form, with around 230 stations now operational in the UK. Faversham being an arty, eclectic sort of place, we have literary shows, history shows, food programmes, theatre and music. The foodie radio show – Mondays, 11am-1pm – is a particular success. The audience may be international but presenters and items are all firmly local. If you want to know what’s happening at your school, down your street, it’s community radio you need.
Mike's Mic features are broadcast throughout the day, with reports and interviews frequently rebroadcast by BBC Radio Kent. For the Open House scheme, reporter Mike Adams cycled across the town meeting homeowners and learning the history of various properties. A recent recording of a town council meeting generated headlines across the world, when a suggestion that the town's copy of the Magna Carta could be sold was picked up by the press.
All shows become podcasts too, so you can listen when and where and how you please. Look up Radio Faversham on Mixcloud. Commercial radio stations have dropped much of their local output, leaving a gap for locally made programmes reflecting their communities, with small, independent, volunteer led stations now flourishing across Kent.
Radio Faversham is a place where people can share their passions, and volunteers are constantly sought. Radio Faversham needs more people to make programmes, promote them and realise the many ambitions of its devoted team.
See radiofaversham.org for more information.