Future of Norfolk’s Wayland Radio in doubt

A community radio station could stop broadcasting in four months' time if it does not secure a fresh wave of grants.

Wayland Radio had funding to last it until March 31 2011, but its future beyond that point looks uncertain.

Station manager Dave Hatherly said: 'Because we have a community radio licence and not a commercial one we have to match fund. It means for every pound of advertising we get, we have to get a pound through grants or providing non-broadcasting services. As you can imagine, with the economic climate, grants are very difficult to find.

'There is a big question mark over the future of the station. We are working as hard as we can to find little pots of money.'

The station costs �40,000 a year to run with just two part-time paid members of staff and a team of 50 volunteers doing the equivalent of �80,000 of work for free.

It has been broadcasting continuously since August 2009 from 7am to 10pm, seven days a week and has previously survived thanks to advertising revenue and grants from Breckland Council and Flagship Housing.

Mr Hatherly said: 'The council has already said they won't be able to fund us any more, which is understandable. The Flaghsip group is doing whatever it can. They are putting more work our way.'

Most Read

The station manager said listeners - who mainly live in Watton, Swaffham and surrounding villages - would be extremely disappointed if Wayland Radio was forced off air.

'Because we are broadcasting to a very rural part of Norfolk we are able to communicate to this isolated community in a way that's never been possible before,' he said.

'It reaches people where they are. We inform people about local events and local services which are specific to this area and people are responding.'

Mr Hatherly said the positive feedback he received from listeners would encourage him to remain positive about the future of the station. Volunteers would not give up until all the money had gone, he said.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman has pledged his support for the station.

He said: 'Community radio stations like Wayland do a vital job promoting the local community and local services. Wayland Radio has established itself on a shoe string budget and is doing a brilliant job in training youngsters who want to go into broadcasting.'

Breckland council said it had provided strong financial and other support to the station including a �24,000 grant which helped the project move into full-time broadcasting.

But a spokesman said it was now facing unprecedented financial challenges with reductions in central government funding. It hopes to offer Wayland Radio advice on securing external grants.