Norfolk’s Wayland Radio is forced off air

A community radio station run by volunteers will broadcast for the final time next week after becoming the latest credit crunch victim.

Wayland Radio has built a loyal fan base across Watton, Swaffham and beyond over the last three years while giving young people the chance to gain experience in the business.

It costs more than �40,000 a year to run and has relied on grants from the Lottery and local councils to survive. But with budgets squeezed by sweeping government cuts, the money has finally dried up.

The station will be forced off air when its licence runs out at midnight next Saturday, it was revealed yesterday (Friday).

'It's all so sad - we're gutted,' said station manager Dave Hatherley. 'The cuts have gone so deep that there is just no cash left. We have a community radio licence and not a commercial one, so we have to match fund.

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'Only 50pc comes through advertising and the rest has to come through grants. Breckland Council has been superb in the past, but we live in a different world now and we are just a casualty of the cuts.

'The volunteers have worked so hard and it's amazing what we have done. It's not our fault - we have done something to be proud of.'

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As well as music, news, events and specialist programmes, the station has previously aired programmes in Portuguese, Russian and Polish to reach out to minority groups.

A team of 50 volunteers and two part-time staff have been broadcasting from its base in Ashill, near Watton, seven days a week since August 2009.

'The value of their work has been more than �100,000 a year,' Mr Hatherley said. 'Anybody listening doesn't realise it's run by volunteers. They have been superb. Far from drying up as a project, there were new things on the horizon and we are still very vibrant.'

The station highlighted its plight at the end of last year and the future looked brighter in January after it was inundated with suggestions from the community it serves.

Mr Hatherley thanked listeners for their loyalty and said Wayland Radio may one day make a return.

'The audience has grown and grown. It's been a pleasure to meet listeners and to see them attend events and make them a success, whether its a village fete or something larger like the Wayland Show.

'The reality is that we live in a bankrupt world and radio is a luxury. We've not ruled out having another go in three years or so, when the world may be a different place, but at the moment the world can't afford community grants.'

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