Posted by Bill Best
Filed under Events

Volunteers, students, and professionals who are passionate about improving their communities met in Birmingham on Saturday 10th September, to learn from, and inspire, one another.

The event was the annual Community Media Conference, and those who came represent small independent radio stations, TV channels and publishers from all over the UK. The Conference was hosted by Birmingham City University, where staff and students share the same passion as those who came along – for bringing all kinds of people together to create local, not-for-profit media.

Professor Tim Wall of the University welcomed delegates at the start of the day and the Conference featured speakers from the Arts Council, BBC, Bristol Cable, the British Library, Ofcom, PPL, PRSfM, Radio Academy, Radio Regen, and more.

The event is the UK’s premier community media conference and was a great opportunity for delegates to network with other industry professionals and catch-up with the issues currently influencing the sector.

Lucinda Guy, Chair of the Community Media Association, said:

“We wanted to celebrate the many achievements of community media, but not shy away from the difficulties. Ten years on from the launch of the community radio licence in the UK, many of our members are struggling. It makes such a huge difference for us to come together like this and learn from one another, and to meet stakeholders such as the BBC, Ofcom and Arts Council England face to face. There was a real buzz at this year’s conference, and a friendly, festival atmosphere. Awkward questions were asked, and we laughed and learned together“.

Bill Best, Operations Manager at the Community Media Association, said:

“This year’s Conference was one of our most successful ever due to a number of factors including the venue location, the Conference programme, and our association with the inaugural Community Radio Awards. We look forward to making next year’s event and even bigger success – work on 2017 has started already”.

Martin Steers, CMA Council member and Awards Chair, said:

“This year was one of the best CMA conferences I have attended, a fantastic lineup of speakers with great panels and breakouts, the theme and discussions at this year’s event really work with what community media projects are achieving in their communities.

I am so happy that we had the Awards after the Conference – what a great way to continue the conversations and networking but also bring those people together with more for the awards to celebrate community radio”.

The Community Media Conference 2016 had a packed programme including two keynote panel discussions on:
1) How Ideas and Individuals flow between Mainstream and Community Media” with:

  • Chris Burns (Chair of Radio Academy and Head of Group Operations, BBC Radio),
  • David Holdsworth (Controller, BBC English Regions – responsible for the BBC’s local output and news-gathering across England)
  • Michael Umney (Production Manager at Resonance FM, radio features producer for the BBC and Poetry Society podcaster)
  • Siobhan Stevenson, Birmingham City University School of Media

This panel was chaired by Lucinda Guy of Soundart Radio and Chair of the Community Media Association. A key takeaway for delegates from this session is that David Holdsworth extends an open invitation to every community radio station to get to know their local BBC Radio Editor better over a cup of tea.
2) Community Media for Social Change: how hyperlocal media can deliver positive social benefits with:

  • Dom Chambers – Somer Valley FM and Radio Academy Affiliates group
  • Dave Harte – Senior Lecturer at Birmingham City University
  • Koel Mukherjee – representing the Bristol Cable Media co-operative, created and owned by over 1,200 people in the city
  • Dean Puckett – film-maker at Grasp The Nettle Films

This panel was chaired by Caroline Mitchell (author, academic and researcher on the Transnational Radio Encounters project) who also took the opportunity to show delegates the prototype of a map browser for online community radio stations.

The Conference also featured breakout workshop sessions on

  • Accessing Arts Council funding – Peta Murphy-Burke & Alison Vermee
  • Health projects on community radio – Phil Korbel, Radio Regen
  • Ofcom licensing and technical review – Graham Plumb & Susan Williams
  • PPL & PRSfM licensing – Lucy Cousins (PPL), Laura Mullinger (PRSfM)
  • Save Our Sounds national archive – Luke McKernan, British Library
  • Small-scale DAB update – Dean Kavanagh, Switch Radio

Delegates were also informed about a new initiative to develop a national community radio advertising scheme by Bill Hensley from Huntingdon Community Radio for which over 50 new sign-ups were recorded.

Feedback from the delegates has been overwhelming positive and the sector looks forward to 2017.

The Community Media Conference was followed by the inaugural Community Radio Awards event which was a resounding success with almost 50 entries from across the country being recognised.

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