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Issue 300 – Ambitious plan to expand Frome FM

FROME FM is gearing up to broadcast to a much wider audience, as they prepare to apply for a five year FM radio licence.

The community radio station, which serves Frome and the nearby villages, currently is only available on the internet but hopes it will be able to obtain an FM licence in the future that will allow it to broadcast to anyone with a standard fm radio.
Phil Moakes, programme director at Frome FM said, “We’ve been running over the internet for 2 years now, so we’ve already gone into the new area of on demand. But what we haven’t been able to do is the bog standard licence because you need the Ofcom licence. The licence is all to do with volume; we’ll be able to get out to the widest range of people. The people we get downloading and logging in are those that are digitally aware, and the fact of the matter is that there’s a much wider range of people who could benefit from the radio, and the vast majority of people do have a fm radio.”
Frome FM was only in its infancy when Ofcom opened its second round for applications for community radio FM licences. With this round drawing to a close in the summer, the station is eager to be prepared for a third round.
One of the key criteria for a candidate station is a demonstration of community support, and so the station is urging people to sign a new petition where they can show their enthusiasm for the station and its output. The petition has been launched online at http://www.ipetitions.com /petition/fromefm, and there will soon be a paper petition in addition. Frome FM is encouraging people to sign now in order to build up a strong show of support, particularly as the application is a long and complicated process.
The station will have a good opportunity to prove its value as a community station during the Frome Festival, when it will be broadcasting with a temporary FM licence and will produce a free audio guide to events which listeners will be able to download. “This will be a good time to get people to sign the petition as they’ll see the potential of full FM radio,” said Phil. “We’re also going to produce a sampler CD which we’re going to hand out to community groups so that they can get a feel of what we really do with radio to promote the community.”
Frome FM is a not-for- profit community broadcast service, which has been broadcasting since May 2008. It is staffed by over 80 volunteers who make and present programmes, as well as helping behind the scenes day in and day out. Phil said, “There’s a niche in community broadcasting that we think community radio sits in – it isn’t the same as commercial radio or the BBC or hospital radio, it’s much more vibrant.”

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