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It’s Lift off for FromeFM!

FromeFM, the town’s community radio station, has launched in style onto the FM airwaves.

On Saturday night the station started broadcasting live on 96.6FM from a launch party at the Assembly Rooms. Up to now FromeFM has broadcast online, but after years of planning, a full FM licence was granted last year by Ofcom – the independent regulator for all UK communications industries – and now people can receive FromeFM programmes on ordinary FM radios, in homes, in cars, and in the workplace.

“It’s very exciting and a big thing to get the FM licence,” said station manager Phil Moakes. “We’re now looked at in no different way to the BBC or a commercial radio station.”

FromeFM launched onto the airwaves on Saturday with a ride aboard a rocket ship complete with NASA style countdown and blast off to an evening with the stars.

The launch took place at the Assembly Rooms in front of an invited audience of 150 and was broadcast LIVE on FM radio and also world wide on the internet. The countdown show was hosted by FromeFM station manager Phil Moakes. It included clips from historic broadcasts and trailers for future FromeFM programmes. Presenter Sam Phripp then chatted with actor Mark McGann and his wife Caroline who told stories from stage and screen including fascinating tales from the early days of music video, when Caroline worked with The Who and the Rolling Stones. Sam also chatted with folk singer Cara Dillon and her husband, musician Sam Lakeman, who are working on a new album together and who have recently recorded a track that is being used at the 20th anniversary of Disneyland Paris.

Musician Luke Leighfield completed the line up. Luke created the familiar ‘FromeFM’ jingle five years ago, which he has now refreshed for the FM launch. He is now promoting his latest album New Season.

Phil added “It was a great night. Thanks to everyone who helped make it happen, and in particular to the Memorial Theatre who moved heaven and earth to make our launch a success. Tune in to 96.6 for a fantastic listen!” Fans can continue to listen to the radio online, but the jump into FM gives the station huge potential. Phil continued, “We can now reach a lot of people that haven’t made the jump into digital yet. Still the vast majority of people feel that if it’s not on FM it’s not real. Those people who turn their radios on in their kitchen – we can get to them now. And sponsors like to hear it on normal radio, so we can now go to sponsors with a better offer.

“There are quite a lot of people that do internet radio because it’s easy to do, but the route to FM licence is so long winded. What you have to do is persuade Ofcom that you can do it and sustain it.” The FM licence is granted for five years, but with the opportunity to renew for another five at the end of the first term. The FM launch has also spurred on the station’s ambition to provide as varied, entertaining, and informative programme as possible. Phil said, “We’ve got about 100 people involved at the moment and since we were awarded the licence, more and more have been knocking on the door to help behind the scenes or with ideas for new shows. We don’t want long three hour shows, we want lots of people doing lots of shows. One of the things we’re trying to keep to is that there should be an opportunity for anyone and everyone, whether it be an interest in music or drama or even a business programme. People are bringing their specialist interests to the table and turning them into shows. “A lot of community stations just play music, we’ve set out a different approach. We want the most varied output of any community station in the country.” To find out more about the station and to get involved visit www.fromefm.co.uk

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