Swindon 105.5 fm community radio station will have lots to celebrate when volunteers and staff come together in April to mark five years of broadcasting to the town.
The achievements include
• Establishing the station with an increasing listenership, and growing and training more volunteers to take responsibility for broadcasting and administration;
• The announcement by Ofcom in late February that the station can continue to broadcast for another five years;
• A £10,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant to produce a series of programmes about Swindon’s historic buildings;
• and the icing on the cake, the commissioning of a new, more powerful transmitter and aerial on top of the David Murray John Tower in Swindon town centre – at last.
Above, A head for heights: Ian Hickling Swindon 105.5 engineering installing the aerial on top of the DMJ.
Station manager Shirley Ludford is delighted that 105.5 will be able to reach more people in and around the town. "We will be heard more clearly, in stereo, in many more places across Swindon, particularly in those areas where volunteers have set themselves up studios to cover their neighbourhood," she said.
"It’s all looking good for community radio in the town and it’s largely down to the enthusiasm of a growing band of volunteers who are giving Swindon a different dimension."
However Shirley cannot hide her frustration by the two years it has taken to secure agreement to erect the aerial on the DMJ which is owned by Swindon Borough Council. "It’s been a convoluted and frustrating two years of dealing with hold ups from red tape and bureaucracy.
"Swindon Town FC have kindly hosted the transmitter and antenna on one of their stands for five years. For the last twenty four months we’ve been trying to move it to a more elevated position so that the station could extend its reach; it’s been an unnecessarily long time, but we’re there now."
Ian Hickling, Swindon 105.5 director and technical director for Transplan, who undertook the installation and commissioning said the new location would allow the full power of the transmitter to be utilised which would improve reception inside buildings and the elevated position means the station will be heard more clearly in parts of the town which had suffered from poor reception.
It’s likely the 105.5 the signal will be heard in Shrivenham to the east, Cricklade to the north, Royal Wootton Bassett to the west and the top of the downs to the south.
Equipment tests will be followed by transmission tests. Assuming there are no technical hitches Ian hopes to be able to switch on the new transmitter on Tuesday 12 March.
Tune into 105.5fm and discover a different side of Swindon. www.swindon1055.com
Left, Shirley Ludford toasting good news for community radio in Swindon by Richard Wintle www.calyxpix.com
Celebrate with Swindon 105.5 at a fifth anniversary party
Friday 12 April, from 7pm. New Century Club, Bright Street, Gorse Hill
Female Cabaret Artists. Music from Sound And The Sirens. Disco
Club price bar. Raffle.
Tickets: £5 (inc free draw) from SWINDON 105.5
The Bentley Centre
Swindon SN1 2SH
Tel: 01793 611555?