I recently made my debut for U3A on Community Radio with local station 103 The Eye.
It wasn’t exactly a triumph, but then I haven’t featured on radio or TV for well over 30 years, but it’s a start.
103 The Eye is named after a muddy and sluggish trickle of a river that runs through Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire.
The station goes out primarily on 103 FM, but also online via their website, smartphone apps, TuneIn Radio, Alexa and other media, primarily to the 90,000 people in Melton and the Vale of Belvoir comprising North-East Leicestershire and South Nottinghamshire. It broadcasts interviews, news and features, including Community Focus, on which I featured.
Community Radio started life small as Access Radio in 2002, and was recreated as Community Radio in 2004 with a different regulatory structure.
Community stations are essentially voluntary and non-commercial, and have to demonstrate that they meet the needs of a specified community and achieve some “social gain”, and they are generally limited to small broadcast areas and 25-50 watts power.
The first Community Radio to air was 103 The Eye in 2005. There are now around 240 community stations, but it has recently been announced that no more community licenses will be issued locally to us because of overcrowding of the FM frequency band.
In my debut – I talked about U3A and what we are and the 47 interest groups that are active in Bingham U3A in Nottinghamshire. The presenter and producer were immediately onside when I told them about our Real Ale and Cider Appreciation group. Melton U3A has featured several times on 103 The Eye, as have other local community groups.
In 2017, the trustees of the Third Age Trust published a report that (among other things) set out four Strategic Aims. Aim number 4 is raising the profile of the U3A movement at local, regional and national levels, so that people in communities around the UK have an opportunity to join and support the movement. Community radio stations are local voluntary bodies that help to raise the profile of your U3A for nothing.
What are we waiting for?
For your stories on Community Radio contact Sources@u3a.org.uk