Grant is music to their ears

In a spin ...Trevor Thorne, Koast Radio presenter Erin Burton and Potland Burn plant welder Patrick Phillips
In a spin ...Trevor Thorne, Koast Radio presenter Erin Burton and Potland Burn plant welder Patrick Phillips

A COMMUNITY radio station is returning to the airwaves after a mining company dug up some funding.

The £5,000 grant from UK Coal was music to Koast Radio’s ears as it can now hold a second four-week broadcast on FM to help fine tune a bid for a long-term licence.

The station, which is based at Longhirst Hall and serves Morpeth and south east Northumberland, currently provides an internet-based service for listeners.

It is applying to the media regulator Ofcom for a full-time FM licence that would enable residents to hear its programmes on the radio every day for five years.

Station Manager Vicky Oakley said: “UK Coal’s commitment to what we are trying to achieve has been a huge morale boost.

“I believe there is definitely a real need for a community radio station in this area.

“We want to make a difference in south Northumberland by providing volunteering opportunities for disadvantaged teenagers and unemployed adults and we are already forging strong links with local councils, community groups and charities.

“Ofcom has given us this month-long licence to see how we go.

“The last one (which took place last summer) went really well.

“We have 20,000 people a month regularly listening to us online via our website, but getting the full-time FM licence will take us to the next level.”

The UK Coal backing came from the £500,000 community fund established as part of its Potland Burn surface mine operations near Linton. It has already supported village halls, sports teams, community parks, craft clubs for the disadvantaged and allotment societies among other organisations.

Mine Project Manager Peter Wood said: “Since mining started in May 2009 we have striven to develop and maintain strong links with the local community.

“Koast Radio is supporting community groups in their aims and objectives and giving them a platform to get their message across and so we are proud to be able to support this.”

The station has 30 volunteers and it broadcasts a range of youth-orientated programmes, with a mixture of 70 per cent music and 30 per cent talk.

Potland Burn’s Liaison Committee Chairman Trevor Thorne said: “The community fund is unique in that it supports worthy causes related to the immediate area. Koast Radio has shown it has the ability to run a successful radio company.”

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