On 26 March 2007 BCFM put out its first broadcast across Bristol. Now, ten years on, they are celebrating their tenth birthday with a 24-hour sponsored radiothon to ensure that they can afford to keep broadcasting for the next ten years.
The station, which broadcasts across Bristol on 93.2FM and worldwide via online streaming, produces over seventy radio shows every week with the help of around one hundred and eighty unpaid volunteers.
That does not mean, however, that the station is free to run.
As a community radio station, BCFM can only provide up to 50% of their funding from advertising. With no other main revenue sources, the station is reliant mostly on sponsorship deals and the generosity of the community that it serves.
According to station manager and CEO Pat Hart it costs around about £25,000 a year just to keep the lights on and the station broadcasting.
That is why, on 31 March, the station is running a 24-hour radiothon – broadcasting from 8.00 until 8.00 the following day – as part of a series of fundraising events that aim to raise £10,000; a sum which should be enough to keep the station running into the next year and beyond.
But why is a small community radio station, broadcasting out of the Beacon Centre at City Academy Bristol, worthy of people’s support?
Pat points to the fact that “many people, including our mayor, credit us with being an integral part of the city”
“[Councillor] Asher Craig said that we’re the heartbeat of the city.”
At the Diversity Awards 2017 hosted at City Hall last week the multi-award winning station was honoured again for their ethos, which is centred around diversity and inclusivity, with a philosophy to inform, educate and entertain the people of Bristol.
And Pat believes that in a time when more and more of the media is owned by fewer and fewer, people value the hyper-local and community based news coverage that the station provides as a welcome change from more mainstream media coverage of events.
He points particularly to their coverage of protests and local issues as a reason for their continued success, with an estimated 10,000 listeners on average tuning in throughout the day and as many as 30,000 tuning in for his One Love breakfast show.