Reading Community Radio

Reg Charity No 1119557

In January 2011 we operated another highly successful 5-day RSL sponsored by Southern Housing group and Ability Housing.

This time Reading4u presented 110 hours non-stop LIVE radio for the Reading Community, making us the ONLY local radio station operating live, locally, 24 hours per day, other local radio stations offering an automated or networked service!

For the first time we had local companies sponsoring individual shows and mounted an Information Day at The Broad Street Mall.

What is Community Radio?  Until recently, the BBC and the commercial stations were the only recognised areas in licensed radio. If you were a by-the-people, for-the-people, not-for-profit organisation you had to apply for a commercial licence, but now community radio is recognised as an area in its own right and there are currently some 250 full-time licensed community radio stations in the UK.

Empowerment is an essential part of any community station. Empowerment means giving people opportunities to have more control of their lives. This could mean access to information they may not have otherwise heard about, for example details on grants for household improvements or understanding what to look for when buying a washing machine. It could be access to opportunities they may not get elsewhere, such as going to somewhere new, like the Houses of Parliament, to do an interview with an MP.

An absolute must for a community station is that it allows participation in all areas of the station. Participation allows people to get involved in a particular project, but not simply as observers or for ‘work-experience’, but as part of the decision-making process within the station.

Reading Community Radio got off the ground in January 2006 as the result of a meeting of like-minded individuals from the voluntary and statutory sectors of the community. A committee was set up and as the result of grants from the Berkshire Community Foundation, recording equipment was purchased and at a training workshop a group of unemployed people got the chance to test their aptitude for radio. A further grant from the Berkshire Community Foundation enabled us to mount two four-day Restricted Service Licences (RSLs) in support of the East Reading Festival and The Oxford Road Community Festival.

A radio station of any kind needs a home and we were lucky to find one in the Broad Street Mall in the centre of Reading. They kindly opened up their “Santa’s Grotto” for the duration of the RSLs and, using presenters from the community, a programme of different kinds of music, from jazz through rock’n’roll to hip-hop and garage was put together allowing 24-hour live broadcasting. That made us the ONLY local radio station in the area broadcasting live overnight rather than automatic playing of records. These music-led programmes were broken by community news and interviews, both live and pre-recorded with organisations as diverse as Berkshire Women’s Aid and British Transport Police.

A further 4-day RSL was broadcast in May 2007 with grants again from Berkshire Community Foundation and The Earley Charity.  For the first time we had some ten people from the Reading Community with no previous radio experience presenting their own programmes with technical support from our team! We also launched “Radio4u”, a project enabling community groups to make their own “radio programme” and this was taken up by Berkshire Women’s Aid and Amethyst.

In November 2008 and 2009 we were able to operate two more 4-day RSLs, for the first time under the station name Reading4u with grants from Housing Associations in the Reading area and we have recently been involved in a 4-day RSL in Bracknell presented by a group of young people.

Further grants from Berkshire Community Foundation and The Earley Charity, together with The Big Lottery have enabled us to set up a permanent home with Reading Association for the Blind at Walford Hall in Carey Street and begin streaming on the Internet as Reading4u on with brand new studio equipment!

We have just finished a Radio Production Training Course with a group of young adults from Prospect Park Hospital.

Before we can achieve a full-time community radio station for Reading we need to establish more funding. We will be allowed to raise 50% of our income through advertising and sponsorship but the balance needs to be obtained through grants and donations. As full-time licences are awarded for five years this means a full and comprehensive business plan being drawn up showing that we won’t run out of funding after a few months.

Is there a place for you? If you have any desire to help establish something which can be a great asset to the dynamic and diverse community that is “Our Reading” then there certainly is a place for you.

Right now, we need someone to look at possible advertising revenue (our scale of charges will vary tremendously depending on the ability of the advertiser to pay!)  You could learn how to follow up and report on community news, how to record and edit interviews, how to present a programme and all the other jobs associated with radio and of equal importance – that includes making the tea and cleaning the studio!

We welcome members from all under-represented groups within the Reading community

For more information, e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call the office on 0118 327 9774.