By Alan Golden
A NEW community radio station could be launched to serve Leatherhead and the surrounding area if there is enough local support for the venture.
Graham Pountney, director of Screen Test Productions, which is based in the town, and his colleague Steve Ray are canvassing opinion and the strength of local interest in establishing a Mole Valley or Leatherhead Community Radio Station.
The pair are using the working title Mole Valley Sound while seeking to establish support for the idea.
“We believe the Leatherhead, Ashtead, Bookham, Fetcham, Oxshott, Cobham and surrounding areas would enjoy and benefit from such a unique community initiative,” said Mr Pountney, who stressed there would need to be community support if the venture was to proceed.
“Steve has created and opened two such stations, which are both thriving – Vectis Radio on the Isle of Wight and Hawks Radio in Harlow, Essex,” he said, but made clear: “It is very early days and we are just trying to canvas opinion.”
Mr Pountney, an actor and radio and film producer who runs the Centre Stage Dance and Drama School in Cobham and Oxshott with his wife, said: “It is a question of wanting to put something back into the community – Leatherhead needs a bit of help at the moment.”
A ‘vision statement’ for the station, which would be run as a not-for-profit social enterprise, has been drawn up and a plan prepared covering the costs and the benefits to the community.
“We would like to chat to influential people in Leatherhead and the wider area to gauge enthusiasm,” said Mr Pountney, explaining that a meeting for the community will be held towards the middle of this month.
If there is sufficient support he and Mr Ray will then seek a licence to take to the local airwaves with the new station, which would provide jobs, local advertising and opportunities for local poets, playwrights and musicians, as well as a vital educational role.
In the vision statement he has prepared, Mr Ray describes Mole Valley as a “great place to live and grow up”, but states: “Sadly, many people do not always recognise this and fail to fully embrace the skills and people we have around us.
“Mole Valley Sound wants to attempt, with others, to bridge this gap and support our future, to include the youth of today and all those community groups who work tirelessly to better everyone’s experiences in our area.” The plan is for the station to operate from 8am to 6pm with local DJs ‘promoting local issues for local people of all ages’.
Then, says Mr Ray: “From 6pm we want to involve local community groups by giving them their own programmes to promote their profile and events.
“We are looking to involve the council, schools, colleges and other agencies in giving people opportunities.”
These, he states would range from a school quiz to annual employment schemes.
“Linking with other media producers we will seek to assist those who wish to make a career in media, whatever the field, to gain employment and develop a career path,” says Mr Ray.
Mr Pountney explained that the idea would be to help NEETs – young people not in employment, education or training – by offering them opportunities that could pave the way for a media career.
“That is one aspect – the other is really local radio which can be piped into the shops in the local high streets.”
Details of the public meeting are still being finalised, but anyone interested can email Mr Pountney at firstname.lastname@example.org to express support or otherwise, and they will be notified when it is to be held.
(Source : get SURREY, UK)