The thing I remember most from the first meeting I attended about South Birmingham Community Radio (SBCR) was Peni Whelan saying “Community radio is 90% community and 10% radio.” Peni and SBCR Board Secretary Nick Shough are the collective brains behind SBCR, and had organised a public meeting to offer local residents an insight into the plans for developing a community radio station in South Birmingham and to find volunteers to help out.
We've come a long way since that first meeting. We formed a management committee, got some funding from Community Network South West, appointed Peni as Station Manager and our first 28 day FM broadcast is due to launch at the beginning of August. We have had our first successful internet broadcast, live from the launch of Birmingham's Climate Change Festival. As well as broadcasting the speeches given at the launch we were able to conduct interviews with Cllr Paul Tilsley, the Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, and Dame Ellen MacArthur, who gave us some excellent tips on changes an individual can make to reduce their negative environmental impact. These interviews can be found on our website. We were also able to demonstrate our capacity for using alternatives to mainstream power sources by bringing along a 12-volt battery attached to an 85w photovoltaic solar panel that generated easily enough power for the laptop we used to broadcast our stream.
One of our key objectives as a community radio station is to raise awareness of environmental issues and the contribution that individuals can make to the cause of sustainability and reducing the harmful impacts of human behaviour on our planet's ecosystem. It is mandated by our constitution that we will seek to generate as much of the power we need as possible from alternative sources of energy and we have been loaned two solar panels to start that process rolling.
We are keen for anyone who is interested to get involved – whether you are looking to present a show, put together a documentary on a subject relevant to the people of South Birmingham or do some behind-the-scenes audio magic, then please do get in touch or just come along to one of our radio training evenings every Tuesday at Bishop Challenor Sports Centre in Kings Heath. It's very good fun!
Phone (Peni Whelan): 07828 797467