A journalism lecturer from the University of Northampton fears Welsh voices are struggling to be heard on radio in the country because of changes within the industry.
Marc Webber – who co-founded a local station in south Wales – will speak about a ‘cultural deficit’ of Welsh life on radio when he appears before a National Assembly for Wales’ inquiry into the country’s radio industry today (Thursday).
The inquiry has been set up by the Senedd to look into the effects of changes which have seen local stations fall by the wayside, Welsh programming cut back and UK-wide stations increase their stranglehold on the airwaves.
Marc, who is a Senior Journalism Lecturer, learnt the broadcasting ropes on student radio, before becoming a reporter on Cardiff’s Red Dragon Radio.
Born in Bridgend, he co-founded the town’s local station, Bridge FM, worked for stations in London, Manchester and Birmingham and today reports on football for BBC TV.
Marc will set out his suggestions to revive radio in Wales when he appears before the Assembly’s Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee on Thursday 26 April.
He said: “Having co-founded a radio station in Wales and now teaching the next generation of audio creators at the University of Northampton, I am keen to ensure young people in Wales and beyond get the opportunities I had from radio in Wales.
“These are difficult times for traditional radio companies, as many Welsh listeners turn to podcasts or music streams created miles away from Wales, with little content about Wales in them. I believe this unique ability to be in Wales employing Welsh DJs and journalists could put the major radio groups at a market advantage.
“However, what we have seen is the centralisation of programming out of London for once-proud local stations, as opposed to engaging with communities in their area. That is why I am worried about job opportunities and how Wales is represented on those commercial services.”
His suggestions for Senedd are as follows:
• Free or subsidised transmission costs for community radio stations in Wales on FM and DAB.
• BBC Radio 2 to run news bulletins produced in Wales on the hour during weekday breakfast and drivetime for Welsh frequencies.
• BBC Radio 1 to reinstate the Thursday night Evening Session from Wales for transmission in Wales only, or UK wide.
• RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research) to offer free or low-cost service to community stations for audience measurement.
• Setting up of nationwide Welsh language popular music channel on FM and DAB with no transmission costs for first three years, or a programme-sharing partnership between current Welsh language show makers.
• A free audio news service, supplying clips and bulletins of Senedd sessions to all independent and community radio and podcasters in Wales and beyond.
• A unified national sales rep/team in Cardiff, working for Non Global/Communicorp stations and podcasters to pitch for Welsh Assembly/Government and Wales-wide organisations’ radio advertising spend to even up the market.
• Offer subsidised marketing support to community radio stations in Wales to help raise awareness of their existence to listeners in their area.
• Work with Spotify and/or iTunes music to create a stream and marketing campaign around Welsh Music.
• Assembly to create podcast workshops at Senedd, and in a mobile bus, to help those interested set up and market their podcast on iTunes.
Find out more about the committee inquiry here.
Read Marc’s full submission here.