Tuning into the community with Reading4UBy Caroline Cook
June 28, 2012
A community radio station has been making waves in Reading for two years.
Caroline Cook went behind the decks to find out more.
In the middle of night when most of Reading is tucked up in bed there is still a light on in a small building in Weldale Street.
Upstairs inside the box building, in a small studio filled with cups of tea, a businessman is putting on his headphones ready to go on air.
In the day he might work for one of the high-tech companies at Thames Valley Park, but when he clocks off he turns his hand to the decks for a radio show on Reading4U.
The community radio launched two years ago and has been streaming online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ever since.
Around 60 volunteers from 11 different nationalities are involved in presenting and production and it is hoped the radio may be able to secure an FM licence in the next few years.
“Reading4U is run by people that are prepared to think outside the box,” says Eddie Winship, who helped found Reading Community Radio, the charity behind Reading4U.
“For me the big thing about community radio is that it doesn’t matter how many people listen out there,” says Eddie. “It’s about recognising the little groups that are doing a fantastic job which nobody knows about.”
Over the past two years Reading4U has welcomed hundreds of guests through its doors, providing opportunities for young people and support for the community.
“They come in here and talk to us for an hour and they go away three feet off the ground,” says Eddie. “The most important thing is the involvement of people.”
As well as inviting Scouts, community groups and schools in for a stint on the airwaves, the radio also welcomes individuals with a cause, like Richard Saunders, father of four-year-old Amelia who has an inoperable brain tumour.
Mr Saunders and his wife Chantal have set up a charity, Amelia’s Miracle, to fund treatment and to support other children with the same condition.
“We had a primary school coming in on the same day and they all got chatting,” says Eddie. “A 10-year-old boy said to Richard, ‘when I get back to school I’ll see if we can raise some funds’. That’s just brilliant.”
Earlier this year Reading4U also ran a training programme with children from the Youth Offending Service and Probation service.
After the course some of the young people remained involved in the project and went on to take presenting slots.
As well as doing its bit for good causes, Reading4U also brings a pick’n’mix selection of music to the town with dozens of different presenters taking to the airwaves each week.
“For me it’s something left over from my university days in Australia,” says Chris Mosley, who presents Slipped Discs on Sundays from 4pm to 6pm.
“A friend of mine was considering being a presenter and asked if I would like to come along. It’s fulfilled a long-term dream of mine.”
Another presenter who has been with the show since it began is Joanne Kelly who presents Strawberry Sundae on Sundays from 6pm to 8pm.
“I got involved at the beginning because my friend was just starting a show, Mondo Fuzz, and he invited me to guest on his first show,” explains Joanne, who also co-ordinates the station’s social media accounts.
“At that point there were quite a lot of gaps in the schedule so I thought it would be good to have an indie show in there.
“For me it’s not just about me the presenter, it’s about everyone around me – it’s about the community.”
To listen to Reading4U visit www.reading4u.co.uk