I love local radio and love Radio Shropshire. It’s my station of choice. It’s more than that – it’s a friend. And it has the highest local audience of all local BBC stations.
TV and national radio get successful by creating celebrities. The sort of people you’d take a selfie with.
Local radio is different.
Local radio is at its most successful when it builds a bond of friendship with local communities. The presenters who excel in local radio are those that listen to their audiences as well as talking to them. They craft their broadcasts not just around their own personalities but also their changing communities. They constantly reinvent local broadcasting without betraying the air of familiarity that makes BBC local radio feel so much like a treasured friend.
And that’s why BBC Radio Shropshire works and why more than a quarter of people in our county tune in every week (27%). Only one other BBC local radio station in England gets a higher level of listening than BBC Radio Shropshire – that’s Cornwall. There’s a message for us in the RAJAR statistics for listening. Local radio matters more in rural areas like ours.
In a county like Shropshire, where the population is relatively small and sparse, local radio helps bind our community together. Our BBC local radio presents a stage for our young musicians, playing anything from pop to rock through jazz to folk.
BBC Radio Shropshire provides a voice for our community to share achievements, to tell of woes, to seek help and to offer each other support.
But no one should ever expect that local radio is always serious. Sometimes it is delightfully trivial, local trivia, not the trivia in the mind of someone in London or Birmingham.
So happy birthday Radio Shropshire. I hope you are still here in thirty years’ time.