So it's nice to hear about GTFM 107.9, the community radio station in Pontypridd (and the first community radio licensee in Wales, no less): who have, it seems, a good story to tell.
Media students from Coleg Morgannwg and The University of South Wales, under the instruction of Jon Matthews at "Funding Eye", a Welsh research and funding advice company based in Llandrindod Wells, undertook an audience survey for the station - interviewing 374 adults face-to-face, and weighted for the entire population.
The results of this research? In Pontypridd itself, GTFM has an equivalent weekly reach of 41% - the closest competitor, BBC Radio 1, having a reach of around 25%. Across GTFM's whole broadcast area, the station enjoys around 26% weekly reach - sharing the top spot with BBC Radio 1, and significantly doing better than BBC Radio 2 and Real Radio Wales.
This isn't RAJAR - but the figures appear relatively robust. Whether the level is correct, the fact that the station achieved figures on a par with the BBC and Real is a considerable testament to the station.
Terry Mann, GTFM's Station Manager, was kind enough to respond to an email asking him for a little more information. He says:
If you are still shocked that a (mere?) 'community station' can somehow manage to 'beat' all the big stations (the audiences for which are pretty respectable and generally what you'd expect in our survey) you'll need to understand that our 'community of interest' has always been the local Valleys community at large and the disadvantaged people within it in particular, of which there are many. We are not 'niche' because that is not what's needed here.
More to the point, GTFM's founding Station Manager, Andrew Jones, set it up to sound like the original mid-1970's version of Swansea Sound, which at that time had 63% weekly reach (in its first full JICRAR survey in August 1975) so clearly wasn't getting a lot wrong! And, as the guy who picked the first song ever broadcast on Swansea Sound on 30th September 1974 while a founding staff member, it wasn't especially difficult for me to carry on the tradition when I inherited the management of this excellent station in 2007.
So that's the 'secret' - it's live (for around 18 hours on the average weekday), it's local - with in-house local news bulletins on the hour all day, traffic and travel, whats ons, community messages (charity free ads) plus short interviews mostly about local issues/groups routinely included in weekday morning programmes, Oh - and it plays a mix of hits from the 60's to the current chart (like Radio 2) all day, with excellent specialist programmes at night. Sound familiar? It should, its a formula many listeners have never grown tired of, even though radio mostly has. But I'm not complaining, being the only 'local' station in the old fashioned sense of the word suits us just fine!It's great to see radio doing well - and interesting to see that, by broadcasting a relatively old-fashioned format (and certainly one that radio consultants would baulk at) it's achieved so much. Worthwhile taking a listen?