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Stoke: community radio pioneers win 5-year licence extension

Cross Rhythms City Radio's community radio licence has been extended for five years ...

Eight employees and up to 100 volunteers, media students, training placements and work experience young people who benefit every year from working at Cross Rhythms City Radio, in the heart of Stoke-on-Trent, are celebrating after hearing the news that their FM Community Radio licence has been extended for another five years. It will now expire on 31 December 2020.

Said Jonathan Bellamy, Cross Rhythms CEO, "The news was unexpected as it came a couple months earlier than we were anticipating. It is incredible to us that by the end of 2020 we would have kept a community radio station, undergirded by Christian values, serving the people of Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme, on FM radio for nearly 19 years!

"First and foremost we thank God for this fresh opportunity, and for his favour and blessing throughout the last 13 years of Cross Rhythms City Radio".

Cross Rhythms City Radio 101.8FM, launched in February 2002 as the UK's first community radio station on air as part of the government's national pilot scheme and steadily grew. They have developed a model of community radio, undergirded by a Christian worldview, that is well integrated with everyday life in the whole city, not just the Church, doing 300+ interviews a year with the local community, and getting feedback from listeners in cafes, taxis, hairdressers, chip shops, universities, petrol stations, garages, pubs and even Muslim-run shops.

Through partnership with groups in other cities two sister FM stations have launched in recent years: Cross Rhythms Plymouth and Cross Rhythms Teesside. The station is also currently helping a group to set up an online community station for Palestinian Arab youth in Bethlehem.

Significantly for young people Cross Rhythms has also established an accredited Media Training Centre in their 12,000 sq ft building in the city centre of Stoke-on-Trent (formerly BBC Radio Stoke). Here training is given to the next generation of media practitioners (like Emily who went on to become station manager for a local community radio station and now works with Global Radio).

In addition quality work opportunities are provided for more than 100 active participants a year through training courses for local disadvantaged young people, pre-apprenticeship courses, work experience placements and weekly volunteer roles.

Their local training is highly rated. In 2011 Cross Rhythms was acknowledged regionally as one of the best work experience placement providers for students. And Open College Network West Midlands stated of their training centre, "This centre has such dedicated staff, who work very well with learners, guiding them through difficult times and producing excellent portfolios. Learners achievements enable them to move on to worthwhile fulfilling employment."

Feedback from volunteers over the years has shown the practical blessing this station has been in their lives. Jonathan says, "Many former volunteers and students have told us they have secured a job with other radio stations and places of employment as a result of their work experience with us.

"One person said, 'I worked as a volunteer for about two years. Being at Cross Rhythms gave my confidence such a boost. If it wasn't for working at Cross Rhythms I don't think I would be where I am today. I now have a paid job after 17 years of not having one!'

"We also know of at least two listeners who were rescued from committing suicide; a baby born that was going to be aborted; and other young people helped in issues like self-harm and teen pregnancy as a result of listening to the station."

The station is keen not to sit back on its achievements of the last 13 years though. Jonathan says, "We need to make the most of these five more years! We feel we have much more to give to the city of Stoke-on-Trent and we hope to make even more difference to people's lives practically, emotionally and spiritually through our broadcasts and community work.

"We are about to revamp the sound of the station; we have plans to increase the amount of local coverage we can deliver; we are open to many more partnerships with local businesses, events and community initiatives; we are increasing the number of places we can offer for traineeships for local young people; and we are about to work on a top secret new project we hope to reveal in 2016!"

If you would like to know more about opportunities to partner, advertise, support, work, train or volunteer at Cross Rhythms City Radio email

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