2007 Annual Report

1.1 Community Radio Annual Report: Year Ending 31 March 2007

Station details

Licence Number
CR003

Station Name
Cross Rhythms City Radio

Launch Date
01/01/2006

1.2 Key commitments: programming

The programming will, first and foremost, aim to satisfy the needs of the community for local news and information. It will also air issue-led content that provides opportunities for discussion and interaction, which will address moral, social and ethical issues. Listeners will be encouraged to participate in such discussion-led programming. Music will be predominantly of the Christian genre.

  • Live programming output will typically comprise 75% music and 25% speech (‘speech’ excludes advertising, programme/promotional trails and sponsor credits, and may be calculated over any four hours).
  • The music output will be comprised predominantly (at least 90%) of contemporary Christian tracks, and maintain a positive theme. Specialist shows on genres such as rock, music related to the black church tradition, new independent music and contemporary worship will feature in the evenings and at weekends.
  • Speech output shall consist of interviews, audience interaction, topical features, public service announcements, news, weather and travel information, as well as some bible teaching and contemporary worship programming. Local current affairs will generally be covered from a Christian perspective.
  • Language of broadcast: English, though the station may consider broadcasting in other languages if a demand is identified.
  • Live programming (which may include pre-recorded inserts, if applicable) will typically comprise 15 hours a day from Monday to Friday; some live output will also feature at weekends. A sustaining service will be taken from the Cross Rhythms satellite radio service (licence number SA142).

1) Our live programming output has maintained the 75% music versus 25% speech ratio.

2) Music output has been nearer 99% contemporary Christian tracks. We have maintained specialist programmes and added in a new hip hop mixshow called Street Flava, and a new reggae show called Shekinah Reggae Show. This has spawned an emerging active group calling themselves The Cross Rhythms Urban Connection, who are DJ in gigs across the West Midlands and Staffordshire plugging their shows and the station. In addition to evening and weekend use of our worship music we have expanded it’s use to 6am-7am each day a time when many Christians would be ‘having devotions’. We run Independents Day (a show playing independent bands’ music), the Rock & Hard Place (2 hour rock show), the CR Top Ten chart show and Profile Special (a one hour artist interview show).

3) All of the points outlined in the speech output commitments are a staple diet of the station. We have also launched three new shows of an evening that are speech based (with some music). These are called Audacious, RockNations and Theshowwithnoname.

4) We still only broadcast in English although we are open to appropriate specific programmes in other languages. Recently a tentative discussion has taken place exploring a French language show for French speaking African immigrants in the community.

5) Live programming has been maintained about 13 hours per day weekdays, but in the last six months we have broadcast a live Saturday afternoon show, 4 hours each week. Average number of live hours per month is 305. We also took the decision last summer to cease the Cross Rhythms satellite radio service. Thus instead of us taking programming from it as a sustaining service we have incorporated much of the programming that was on that service into the ‘ownership’ of the community service.

1.3 Key commitments: Social gain objectives (a) The provision of sound broadcasting services to individuals who are otherwise underserved

  • There is no service available in the area that caters for the Christian community. The station aims to provide content and programming with specific relevance to the Christian community.

This still remains the case that there is no other FM service that caters for the Christian community in the area.

Our music output is specifically relevant to Christians as it is all music produced by Christian artists carrying lyrical content relevant to a Christian lifestyle. Every hour we play one minute social and spiritual thoughts. We have introduced a short morning feature sharing individual life stories connected to people’s experience of Christian faith. For 16 weeks we ran a series with local older Christians (most over 75) called Silverliners. Each day we run Choice Thought featuring a ‘Thought For The Day’ by a local minister. Our Verticality worship programmes every morning and evening are very relevant to Christian worship tastes and are contemporary enough to engage younger Christians as well as older. Our evening programmes in particular are more specifically geared for Christian listeners (the daytime is when we feature most of the interviews and features on and with the wider community). In the evenings we run Christian lifestyle and teaching programmes such as Audacious, Realtime, RockNations, Theshowwithnoname, Koinocopia (one hour teaching using seminars from Christian festivals) and Close Encounters (one hour life stories). On one Sunday we ran a full 12 hour live broadcast which we called Creator Day – a day to focus the music we played specifically on God (worship music). Local church leaders came in and brought prayer focus for listeners. Another Saturday we broadcast a live OB for a visiting speaker (Craig Marsh) who was speaking in the City’s Town Hall. We also partnered with a local Christian music festival called Passion 07 which took place at the Stoke City football ground.

1.4 Key commitments: Social gain objectives (b) The facilitation of discussion and the expression of opinion

  • The station shall invite guests to the studios for discussion topics on local issues and current affairs such as community relations, health, law and order, child welfare, consumer issues and open the discussion to the listeners to participate to express their opinions.
  • Some output will address theological, philosophical, moral and spiritual themes relating directly to those adhering to the Christian faith. This will include studio discussion and interviews.

1) Many of our guests are from the wider local community. Every other week we interview and get an update from the Elected Mayor of Stoke-On-Trent giving opportunity for people to email or phone in questions. To develop this slot the Elected Mayor has agreed in principle to plugging the feature in the council’s community publication (City Life) which goes into every home in the city. Examples of those we regularly touch base with include: North Staffs Police; North Staffs Asperger & Autism Association (including special interview with patron Anthea Turner); Groundwork (local redevelopment agency); PARINS (Partners Against Racism In North Staffordshire); Staffs Fire & Resuce; Citizen’s Advice Bureau; Learning & Skills Council; Stoke Drug & Alcohol Action Team; Stoke Council City Events Team (including being one of the partners and judges for the annual Citizen’s of The Year Awards); Regent Theatre & Victoria Hall (local venues); Media Action Group For Mental Health (including profile of their annual Sanity Fair); Planet Sound (including profile of their annual Carnival); North Staffs Regeneration Zone; Renew North Staffordshire; YMCA; HM Revenue & Customs; INSTAFFS (Inward business development).

Every hour (7:30am to 5:30pm) we run local news supplied to us from The Sentinel local paper.

Many one off guests have been invited in including: City Centre Manager; local housing agency experts (Mike Wolfe Associates); local councillors and MPs during election periods; local Princes’ Trust; specific theatre production guests; Lenzflare (local film co.); Axis Fest (local music & arts event); local BME group; Synapse Youth (local battle of the bands); CAB Befriending project; Voluntary Action; Shakedown Dance Conference (local dance event raising funds for orphanages in China); Dreamschemes (7-17 yr olds community work for rewards intiative); Boyzone’s Shane Lynch and many others.

Through regular interviews with groups such as 2C7 (local network of Church leaders), City Vision Ministries, VIP (organisation involved with marginalised young people) and local church leaders we look at how the local church should respond to local issues such as homelessness, asylum seekers, youth work, addictions, and engagement with the wider community. Often we offer local church leaders the opportunity to pray on air for these types of areas.

In addition, from wider afield we have run interviews with national groups such as World Vision (Christian group heavily involved in Stop The Traffic (people trafficking)) and March Of The Abolitionists (dealing with the legacy of the slave trade). Each month we focus on Israel and the Middle East with a report from a youth worker based in Jerusalem who works with Arab and Israeli young people. We look to discuss the more well known national moral or Christian interest stories such as the Human Tissues and Embryology, Euthanasia or Religious Hatred bills, giving interviews and feedback from the different positions of the debate.

1.5 Key commitments: Social gain objectives (c) The provision (whether by means of programmes included in the service or otherwise) of education or training to individuals not employed by the person providing the service

  • The service will combine training with local training providers such as Stoke on Trent College and YMCA, with courses that are broadcasting related and open to the community as a whole.
  • Furthermore they will collaborate with on-going training with local community on projects such as drugs awareness to develop appropriate programme material for broadcast.

1) Many of our work experience people come for training and experience from education institutions. These can be local and from further afield and include in the last year: Chester University, Newcastle College, Alleynes High School, Staffordshire University, Sheffield University, Stafford High School, Guildford University. Mostly young people coming form universities further afield are local people who are studying away from the city. One student has joined us for a full year as a work placement. Two higher profile projects are now also being developed i) from September 07 it is expected that the local Staffs University media dept will incorporate into their syllabus fieldwork for students whereby they go out to communities in the city and record their opinions and thoughts on any topics. These will be editted by the students down into short 30 second features to go out on the station as Voice Box each day; and ii) the progression of providing specific training courses with the YMCA has developed into a project to set up a Media Training Academy in our building in the city. We will work with accredited course providers and will focus on several purposes i) to provide accredited media training for local disadvantaged young people (as well as YMCA young people, we are building partnerships with the council youth services and local Duke of Edinburgh groups), ii) a centre where anyone from across the country can come to us for media training for 3 months, 6 months or a full year not just getting accredited courses but getting involved with the day to day station responsibilities, getting the much needed hands on experience along with their qualifications to add to their CV, and iii) to be a training base whereby those people looking to get involved with any of the other community stations we collaborate with in the UK (such as Cross Rhythms Teesside) can come and be trained in the various radio skills required, and learn hands one before going straight back, much better equipped to work on that station when they return. In effect we see the role out of this training academy having already begun with the nurturing and training of those young people who have already come to us, and from September this year we will start to support Cross Rhythms Teesside when they send some of their people to us for a few months in the run up to their planned launch in early 2008. In addiction however we are currently putting together a specific timetable of courses with training providers, to run these on floor 2 of our building. We have also already been approached by someone able to offer local accommodation for some students if required.

2) Throughout the second half of 2006 we ran a series of 5 on air adverts about Cannabis use. These were produced by young people as a ‘soap’ drama sketch in a collaboration between Cross Rhythms, the Council Youth Services; local DAAT, Project Q (local community media studio) and a Job Placement Provider.

Having been discussed and planned over the last year and due for launch on October 1st 2007 is a monthly radio show called VIP. VIP is a local organisation who work with marginalised young people, particularly the homeless. They hold special dinner events specifically for these young people, bring in quality guests and bands (such as Shane Lynch of Boyzone at the last one), they give the girls hair do’s, do their nails and make up etc and get the guys engaged in things like Play Station etc. They give them vouchers to buy clothes, toiletries etc. Due to their own demands it has taken a while to set it up but from October the VIP radio show will provide a voice for the marginalised and homeless in the city. Each show will have young marginalised people sharing from their experiences and raising awareness of their lifestyle and pressures etc – something that would be rarely heard from these young people themselves.

1.6 Key commitments: Social gain objectives (d) The better understanding of the particular community and the strengthening of the links within it

  • The station will promote events that will bring the whole community together and also use the station as a focal point for bringing Christian groups together.

Every day on the Breakfast Show and on City Drive (drive time) we do the Event Guide feature. This profiles any local Christian events taking place. We also profile many of the events taking place in the whole community. In addition of course we run interviews with specific local events both Christian and wider community.

Events where the station has been used as a focal point for the Christian community include:

1) Month Of Prayer – On two occasions in the last year local churches have held 24 hour continuous prayer for the city and the region, doing one day each over a full month. Every day in breakfast and drive the station has done updates and reports from the churches.

2) Live OB from Craig Marsh a renowned visiting speaker speaking in the city’s town hall.

3) Passion 07 – A contemporary Christian music festival held in the Stoke City football stadium. We provided lots of support and profile of this cross denominational event.

4) 2C7 – A monthly event that brings together Christians across the city for prayer. Normally from about 60 different churches. The station provides advance information on what each 2C7 night will focus on.

1.7 Key commitments: Access and participation

Cross Rhythms City Radio will encourage and promote access to the service as follows:

  • Offering on-going training by the group for those employed by the station.
  • Training at least 15 volunteers per quarter.
  • Developing linked training and projects with local educational establishments and other local organisations, such as Groundwork, Stoke on Trent College, Millennium Volunteers Project, Blackfriars School, New Deal and Mickelson House, YMCA.
  • The group shall actively promote on air the services that it offers and invite the community to participate.
  • ‘Taster’ courses to be advertised in publications to encourage participation from the community.

1) Most ongoing training for those employed can be done in house. In addition however over the last year we have sent two of our IT guys to an advanced computer language course called Ruby On Rails. Two other members responsible for advertising and marketing attended a course run by Mike Owen Media specifically focussed on their areas of responsibility.

2) Over the year we have had 40 different volunteers with about 20-25 active volunteers in any quarter.

3) We have maintained connections with the above named groups however we have found that demand for people to get involved as volunteers and work experience is more than what we can manage at the moment. In the last year in particular more young people have come to us from education establishments (as indicated in 2.5).

4) On air adverts for volunteer opportunities go out several times a day. It is from that that we get many volunteers contacting us direct, hence why our actual activity with some of the local work experience groups hasn’t been strong this year. Additionally we invite people to contribute their events to our event guide.

5) We have not advertised any ‘Taster’ courses as yet. It might be that we do this when our Training Academy is stronger.

1.8 Key commitments: Accountability to the target community

The station will aim to:

  • Be an active participant in monthly meetings of local Church leaders typically 30 to 70 local Church leaders attend).
  • Encourage direct listener feedback is via on-air promotions, letters, e-mail shots and public meetings.
  • Issue audience questionnaires every six months (e.g. through local united Christian meetings in the area or through local Christian mailings)
  • Log relevant feedback via a number of different channels, for example email, phone calls, text messages, e-text via the website, website guest book and message board comments. In addition comments book in studio reception.
  • Formalise its relationship with representatives of local Churches and other interested groups through a quarterly 'board of reference' to receive feedback on the station.
  • The group is a member of the Christian Broadcasting Council (CBC) and has agreed to abide by its code of contact

1) We continue to play an active part in these monthly meetings of local leaders. In addition in the last 6 months we have been invited to be one of twelve local church leaders who meet regularly to discuss more specifically the role of the church in the community. Our part in that is well incorporated.

2) Over the last year a number of our employees have spoken at local churches, giving updates on the station and being available for feedback. The CEO has specifically met with 15 primary church leaders in the city to get their specific feedback on how they see the station and effective partnership with it. We encourage email feedback through our website – responses to which are scrolled along the front page on our website. Every two months we send out a local email newsletter in which we regularly ask for response on topics.

3) Through busyness we have not yet issued a specific audience questionnaire this year, but will aim to do so in the next quarter.

4) We keep a record of all feedback both positive and negative. Primarily it comes through emails and E TXT (a facility on the front of our website where people can email directly to the live on air presenter in the studio, or the web editorial team or the web technical team).

5) We have 5 key local leaders as a loose ‘board of reference’, who we see through the monthly leaders meetings and on other occasions. As we work closely with them on many projects the accountability for our activity is very strong.

6) we are still members of CBC

1.9 Volunteer inputs

As mentioned over the year we have had 40 different volunteers with about 20-25 active volunteers in any quarter.

Of those 40 the breakdown of their primary roles is as follows:

On Air Presenters 5
Off Air Production 8
Editorial Dept for website 7
Administration/Reception16
Cleaning/Odd jobs 3
Marketing 1

We tend to standardise that most volunteers work 2 days a week for six weeks. This gives opportunity for more people to get a ‘taste’ of media, and also if some find it particularly difficult to connect with the work environment then the short term nature is not too burdensome for themselves or us. We have several ongoing volunteers who dao half a day or one day per week eg cleaning or reception. Occasionally when students join us they do so for a full time period, such as a summer holiday of a work placement. That then is 7 days a week, but generally their capability means they fit in well. One such person has been with us since Sept 06 for a year on work placement, full time.

In terms of an average number of hours per volunteer per month I would estimate the two days per week or 64 hours per month.

1.10 Significant achievements

Significant achievements outside of any mentioned in the above would be:

1) We now offer 11 of our weekly programmes to other stations for syndication. 17 programmes on other stations are now going out.

2) We are attempting a fundraising challenge to climb Ben Nevis in Sept 07. Some businesses have sponsored us including the local Regent Theatre and Victoria Hall, The Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Mapa Spontex UK a commercial hand protection company. We have over 15 climbers who are raising sponsorship. We plan to do a radio programme from the top of the mountain what will likely be the first Community radio programme from the summit!

3) We have started to offer a couple of Podcasts of two of our programmes which do not carry copyright music.

4) We have been offering support in our collaboration with Cross Rhythms Plymouth and Cross Rhythms Teesside. The launch of Cross Rhythms Plymouth in March took some effort on our behalf to support them and was a significant achievement from our part to help them get started.

1.11 Significant difficulties

As would be expected the main difficulties are all financial related. We have plenty of vision and feel we could be much more effective however we do all that we do with a very tight budget. We only have two full time employees who present shows – one who is also the CEO and the other who is the head of the production department.

We could better coordinate volunteers if we had the foundation of more employees to manage and develop them. Without them we are often playing catch up and spinning too many basic plates between us.

We have not been able to market the station in the last year at all due to lack of finance. The only marketing we can do would be through contra deals, going to events etc.

Having been one of the original pilot stations we have a perspective based on 5 years broadcasting in an area. We would feel that we now need to move up to a new level, because the expectations of listeners to the station grows. The original uniqueness and identity loses it’s originality after a while and listeners want more. To maintain listener connection we need to add more to what we have ie more presenters bringing more creativity, more awareness out in the wider community through participation in city initiatives etc. To do this properly, without running around like headless chickens, requires putting in solid management processes, requiring finance to do so.

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