2008 Annual Report

1.1 Community Radio Annual Report Form: Year Ending 30 April 2008

Station details

Licence Number

Station Name
Cross Rhythms City Radio

Launch Date

Web address where you will publish this report

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 to 25% speech ratio.

2) The music we play is virtually always by Christian artists (99%), whether in the mainstream, independent or in the so called Christian industry. We regularly receive feedback from listeners as to the value of the positive lyrics to their lives. Having been running for 6 years now, since the original pilot scheme we have established many programmes including 11 specialist shows that we produce and syndicate to other stations worldwide, shows such as The Rock & Hard Place (Rock), Soulcure (Urban), Street Flava (Hip Hop), Shekinah Reggae Show (Reggae), Independents Day (Indie Artists), Profile Special (Interview based music profile), CR Top Ten (chart show), CR Experience (flagship programme), and three youth targeted music and Christian teaching shows: Audacious, RockNations and Theshowwithnoname. We hafve maintained these throughout the year and seen 26 different stations worldwide pick them up. 8 of these shows are produced/presenters by volunteers who also promote their shows through their own networks/databases/events. We continue to supply specifically worship music for one and a half hours each day and in April 2008 we launched a brand new weekly 2 hour worship and prayer programme (Tues 10pm to midnight) called Breakthrough Nights. This programme is produced in partnershipwith certain local churches, the Beacon House Of Prayer, City Vision Ministries and The Saltbox. Additionally the first Friday of each month we run a live 3 hour prayer programme from Midnight to 3am called Britain Prays. In addition to these programmes we run the daily ‘staple diet’ of traditional breakfast, morning, drive and early evening shows, all of which carry a variety of styles of Christian music – rock, pop, hip hop, R&B, urban, soul, rap etc.

3) Our speech output is predominantly interviews which come up in pretty much all our programmes. These interviews cover information and relevance for the local Christian community and for the wider community. We run IRN news on the hour, plus we produce a local news slot every hour between 7:30am and 5:30pm. We present travel updates during breakfast and drive, and weather forecasts each hour. We run hourly social and spiritual comments (1 minute features). Audience interaction comes through emails, text messages, phone calls and through our online Live Radio Chatroom.

4) We still broadcast in English. Our exploration into doing a French language programme has not materialised as yet.

5) We have maintained 13 hours live programming for weekdays, plus 4 hours live on a Saturday. With the addition of the Breakthrough Nights weekly 2 hour show we now do 15 hours on a Tuesday and our goal is develop programming to hit our 15 hour target for each weekday. The average number of live hours each month, based on a 30 day month, is 315. This excludes the recent addition of Breakthrough Nights and any outside broadcasts we have run during weekends or late evenings. As mentioned in last year’s report we no longer take the sustaining service from our former satellite radio 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.

Our provision for the Christian community of Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme over the last year includes:

1) Our continuous Christian music output.

2) Hourly social and spiritual 1 minute thoughts

3) Daily short morning feature sharing individual life stories of faith

4) A re-run of our Silverliners feature with interviews with local older Christians over 75

5) Each weekday we ran a ‘Thought For the Day’ with local church leaders. This slot we ‘rested’ at the end of 2007

6) Our Verticality worship programmes provide contemporary worship music connect with younger Christians as well as old

7) 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).

8) The new Breakthrough Nights programme brings worship and prayer focus from church leaders to the city.

9) Daily we profile local events relevant to Christians in our Event Guide

10) We also attend some local events to run interviews, such as at the Community Fun Day in Silverdale

11) We partnered with a ‘churches together’ worship day called Embrace, and ran relevant worship music throughout the day along with interviews and prayers

12) We partnered with a ‘churches together’ month of prayer providing daily updates of churches participating. A second period lasted 40 days.

13) We run daily interviews with relevant Christian artists, leaders, individuals, organisations and events, both local and wider afield, examples include artists such as Rick Wakeman, Jars Of Clay, Jaci Velasquez, Cross Movement, Burn Band, Johnny Parks and hundreds more; leaders such as Mal Fletcher, Mike Pilivacci, Lloyd Cooke, Robert Mountford and loads more; organisations such as Soul In The City, Shakedown Dance and events such as Chris Tomlin at the Victoria Hall, Resolution New Year’s Eve and numerous others.

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 fortnight we run the Mayor On Air update from the Elected Mayor of Stoke-On-Trent Mark Meredith, inviting opportunity for people to email or phone in questions. We are also setting up a monthly slot with the Chief Superintendent for the local Police, Jane Sawyers. We also regularly touch base with North Staffs Asperger & Autism Association, Groundwork (local redevelopment agency); Staffs Fire & Rescue; Citizen’s Advice Bureau; Learning & Skills Council; Stoke Young People’s and Children’s Services including Safeguarding Children and the Young People’s Drug Project (both of whom we assisted with training and support in media skills projects), Stoke Council City Events Team (including being one of the partners and judges for the annual Citizen’s of The Year Awards. This year we sponsored the NS Young Carers Award), Regent Theatre & Victoria Hall (local venues); Media Action Group For Mental Health (including profile of their annual Sanity Fair. This year we also taught for their Talkback Training Course), Planet Sound (including profile of their annual Carnival), North Staffs Regeneration Zone, Renew North Staffordshire; YMCA, HM Revenue & Customs, INSTAFFS (Inward business development), Voluntary Action, Business Brokers, Local Strategic Partnership.

There are numerous one off guests. Some examples include: Chris Sims (the new Chief Constable for Staffs Police), City Music School, Stoke On Trent Primary Care Trust, Potteries Housing Association, Safer Cities Partnership, North Staffs Youth For Christ, AXiS Mentoring, Age Concern, Youth Offending Services Stoke on Trent College, St Teresa’s School Choir, Airspace contemporary art gallery, Creative Partnership, Cool Stoke, Stoke-on-Trent Gospel Choir, Fire Cadets, Spitfire Day, Heritage Country Park, Operation Good Guy, Parking Changes, Park Improvements, Christmas Lights Switch On with City Centre manager, Continental market, Gladstone Pottery workshops, Keele University poetry, Joan Ruddock MP on Carbon Footprints, Beat The Cold, Free School Meals project. Plus lots of local businesses come on like Vesuvius, Platinum Healthcare, Radical Press, Hosting Systems, Aquila Way and others. We try to help small to medium size businesses with some profile.

Specifically, starting in January 2008 we ran a series of themed months under the heading City Focus. The themes for the first 6 months are/were Older People, Homelessness, Mental Health & Wellbeing, Younger People, Drug & Alcohol Addiction, Crime. Every weekday for each month we ran a new interview with an individual, organisation or group working in that specific theme. For example in Homelessness month we worked with these organisations: YMCA, Arch North Staffs, Salvation Army, Local Authority, Blue Mountain, CAB, VIP, Gingerbread, Brighter Futures, Chaplains Project.

Future partnerships we are now organising include: ‘Creative Communities’ - lecturers from Staffordshire University Creative Communities Unit have agreed to provide a monthly slot promoting community engagement, empowerment, partnership working etc and the short courses they offer in equipping people in these skills. And, ‘Connexions’ - Partnership with Connexions sharing a weekly slot of different career opportunities and tips on CV writing, interviews, presentation skills etc so that young people and adults can engage in training, education and employment.

2) Much of the specifically Christian content is covered under point 2.3, but other output includes regular interviews with groups such as 2C7 (local network of Church leaders), City Vision Ministries, VIP (organisation involved with marginalised young people), Saltbox (a networking organisation between the church and the wider community), and local church leaders. We look at how the local church should respond to local issues such as homelessness, mental health, asylum seekers, youth work, addictions, and engagement with the wider community. We were able to major on this during our City focus themed months too, bringing a mix of specifically Christian worldview to these topics alongside wider services and opinions. 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 Media Watch (Christian group concerned about values within the media). 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 also ran a piece looking at the troubles in Zimbabwe. We regularly interview aid organisations such as Christian Aid, Tear Fund and Christians In Action. We also 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 primarily local schools and the two local universities Keele and Staffordshire. In the last year one student who was with us for a full year we have taken on as a full time employee. We have had a number of university students working with us on production, interviewing and presentation skills. Out of this a partnership has developed with Keele University whereby their media department has asked us to be the sponsor of the yearly ‘best student’ award. We have agreed. In addition to university students we see many young and older people join us at a voluntary/work experience level, many are unemployed, some from the local YMCA, some through providers such as Connexions. We have taken on those with special needs, asylum seekers and one man coming off heroin addiction. We also receive a lot of students who want to interview us as a part of their coursework, both for audio and film. Excitingly our plans to set up a specific Media Training Academy in our building in the city is moving forward. We have now secured an accommodation facility, we have decorated the proposed training rooms, we have secured the services of up to twelve qualified and experienced professionals who would provide teaching sessions, and we have announced dates for 2009 when students can join us. We will also work with an accredited course provider. There are several purposes to the Academy 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) to be 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 and Cross Rhythms Plymouth) can come and be trained in the various radio skills required, and learn hands on 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 in September-December 2007 this began when the station manager at Cross Rhythms Teesside joined us to get up to speed.

2) We continue to work with local groups for training purposes. This year has included: a) Young People’s Drug Project feature – We partnered with the city council’s Young People’s Drug Project. They work to educate youngsters about the dangers and drugs and support people experiencing drug and alcohol problems. We trained two of the young people to record a feature about drugs and alcohol. It involved them recording vox pops on the streets of the city centre. We worked with them to edit the feature together; b) VIP - from October 1st 2007 a monthly radio show called VIP was launched. 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), 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. The VIP radio show gives a voice for the marginalised and homeless in the city. Each show has 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; c) Safeguarding Children – We partnered with the council’s Children’s and Young People’s Services, working with six of their team to produce audio presentations about the plight of vulnerable children; d) Media Action Group For Mental Health – we supported them in their Talkback Training Course, offering on air experience and seminar training about the use of local media.

0.2 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.

Many of these types of events that we promote have been touched on elsewhere, for example our involvement in the Citizen’s Of The Year Awards, profiling and working with the local council to promote the Christmas Lights Switch On, their Continental Market and Streets Alive initiatives too. We get behind the local Planet Sound Carnival and summer festivals and we profile local productions at the theatres. We are also members of the local Cultural Quarter Group and we profile events taking place in this area. We raise awareness of local community initiatives such as the council and Police initiative ‘Respect Weeks’.

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 and 40 Days of Prayer & Fasting – 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. For the second period we launched a new worship and prayer programme to go alongside it called Breakthrough Nights.

2) Live OB’s from youth events in Sheffield (Audacious) and Bradford (RockNations) have been of particular interest to local young Christians.

3) Resolution – A New Year’s Eve event we partnered with

4) YFriday & Chris Tomlin – We support and partner with various music events in the city. The two artists mentioned in this point being the most significant. Each event saw about 400-500 people at them.

5) 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, and often interviews the main leader of it before hand.

0.3 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) For our employees most training and equipping for their roles is delivered in house. Where required we would happily send them to outside courses. One instanced of this over the last year was when our accountant went on a fundraising course.

2) We consistently have between 20 and 25 volunteers at any one time. In the last year we have had 38 different volunteers work with us.

3) We maintain connections with the organisations listed. We cannot respond to the level of interest in people joining us however. Our goal for school work experience students for example is to take on one young person at a time. For people with a longer commitment than a one week work experience as we build them into the team and they get trained up then we can take on extra people.

4) We run a radio advert for volunteers which goes out several times a day. Many of our volunteers enquire because of this. Additionally if we have room for more volunteers we use our monthly local email newsletter to mention it. We also work with larger groups of people to get involved with certain shows. For example schools and youth groups occasionally bring in their students to take part in live programmes.

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

0.4 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. As well as the monthly leaders meeting, we are active participants in a monthly combined churches meeting and we are a part of a group 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 as a valued participant. In early 2008 we feed back to the local Deanery Synod.

2) A number of our employees have spoken at their local churches, giving updates on the station and being available for feedback. The CEO continues to meet with many local church leaders in the city to get their specific feedback on how they see the station and effective partnership with it. The CEO speaks regularly at local church meetings. We also 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. We also ask for feedback from those listening online and in our chatroom. Every quarter we write to any financial supporters with an update and offering them opportunity to make contact. We regularly ask for feedback on our monthly or bimonthly email newsletters (we have different versions).

3) We have not yet issued a specific audience questionnaire for 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

0.5 Volunteer inputs

As mentioned over the year we have had 38 different volunteers with about 20-25 active volunteers in any quarter.

Of those 38 the breakdown of their primary roles is as follows:

On Air Presenters 5
Off Air Production 8
Editorial Dept for website 7
Cleaning/Odd jobs 2
Marketing 2

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 do 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 or a work placement. That then is 7 days a week, but generally their capability means they fit in well.

In terms of an average number of hours per volunteer per month we would estimate one day per week or 32 hours per month.

0.6 Significant achievements

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

1) We continue to offer 11 of our weekly programmes to other stations for syndication. This has increased to 22 stations taking our programmes around the world.

2) In September we ran a fundraising challenge to climb Ben Nevis and to run a live broadcast from the summit. Remarkably we succeeded! We raised over £20,000 and the subsequent broadcast won a CBC radio award. We had 21 climbers who raised sponsorship. Was this the first Community radio programme from the summit?!

3) We also won a CBC radio award for Best Podcast for our Theshowwithnoname podcast.

4) We have continued our collaboration with Cross Rhythms Plymouth, Cross Rhythms Teesside and more recently Cross Rhythms Coventry. The launch of Cross Rhythms Teeside in April 2008 took some effort on our behalf to support them and was a significant achievement from our part to help them get started. The award of a licence to Coventry was a highlight.

5) In November 2007 we supported a team in Coventry for an RSL called Radio Hope. These guys are behind the CR Coventry licence.

6) After 6 years we produced a new station imaging package.

0.7 Significant difficulties

In last year’s report we wrote the following:

“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.”

I would say this year we have inched forward a little from this position but the financial restrictions, inability to do much marketing, and a recognition that we need to keep developing our output, remain our greatest difficulties. Saying that we are hopeful!

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