Phonic FM Ofcom report 2010/11

Phonic FM Ofcom report 2010/11


Every year Phonic FM has to submit a report to Ofcom the regulatory authority for broadcasting. This is available for public scrutiny and comment. Any comments can be emailed to or posted below. Listeners can help shape what is broadcast by becoming involved in a number of ways, and we welcome any feedback about our programming.

This is a summary of the report submitted to OFCOM in June 2011. There are sections of the report which Exeter Community Radio, trading as, does not have to make public, and they have not been included in this summary.

1.1 The year in numbers
Please specify the station’s achievements in the 10/11 year in numbers as follows:
Average number of live hours per week
Average number of original programming hours per week
(This may include pre-recorded as well as live material but should not include repeats). 
The percentage of your live daytime output that is speech
Assuming ‘daytime’ to be 07.30 to 18.00 an average of 15%.
Number of people trained over the course of the year
Approximately 25, though needs vary from presenter to presenter
Number of volunteers involved over the course of the year
If appropriate, a list of languages you have broadcast in
English, German and Polish

1.2 Key commitments: Programming
Phonic FM will broadcast a range of arts and community-based programming for the Citizens of Exeter. The station will help promote the cultural vibrancy of the city and strengthen community links within it, as well as offer unique educational and training opportunities for a broad range of participants.

During the reporting year there was a marked increase in the number of groups and arts organisations wishing to participate in, and contribute to output on the station. This was particularly reflected in increased diversity in spoken word output illustrated by “The Widsmith and Deor present” show which examined a range of genres like storytelling and myth. “A Head of the Curve” demonstrated a willingness to become involved with philosophy and history, as well as encouraging and developing links with Exeter University.”The Barefoot Broadcast” involved the station with a diverse range of ‘alternative’ life styles and examined other sustainable life styles. There were also increased links with local organisations like “The Bike Shed Theatre” “Cygnet Theatre group” and the promoters at The Barnfield Theatre, who appreciated the opportunities for publicity and participation. Links with The City Council were cemented (against a background in which staffing and funding at the City Council were both substantially reduced) with undertaking its first ever ‘outside broadcast’ from Exeter Castle courtyard during the last night of the City Summer Festival. The station was also heavily involved in the “Exeter Respect” festival where in addition to a publicity presence; presenters were involved in presentation and organisation, reflected through the year in the “Future Sound of Exeter” programme

 With this increased activity, the need for a range of training opportunities also increased, and for the first time training was storyboarded and put onto video, whilst the amount of one- to –one help also increased with the growing diversity of needs within the broadcasting group. Rearrangements within the organisation of Exeter College have also provided opportunities for exploration of more formalised course training and experience for their students, and this work is ongoing.

 The station also organised and ran several successful promotions during the course of the year utilising both the building which the studios are located and also other local venues.

1.3 Key commitments: Social gain objectives
Social gain objectives (a) The provision of sound broadcasting services to individuals who are otherwise underserved. (b) will target listeners who are keen to hear alternative arts and local interest programming. (c) There will also be specialist programmes of interest to those who feel excluded from mainstream broadcasting, such as the local BME population any young people.
As outlined in 1.3 above Phonic has continued to provide widening opportunities for groups who might otherwise be unserved or underserved in the area. These include a show which is specifically aimed at wheelchair users [The Wheeley Wild Show] presented by the users themselves. Another show [Eye Life Show] is prepared and presented by a person with “locked in syndrome” who uses a voice synthesiser to produce his shows. (This received national coverage during the course of the year). There are other shows which target specific groups, such as the CSV shows which specifically highlights volunteering opportunities within the local area. There is also increasing use on air of recordings specifically recorded for the station by the adjacent “Sound Gallery Studios” who also provide the opportunity to broadcast ‘live’ from their from their studios. This has encouraged many local musicians who because of the nature of their music might not get broadcast exposure elsewhere.”Set the Scene” is a magazine programme specifically produced by young volunteers to highlight specific issues which concern them, and to promote activities that they are involved in. “Junction Poland” also provides a link with Exeter’s large Polish Community.”Big Wednesday” is a show for surfers, and covers issues like surf reports and matters concerned with surfing sub-culture.  Presenters of “The Future Sound of Exeter” are deeply involved in the organisation of the “Exeter Respect Festival” a two day event, and foster the stations ethos of encouraging access to broadcast by a wide range of groups.
“(b) the facilitation of discussion and the expression of opinion”
• The station will feature review and discussion programmes with the facility for listeners to telephone, email or write in. Some programmes will feature live phone-ins, providing the audience with access to immediate on-air discussion.
• There will be a forum on the station’s website with the facility for people to request music, provide topics for discussion and express opinions on and off air.
• There will be opportunities for the volunteers to produce shows expressing their views (within station guidelines). There will also be evaluation/feedback sheets enabling the volunteers to express their opinion about the station. These will be considered during the regular meetings between the station manager and the directors. has continued to provide a wide range of opportunities for listeners to contact the station and presenters. In addition to ‘phone ins’ there have been opportunities to contact individual presenters through various social media, or more directly by contacting ‘’ and information and comments gathered by this means is relayed to presenters by a dedicated e mail group. The website continued to be an important means of the transfer of information and comment. The number of ‘hits’ on the website continued to increase. Opportunities were presented during the year for volunteers and listeners to meet and exchange views, and there were numerous formal and informal forums which presented organisations and individuals to bring forward ideas for content and opinion.
“(c) the provision (whether by means of programmes included in the service or otherwise) or education or training to individuals not employed by the person providing the service”
• There will be in-house training for all volunteers wanting to produce and present shows. This will consist of hands-on use of studio equipment in the training and off-air production studio and observation, with the possibility of shadowing shows being broadcast.
• Links with Exeter College Media department have been established and opportunities to take accredited training modules directly linked to the station will be on offer. There will also be courses run in conjunction with the Media Centre at the Exeter Phoenix; it is envisaged that there will be around 10-15 in-house training places available per month with the possibility of more as the station develops.

As entered its third year on air, the training needs of both potential and active presenters increased and there were many more specific requests than was the case in the previous two years. As was noted elsewhere the reorganisation of the Board of Directors meant that this training could be better targeted to cater for both basic training and skilling longer term presenters. This has at times; together with increased broadcasting hours meant considerable pressure on studio 2. The links with Exeter College have continued to develop and should come to more formal links during the academic year 2011-2012. There have also been growing links with the University of Exeter.
“(d) the better understanding of the particular community and the strengthening of the links within it”
• The station will provide a platform for local arts, community and media groups.
• The station will strengthen links with the local community through communication and accessibility making itself available to the local community through a variety of means, including the website, email, telephone and open meetings.
• Phonic will participate in community events, including through the use of outside broadcasts.

As noted have extended and strengthened links with local arts groups, both in  formal and informal ways, as well as extending its reach during the course of the year to include visual arts, increased links with Exeter’s Festival, including the Vibraphonic, Summer and Autumn Festivals. In addition the year has seen the development of links with “Animated Exeter”, visual art through the Spacex Gallery and Double Elephant Print unit, as well as theatre through “The Bike Shed Theatre” and the Northcott Theatre. Demand for coverage of arts events increased, not only within the immediate broadcast area, but also, for example in the case of the Blues Shows” on a National Level, being chosen as one of the partners for the British Blues Awards. “Classical Journey” has brought a new audience to the station as demand for coverage of classical music, especially locally from choirs, events and festivals. Details of outside broadcasts are noted in 1.3.
Additional social gain objectives:
• The station will provide an important local outlet for raising the profile of the arts and publicising local festivals and events.

Through their involvement at the station, volunteers will be provided with firsthand radio experience and many transferable skills to further their employability and social skills.

 The sustained demand for involvement in the station indicates that it provides access to a range of transferrable skills which are valued not only by the volunteers themselves but also their employers- a notable local example being the Health Trust and other healthcare agencies who have noted improved skills in both clients and also their own staff who have volunteered. Demand for publicity of local arts events remains heavy.

1.4 Key commitments: Access and participation.
The station will feature review and discussion programmes with the facility for listeners to e mail, text or phone and to write in. Some programmes feature live phone ins providing the audience with the• The station will features review and discussion programmes with the facility for listeners to telephone email, text or phone the studio and to o write in. Some programmes feature live phone-ins, providing the audience with access to immediate on-air discussion.
• There is a dedicated e mail address and a forum on the station’s website with the facility for people to request music, provide topics for discussion and express opinions on and off air.
• There are opportunities for the volunteers to produce shows expressing
their views (within station guidelines). There are evaluation/feedback
sheets enabling the volunteers to express their opinion about the station. There are regular meetings between the presenters and manager and the directors. The provision (whether by means of programmes included in the service or
otherwise) or education or training to individuals not employed by the person
providing the service”.

As indicated in 1.3 there has been increasing pressure by individuals and groups to become involved in the programming and running of the station. This is encouraged, but has also provided occasions when organisations and individuals have asked for the right to reply, especially arising from views to programmes like “A perfect mess” where the presenter has expressed beliefs which have challenged ‘official’ views of certain topics. has embraced the right to reply. Presence at events like “The Respect Festival” has provided another opportunity to interact with its audience, and also to encourage a ready interchange of views and ideas. The Directors have readily embraced views and ideas suggested and instigated both by presenters and also persons not directly involved in the output.

1.5 Key commitments: Accountability to the target community
It is the characteristic of every community radio service that, in respect of the provision of that service, the person providing the service makes himself accountable to the community that the service is intended to serve.

During the reporting year, and as witnessed by the attached financial details, [one of the  sections completed but not put in the public domain] there was a considerable turnover of Directors. In part this was a result of the phenomenon noted in previous reports of the transitory nature of many presenters (in many cases presenters leave for periods to travel).However this was also a response to a report from the Steering group who indicated after several meetings that they felt that there should be a greater accountability within the Board, and the creation of specific roles attached to individual Directors. Thus the size of the Board and their roles was modified to reflect their requests. Other work to alter specific functions within the organisation were noted and acted upon. The Directors continued to have an opportunity to interact with the wider Arts Community in Exeter through the City Council led initiative Cultural Arts Partnership Exeter (CAPE) which provided an opportunity to discuss the specific roles that other organisations felt that could provide. There has also (as noted elsewhere) been a greater opportunity to interact with the University of Exeter Guild of Students, both formally and informally. Inevitably with a Higher Education Population approaching 17,000 and expected to grow to 23,000 over the next five years it is important to develop even stronger links with what is an important constituency as both listeners and participants.

Listener feedback through the use of social networking sites continues to be a useful source of comment, as well as regular respondents who feel able to leave messages on both our web site and also e mail addresses. The website has continued to go from strength to strength as a tool in delivering messages about our commitment to the arts scene in our local area.

1.7 Volunteer inputs.
Number of volunteers:
Circa 140

What roles are performed by volunteers? has no paid employees, and thus all services (except some core engineering functions) are performed by volunteers. This encompasses a spectrum of roles from studio cleaning to jingle production, from publicity to promotion and from presenter education to interaction with external organisations. Approximate number of hours worked on average per volunteer per week: This is not a static figure that can be easily quantified, it depends on what work is required. A probable estimate ranges from 20 to 4 hours a week per volunteer. Additional information: A notable feature of volunteer input for has been (and continues to be) the willingness to be involved, at times beyond what might be reasonably expected.
Significant achievements It is remarkable that has continued to expand its output, such that the expansion of live programming beyond 12 midnight continued during the reporting year. has also made good its strap line to be “Exeter’s Sound Alternative” and the “no adverts – no playlist” policy is appreciated by listeners who frequently comment on the diversity of the programming on offer. It was gratifying to be the subject of an article by Christian Brook in “The Times online” in which he suggested,” a community radio station called Phonic in Exeter, Devon, is ticking all the right boxes and is providing some of the most inspiring broadcasting in the country”. We were delighted to be involved at 2010’s Exeter’s “Respect Festival” attended by over 13,000 people, both by providing live music from our tent but also having presenters asked to compere on one of the main stages. This was followed by our first outside broadcast from the courtyard of Exeter Castle, where we provided four hours of diverse output as part of the last night of the Exeter Festival. The diversity of programming has been mentioned above, and the management has continued to receive ideas for innovative programming especially with regard to drama, spoken word and film making. The year also saw a continuation of production of a programme guide (self funding) which enabled the station to leaflet drop within the listening area, and also to take an active part in the Fresher’s Week events at both the University and Exeter College.(included with this submission).  The station was also able to support a range of events which took place beyond the notional FM coverage area; these included Sidmouth International Folk Week, Chagstock (a notable tie- in with ‘Water Aid’), the Ashburton Blues Festival and Teignmouth Jazz Festival. The station has continued to champion local live music, with a range of styles covered- and output has included in-studio sessions as well as pre recorded sessions especially recorded for shows.  The station’s website continues to be a leader in the provision of local arts news and information, and on-line listening has also increased with some distant pockets of listeners in countries like Turkey, Australia, Hong Kong and especially the United States.

1.9 Audience research.
There is little ‘hard’ data readily available, since the station is unable to sample in a coherent way, and cannot afford to employ the services of an organisation like RAJAR. Most of information available is gathered through sampling audiences for specific events, for example door exit samples from the 2010 Vibraphonic Festival, and written comments in log diaries left at other events in which the station has been involved. In addition there has been a steady growth in online listenership – sufficient to extend the availability of the service. There have also been attempts to sample through on-line questionnaires, as well as listener feedback through other sources like Facebook, the web-site and response to the info@ line of communication. There is considerable evidence that specialist shows connect with specific audiences who value the ability to listen to non-mainstream output.

There is also evidence a large and increasing student audience who value the wider publicity and exposure that Phonic can give to both student and more public events.