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RADIO: We shall overcome

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Dear radio listener and online user,

There are profound changes to all our lives.

For those who usually listen to Andover Radio, we hope that you’ve noticed that aside from some minor changes, Andover’s local radio station simply continues.

The only radio station in and for Andover usually broadcasts from studios in Andover high street.  We closed those studios on Friday March 27th in anticipation of a ‘lockdown’. Moreover, we did this protect each and everyone of the more than forty people who are involved in our organisation. 

But that didn’t mean we would ‘shut up shop’… it meant we had to have some quick, clever thinking to increase our use of the technology available to us. 

Collectively, all our team felt it was essential to continue.

Our programmes remain predominantly entertainment-led.  We have, perhaps, adopted a wartime mentality.  If you can remember ‘Listen While You Work’ and ‘Workers’ Playtime’, you’ll understand our strategic thinking.

John Snagge was the voice of news on BBC radio in wartime Britain.  For many, he was the only way to get real-time news.  For the past three weeks, Andover Radio has adapted to deliver concise national news every hour, as well as extended local news content from 7:00am to 10:00pm. 

We take this view as, unlike during the second world war, today everyone has access to plentiful amounts of national news, so we keep it short and informative.

We do, however, carry an extended bulletin by a special agreement we have with the BBC in Southampton at 1:00pm lunchtimes and a ten-minute round-up of the day’s coronavirus news at 7:00pm every weekday evening.

We are very mindful of the vital role we play during this crisis, especially for more mature people in and around Andover. 

Many will not have access to the internet, many may not have the natural fake-news-gate that sifts out the endless nonsense and opinion we read on social media each day and any weekly newspaper is out of date by the time it lands on your doorstep.

As such, we are playing more songs from the 50s and 60s to entertain an older audience. But also because, and let’s be honest – it was an amazing time for music.

In amongst that music. we love promoting the brilliant work of brilliant people who do brilliant things around our town.  With Jason Briley from Springfield Close, we play ‘Just One Song’ at 11:00am each day to keep spirits up and get active (you must watch the video below!). 

Christianne Ireland lets us know each day of progress of the Unity Coronavirus Helpline and we are in hourly contact with the work of the Andover Isolation Help Group.

We loved getting nursing homes in Andover tuned-in to Maddison Douch’s beautiful ‘We’ll Meet Again’ tribute.  We love Teoni Randall’s video about coping with kids while you ‘Stay at home’.

With Steve Godwin at the Andover BID, we invite local businesses to use us to promote their work, or to pass messages to past or would-be customers.  We do this for free.

Andrew Middleton offers advice for people over the age of 50 on ‘thinking differently’ to improve their life and Adam Phillips (The Money Guy) is in constant contact with local businesses owners, offering advice on financial matters.

We give daily updates on pharmacy opening times and we really share the angst that some pharmacy staff feel on a daily basis.

We promote the endeavours of organisations like the Citizens Advice Bureau, Andover Mind and Unity.  And, we are delivering almost hourly ideas on ways to keep children occupied through ‘lockdown’ thanks to Sarah Gisbourne at Love Andover FamilyLife.

One of our remote studios is at the Andover Isolation Group, so we love sharing information about the amazing people who are using their natural skills to help those most in need.  Lily Ward from PurpleBricks is a perfect example; we call Lily and everyone working through this situation, ‘Lockdown Legends’.

We retain a deeply-felt obligation to share accurate, useful and ‘useable’ information. 

All of this carries the clear message, ‘Stay At Home’.

We really are working as hard as we possibly can, in these difficult circumstances, to continually ensure that you are able to read, listen and occasionally watch only confirmed and concise coronavirus information that matters to people who live, work and play in Andover, across all our platforms.

Our broadcasters, and those whose voices you will never hear, are using technology to work from home to keep the information flowing.

In fact, practically all our content contributors have had to adapt the way they work in a desperately short space of time, to make sure they deliver daily information to Andover in a way that’s safe.

Observing ‘social distancing’ rules we are always finding new and innovative ways to interviewing people and getting that local information out to our radio and online audiences. Yesterday we mounted a microphone to a garden rake to interview a ‘Lockdown Legend’.

One of our most interactive radio programmes is broadcast from the ‘Love Bus’, a single-decker bus which – under normal circumstances – would be out and about around the Test Valley helping engage with people to reduce a sense of isolation – something we are all feeling at the moment.

Andover Radio #LoveBus

Please remember, unlike the newspaper or any online blog, we are licensed by HM Government – we provide our service free of charge to the town and we do it under strict government legislation.  We are a not-for-profit organisation; there are no shareholders and there are no full-time paid members of staff.

Read more about our entire organisation here.

We do not and will not support or promote individuals or organisations that have an alternative self-aggrandisement agenda. Those people who are using this situation for their own personal, political or financial gain are not welcome.  This is why during this coronavirus situation we refuse to share content and information from people with an ulterior motive.

We will, however, continue to promote all that’s good in the people in our town.

Practically all of our income streams have all but disappeared.  We took the decision very early-on that “we are all in this together” so none of our local on-air advertisers will be charged for any of our marketing services. 

So yes, we are desperately worried about our own future.  Whereas some businesses may be able to claim many thousands of pounds in government funding because they are closed, we are unlikely to get anywhere near the amounts you may read about in the media… but regardless – but we will keep going.

‘This ain’t easy’… but over the coming weeks and months we promise to continue to work tirelessly to keep you entertained and bring you information in a timely, accurate manner.

It’s the daily influx of kind comments from listeners, local business owners and organisations that are spiritually and emotionally keeping us going at the moment.  For this, we thank you.

In amongst our ‘Just Great Songs All Lockdown Long’ format, we will continue to promote job vacancies through Judge Recruitment and those operative positions at the Co-op. Richard Hobbs continues to give only ‘essential travel’ messages each day and we are still running various competitions where you can win goodies.

We would love to hear your stories of adaptation, endeavour and hope.  We have a voicemail on 01264 883133 where you can leave a message to say thanks to others, send messages of love to your family, promote your organisation or share your thoughts.

We will always put the people of Andover at the heart of everything we do.

As we say practically every hour on 95.9FM Andover Radio, “Now’s the time to show how strong we are together Andover”.

Stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives.

David Harber,
Director, Andover Radio

PS. If you haven’t done this yet… you really should…

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