About The Waltham Forest Community Radio Group
Most of the people involved in the Waltham Forest Community Radio Group met in 2012 on a course at Waltham Forest College (707 Forest Road, London E17 4JB) which was funded by Age UK Waltham Forest to train a group of older people in radio presenting skills. The course was run by the Community Radio group Streetlife Radio, which had operated a community radio station in Waltham Forest for some years, sometimes live on the Medium Waveband but more recently on the Internet. The idea was that the people trained by Streetlife would present a weekly programme on the station aimed at older people in the Borough.
However, shortly after we finished our course Streetlife Radio went silent. This was due to a number of factors such as a leading member of the Streetlife team moving out of the Borough and a forced shift of premises from the College to a building called Cyberlink on Beaumont Road, Leyton. Some meetings were held but broadcasts never started up again from this location.
This left us with some elementary presenting skills and an enthusiasm for broadcasting but no actual platform from which to do it. Our response was to start meeting independently in each other's houses and producing programmes using very basic home recording equipment (two microphones, a small mixer and a laptop, as well as a Sony mini voice recorder for vox pop and other interviews). At first our listeners were mainly our friends and neighbours and people we knew from clubs, societies and community centres like The Mill. From the outset we distributed our programmes on the Internet and by way of audio CDs which we recorded and duplicated on a home PC. We maintained the link with Age UK Waltham Forest, and a few programmes for the Age UK website were discussed and planned, as well as a possible collaboration with the Media Studies Department of George Monoux College, but as time went by and staff came and went, despite our efforts to keep the links alive, these proposals fizzled out.
Last year, along with some other community groups, we were given free hire of the Garden Room at The Mill and some modest funding for our activities. With this support we organised a number of sessions in which we recorded people's oral history and asked them to talk about some of the issues that concerned them, interspersed with people's choices of music and poetry. These sessions proved popular, and we distributed our programmes once again on the Internet and also by way of audio CDs given away free in The Mill and a number of sheltered accommodation units around the Borough.
This year (2015) The Mill has once again generously helped us to apply for a grant from Markhouse Ward Forum (a Waltham Forest Council organisation) and we have received funding to allow us to continue making programmes at The Mill for the rest of this year. We have purchased the Internet domain name MILLRADIO.COM and a year's hosting from someone who is no longer using it for her own group. This will make us much easier to find on the Internet and provide plenty of space for all our future programmes, activities and publicity.