Croydon Radio was the first independent community radio station dedicated to the London Borough of Croydon. It was a popular, award winning station devised by Tim Longhurst and run with his school friend Tracey along with enthusiastic volunteers.
Croydon Radio first launched online in January 2011 with playlists, news and pre-recorded segments. It was a virtual station only at this time.
Following the 2011 August riots, there was a ground swell of pride in Croydon and a desire by many to help improve our community. A twitter meet up with Saif Bonar at the end of 2011 led to a dedicated studio space being commissioned in the soon to be built Matthews Yard.
This would transform Croydon Radio from a virtual set up to having a real, physical presence in the heart of our town. We took up the space at Matthews Yard in June and rented for over four years, the first group to establish itself in and commit financially to this new community venture.
Tracey and I formally launched the station and studio in June 2012 and set about recruiting local volunteers to present shows in a series of "Try out days". Our mission was to aid the regeneration effort and help restore pride in our town. The first live shows were broadcast in July.
From the beginning, Croydon Radio was about giving a new voice to Croydon; its people, businesses, causes and campaigns and shining a light on the things that we loved about Croydon, the things that frustrated us, made us excited for the future or proud of its people.
In five years, the station developed a wide range of community programming and garnered a large following of appreciative listeners. As well as talk, discussion, politics, poetry and debate, the station shared a vast quantity of new and unfamiliar music from local performers, independent artists and fledgling bands from around the UK and further afield.
Over 5,000 guests were featured, to raise awareness of good causes, advertise local events and performances, to promote services available to Croydon residents or to play live sessions for our listeners.
After nearly five years on air, Croydon Radio
- broadcast over 6,000 hours of live shows
- offered listen again and on-demand podcasts for every programme broadcast
- promoted over 6,000 independent musicians
- played more than 10,000 of their songs
- advertised 4,500 events
- amassed 15,000+ subscribers to our various communications
- averaged 1 Million social media impressions per month
- received 16,000 website visitors and 60,000 page views per week
- was heard by over a million listeners who listened to our shows, podcasts and WeLoveNewMusic submissions
Our presenters came from all corners of Croydon and beyond. Many stayed with the station throughout its time on air. Others moved on to bigger opportunities with the BBC and commercial radio as well as other stations both around the world and locally. I’m proud to say the station was a launch pad for many new broadcast and media careers.
Croydon Radio was a true community venture, supporting hundreds of local businesses, charitable campaigns, promoting causes and showcasing local musicians via our WeLoveNewMusic initiative.
The Croydon Radio Events Calendar was the borough’s first and most comprehensive guide to what's on in and around Croydon with daily and weekly email editions. It would inspire the launch of many other event listing sites. Our vast user-generated data was regularly re-used by the Council and other organisations in promoting events and showcasing the wide scope of activities available in our town.
The station was also heavily involved in promoting Croydon Council initiatives such as recycling, housing services, community programmes, mental health, youth activities, fostering and adoption. Our live broadcasts from the Townhall energised the Council into streaming their meetings via video.
Many new initiatives were launched by Croydon Radio volunteers as a result of their time on the station, including The Summer of Love Festival, CroydonFM, The TV Podcast and Saffron Central. Some presenters were also performers in their own right, putting on music shows, organising benefit concerts and comedy fundraisers, using Croydon Radio as a platform to provide promotion and coverage.
Croydon Radio was widely recognised as a best in class community station for its breadth of content, technical innovation and the extensive volunteering and community opportunities it provided.
The station was funded entirely by its founders and received no grants or gifts from any other organisations. Croydon Radio won a "meanwhile use" competition in 2014 with a cash prize intended to help us convert a local derelict property for studio use. Problems with accessibility meant we were unable to pursue our plan and the prize was never drawn down. It was shared amongst other winners in the competition.
Croydon Radio closed in 2017 as our rented studio space in Croydon Airport House was no longer available and nowhere else was able to house us. It's a shame that such a popular and innovative venture was scuppered by a simple lack of suitable accommodation, particularly in a town overflowing with empty offices and shuttered shops. An article in the Croydon Citizen captured the sentiment of listeners and presenters at the time of our closure.