Crystal FM Best Community Broadcaster Award

Wednesday March 27th 2024

CG with Colin McCall Crystal FM 22.03.24

Christine Grahame MSP with Colin McCall Crystal FM.

Christine Grahame MSP writes her monthly column for Midlothian View.

I had the pleasure of visiting Crystal FM recently. Indeed I will be leading a debate in Parliament this week on the success of the station winning the Best Community Broadcaster Award at the SME News Scotland Scottish Enterprise Awards for the second year running.

Launched on 1st December 2013 it is run by volunteers, broadcasting over South Midlothian, into Edinburgh and the Lothians, as well as to listeners all over the world via the internet. With over 50 presenters and information providers involved in its non-stop 24/7 output it is an important part of the community but depends on donations and subscriptions.

Simply to survive it has to raise £12,000 annually overcoming setbacks over the years: flooded studios, a move to temporary accommodation for a period of six months. Then Covid appeared requiring a move to other premises to ensure the studios were Covid Compliant. So the radio service was maintained meaning that youngsters from Penicuik High School and Beeslack High School, could continue to participate in the service gaining hands on experience in broadcasting, confidence levels and self-esteem.

Committed volunteers ensure the smooth running and scheduling of programmes, doing outreach work with individuals who are housebound and encouraging others to visit the studios to participate in discussion and learn new skills and have spells away from their home isolation.

Older members of the community enjoy the creation of their own shows and individuals with special needs are catered for including two with physical handicaps; onewho is autistic and one who suffers from Asperger’s.

But outlays are substantial: Over 10 years, Ofcom £6,000: Wireless and Telegraphy £2,500: Music licensing fees to PPL, PRS, MCPS £30000. VAT Payments made in excess of £25,360. VAT in particular is a cruel levy on this local service which is not a business and therefore cannot apply to be VAT registered. Though VAT is the reserve of Westminster, I intend to follow this up.

My best wishes to all who keep this ship afloat, Finally for more information just go onto their website.

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