Disabled Wiganers are being given the chance to get on the airwaves with the launch of a new online community radio station.
Fusion Community Radio has been set up in Leigh as a spin-off from the hugely successful Fusion club nights run in the town for people with physical or learning disabilities.
The station, based in an office on Holden Road, currently broadcasts one live show a week and is open to anyone with a personal social care budget.
Run by DJ and former community radio presenter John White, the station has been set up in partnership with not-for-profit organisation Just BU and gives disabled Wigan residents the chance to learn new skills and build confidence through creating radio programmes and choosing music to play.
Station founder John said: “It’s a progressive step following on from the club night and it’s something we’ve had in the backs of our minds since quite early on in the project.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.
“I’ve been on community radio before and got people with disabilities and from minority groups involved, and it’s a great way to give communities the opportunity to air their voices.”
The station started just before Christmas and now has a live weekly programme on Thursdays, with John launching a Friday night show at the end of the month dedicated to dance music.
He is keen to increase the number of people working at Fusion Community Radio and stresses there are a variety of roles for people to take up, saying the station has already dramatically changed the lives of some people taking part.
John said: “We’ve got one person whose music knowledge is very good and across the board but who has had issues with nervousness about talking to people and lack of confidence.
“Since we started his confidence has built and now he chats to people on the phone, takes requests and reads them out and the two of us have even chatted on air.
“He’s made fantastic progress and we’re really pleased.
“He’s a good example of our aim, which is to build people’s confidence in what they do.
“There’s a lot of organising and research roles, looking for what we are going to talk about or which songs we are going to play, and it would be good to get people involved in promotion on social media.
“The main thing is it’s got to be user-led and tailored to each individual. Anybody with a personal budget is welcome to come along, see what we do and have a look at the equipment.
“It’s also about people coming together and having a fantastic time.”
John says the further growth of Fusion Community Radio will depend on sponsorship and funding but he is already hatching plans for the station’s further growth, based on making it a hub which supports organisations to get their messages across to the listening public.
He said: “The idea is that in a year or so we will be in a position to have community groups which could create shows for us to broadcast on board.
“There’s a lot of individuals doing fantastic jobs so we’re trying to get groups involved. We want them to have the chance to do live shows or pre-record broadcasts and get what they want to say out to the community.”
To find out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org, follow on Twitter @FusionCIC or visit www.fusioncommunityradio.com