Launched by drag queens and newscasters, Surrey Hills Radio is the latest community-internet hybrid station to launch. We listened in.

WHO   Dave and Andy

WHAT   Surrey Hills Community Radio

WHEN   0800, Wednesday 25 June

Listened In is 2ZY’s regular air-check blog, where we listen to a random twenty minute sample of a station or programme in the news.

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ID: You’re listening to Dave and Andy on the Breakfast Show from Surrey Hills Radio

“Hello you’re listening to Dave and Andy. We’re gonna kick off with Aztec Camera”

Good Morning Britain/Aztec Camera

Andy back announces the song. “Well here we are again. It’s Wednesday. It is Wednesday isn’t it?” “Banter” about how it should be Friday. “That’s Aztec Camera, fast becoming our theme tune which is appropriate. They had two big hits Good Morning Britain and Somewhere in My Heart.” Dave’s not convinced. “I don’t like them, they’re boring. What about Fantastic Day or Mr Blue Sky as it’s such a beautiful morning?” Rambling about Dave’s late night. Andy was in bed before ten. “Anyway let’s start off with a birthday. Harold Melvin, sadly not with us any more, born this day in 1939. Remember him with his Blue Notes?” “Bit before my time, mate,” says Andy.”Think I heard this in a supermarket once.”

Don’t Leave Me This Way/Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.

“OK, Don’t Leave me This Way, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, with the original – also covered by The Communards in 1986 for all those people thinking ‘who did that?’ “It’s like Dire Straits,” suggests Dave. “It builds up to a crescendo.” “Sounds like supermarket music at the start,” though, thinks Andy. They talk about how there were lots of different Bluenotes. “Never used to happen in the 60s  .. Cliff Richard and Shadows, Brian Pool and Tremeloes.” They talk about Hank Marvin too and how his PR woman was on air with them a while back. “We’ll take the birthdays and throughout the next 15 mins.”

“Don’t forget our guest talking about her book launch.” I couldn’t make out through the over-talking the name of the book, but I think it’s about cycling in France. “It won’t be a recorded interview, it will be live.” “Her event will be on Friday. When’s it on? Can’t read it. It’s in Reigate anyway.” Eventually they remember her name and say she’ll be on later.

“Yesterday, we had a special guest David Munro, the chairman of Surrey County Council, which we’ll air on Friday.” There’s some chat about presenter Dave leaving a tap running and needing to leave the studio before the station floods. “Eddie Floyd born this day in 1937 and still with us. Interesting .. funny when I say interesting, as it’s usually really boring. Some people say he was born in 1935,” he says before he goes.

ID: Wake Up in the Morning with Dave and Andy

Knock on Wood/Eddie Floyd

The Power of Love/Huey Lewis

SUMMARY

In a cardboard box at home, I have a cassette. The 17 year old me wrote XMAS EVE RADIO FRIMLEY PARK 1985 on it. I think that’s the oldest surviving bit of me on the ‘radio’, if you can call a closed-circuit system through clapped out, earwaxy headphones, radio. My point being, when I was getting into this business, my (probably appalling) efforts were only available to you to hear if you were unfortunate enough to be admitted to hospital. 29 years later, everyone can hear everything. I’ve written before about community radio – and the balance of audience service vs volunteer enrichment. And now spectrum’s becoming scarce, and the gear needed to get “on air” continues to fall in price, we’re seeing a spattering of local, internet-delivered ‘community’ stations.

Surrey Hills Radio is one of these. Based in the East Surrey centre of deprivation that is Leatherhead, and billed as ‘a great new service to showcase all that is great in Surrey by the people who live there’, it was officially opened by newscaster Nicholas Owen on 6 June. Dave and Andy run the station. Andy told the local paper, “”We are both novices so anything could happen. That’s the beauty of community radio – it won’t be as polished as some of the big stations but it will be real, relevant and presented by regular locals.”

Certainly on this 20 minute listen, there’s evidence of an attempt at content – the council guy, the book woman – even if it’s not exactly being sold to the listener very effectively. I wonder though how many generations more we have to endure those tired old things we all did when we started (thinking back to that 1985 cassette!) Are they a necessary part of the process, the caterpillar before the butterfly?

Stations like this one have done the easy stuff – premises, kit, launch party cupcakes. Delivering on their promise of relevant, local, popular content, week in, week out …? That’s the tough bit. (Oh, and Aztec Camera had 6 top 40 songs, by the way.)

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to radiotoday.co.uk/eradio

 

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