This islands station is in hot water with Ofcom this week, falling foul of the 50% limit on community station funding from commercial sources.

The station has “given Ofcom a number of concerns over the management of the station and its finances, particularly because despite repeated opportunities, the station has been unable to provide sufficient verifiable information regarding its finances to explain the figures in its annual report,” (from the Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin).

So does the station’s output make more sense than its accounts?

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

Logo for Super Station

WHO  Ryan Woodman, according to the website, but he doesn’t appear in this segment

WHAT  105.4 The Superstation Orkney

WHEN  18 December 2012


ADS: Highland Industrial Supplies/Sutherlands Pharmacy/Happy Haddock/Orkney Office Supplies

Sung ID: 105.4 The Super Station

Timbaland feat. Ne-Yo/Hands in the Air

ID: This is the Super Station

Stakka Bo/Here We Go


TOTH: Online, On your smartphone, and on 105.4 FM – this is the Superstation. News.

IRN: Vomiting bug/Comet/GOSH presents stolen/Cancer boy/Redundancy Notice cut/Queen at Cabinet


ID: (Santa VO) Christmas Time on the Super Station Orkney

Adele/Rolling in the Deep

Rob Thomas/Lonely No More

Aretha Franklin/Joy to the World


Serving island communities is a radio specialism. Great stations in different sectors get it so right – BBC Radio Guernsey, Channel 103, Radio Scilly. Here, the Super Station appears to be a commercial music station in community licence clothes.

In this twenty-minute listen, the only local voices were in the ads. The liners were mid-90s American VOs and other than IRN, there was no content at all.

It could be that great community work and social gain is happening off-air. Certainly on-air, and on the station website, there’s little evidence. The four news stories online are all national feeds from Sky. It can’t be easy serving an audience of just 20,000 people. But elsewhere, for example, Radio Scilly catalyses community cohesion, is massively popular, and generates enough revenue to survive on a tenth of that.

I’ve blogged about community radio before. There are as many models as there are stations and communities.

Reporting the Ofcom/Super Station story, BBC Radio Orkney quoted MD Dave Miller as saying ‘he’d asked Ofcom on a number of occasions to change their licence to a commercial one .. and that it was testament to the station’s professional sound and popularity that it had been able to survive without public money’.

That’s as maybe. It’s good that this is a popular service, and clearly filling a need. But is it right to obtain a licence for one kind of radio station, then once on-air, clamour for another one? Community Radio in the UK today is a fascinating and vibrant sector. Someone even wants to monetise it, reported Radio Today this week. Good luck with that one …

Stations like this need to make the good, popular and the popular, good. To navigate the licensing rules and deliver social gain, all while paying the bills.

As commercial local radio coalesces around national brands, and BBC Locals face cuts and networking, there is an opportunity here. But is there enough programming and management nous in the sector to capitalise on that and secure the future?

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