Having dreamed of working in radio since she was a child, Sheila Vanloo snapped up the chance to volunteer at Radio St Austell Bay soon after it was founded, and has presented her own show on the station for more than ten years.
She’s convinced that the success of Cornish stations is a direct result of the open-heartedness of local people. “Cornwall has never lost its sense of community,” she explains. “Thousands of people across Cornwall are very community-minded. We’ve got a sense of belonging and a sense of caring for people and each other. And I think that matters.”
Sheila also highlights that the survival of community stations relies on the dedication of their volunteers. “None of us gets paid and none of us expects expenses,” she says. “So everything that we do is for love, for our community and for the station.”
The vast array of programmes that Radio St Austell Bay broadcasts is certainly impressive. They offer everything from hourly news bulletins and regular what’s on round-ups to live music sessions and an Arts show that promotes local writers, artists and performers.
And the station has grown a reputation as the first point of call for people who have mislaid their pets – once managing to reunite a family with their lost parakeet!
So, after years of experience in community radio, what words of advice can Sheila offer to people thinking of volunteering at their local station? “Oh, do it! Just go and do it! You’ll get so much out of it!’”
Ian Semple has volunteered at Coast FM since 2013 and presents a live music show every Saturday afternoon. He is keen to highlight the wide variety of specialist programmes that they broadcast across Penzance, St Just and West Penwith.
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