Several attempts had been made to secure a coveted community radio licence for Bolton but had been turned down by OFCOM but at last with a more business like application that made compelling reading we had achieved the licence that started it all.
I still have an invitation that went out for a Launch Party on the 13th of January 2009 which was sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Holiday Inn Town Centre and Carrs Pasties. This was to introduce Bolton FM to some of the key players in town and they all enjoyed a pasty and some nice wine. At the time we were broadcasting 7 days a week via the internet and we were working on going live later that year.
With a £60,000 hand out from the council we were able to buy the second hand equipment that we still have today and training had begun. Kevan Williams was Station Manager and I was Vice Chair and we are the only founding members still around today.
I remember the day we went live for the first time and we held a roadshow in Victoria Square with a van borrowed off the council and some banners that were still with wet paint. We had some pens and about 40 volunteers in Bolton FM tee shirts gave them to the interested public.
It was Saturday June 20th and it poured down all morning and Dorothy and myself got soaked to the skin putting up the banners. I think Kevan was having a staff meeting in the van with hot coffee and muffins !!
So HAPPY BIRTHDAY BOLTON FM, 11 years this Saturday broadcasting live to the Bolton public, from Bolton to Bolton and about Bolton.
We have certainly moved on a pace since then and whilst we know there are lots of ways we can improve further we must not forget how well we have done to get where we are today and everyone involved should be justifiably proud.
Winning the Queens Award was a highlight and I was proud to represent the station at the Queens Garden Party at Buckingham Palace and later that summer we took along 10 of the team for a special presentation at Gorton Monastery.
This year we have seen more changes and success, the new aerial has made such a difference and it was a personal target of mine to achieve this as OFCOM will testify, we made so many efforts over 5 years to extend our TSA and increase the power so we could reach all parts of the Bolton Borough. So many emails and phone calls to the powers that be until we managed to find a site that satisfied everyone on Dove Mill and we have made some good friends there at the same time. We were even mentioned in parliament by the speaker of the house Andrea Leadsom who in response to our local MP Chris Greens question about when would OFCOM allow Bolton FM to extend its TSA she said ' I'm sure all my honorable colleagues in the house of commons would like to be listening to Bolton FM.!!'
Last week we achieved another milestone with a new internet system that will not only help us with our remote broadcasting during the Covid 19 pandemic but help us broadcast with a much improved quality of programmes.
Talking of the pandemic we have worked wonders with some fancy technology but also a huge amount of effort and enthusiasm and managed to maintain our programmes throughout playing a very important role working with all agencies across the town to communicate campaigns for the NHS and Council and Government. I can assure you that our presence in Bolton during this time has been very much appreciated and valued by all concerned.
More changes on the way as we are currently negotiating with BWFC to manage the coverage of matches home and away again for next season for our local club which gave us a huge boost in listeners last year and part of this year until it had to stop.
Thanks everyone for all of your efforts and I know many of you are looking forward to our gradual return to the studios from July 4th and it is really important that everyone follows the rules we have set up to manage this resumption in a safe way.
Celebrate our birthday this Saturday in the knowledge that despite all the challenges in the economy we are in a good place and aware that more changes are needed as we respond to some of the changes taking place in the industry.
My very best wishes to all our volunteers and keep up the great work.