Bro Radio’s road show  on Penarth Esplanade. Reception of the publicly-subsidised station in the town is patchy

The station-manager of the Bro Radio – the community radio station subsidised by Vale of Glamorgan Council-tax payers – has announced he is relinquishing his post.

Gareth Sweeney was in charge of Bro Radio and has been involved with the operation since it first went on the air in 2009.

The radio station – primarily funded by a  grant from the Vale Council – is based in Barry and reception of its signal in Penarth, Dinas Powys other areas of the Vale has always been patchy.

Mr Sweeney’s last show on Bro Radio will be today – because of an “already planned holiday” – and will continue as an unpaid director of the company.

The managing director of the station – Clive Silver – says “We would like to take this opportunity of thanking Gareth for the commitment and support he has given to Bro and wish him well in his new ventures.”

Broi Radio’s road show welcomes Stephen Doughty – Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth

Launched in 2009, ‘Bro Radio’ is in fact a private company called the Vale of Glamorgan Broadcasting Community Interest Company . Companies House records reveal it is  run by 3 current directors and has four shareholders – all of whom are private individuals . Twelve previous directors have resigned.

Although the station carries some advertising, the £24,000 a year grant it receives from the Vale Council continues to be a major source of the station’s income.

The station’s OFCOM licence-to-broadcast runs until 2019 . Its  £72,000 three-year deed-of-grant from the Vale of Glamorgan Council was renewed by the former Labour-controlled administration in 2015  and the now Conservative-controlled council is going to have to decide whether to renew it  next year – in 2018  .

Cllr Lis Burnett displaying Labour Party literature with former councillor Gwyn Roberts in 2014, posed for a photograph for Bro Radio on Penarth Esplanade

In 2015 Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour Stanwell) praised the station for getting “straightforward advice and information out there”. The fact that it was an “accessible station” – she said –  did not mean it was a “tame radio station where you get an easy ride”.

The station has been described as being  “half way between a charity and a business”. Additional income to supplement the council grant is derived from “fundraising, grants and sponsorship from some local businesses” . Apart from the salaried Station Manager post Bro Radio is staffed by unpaid volunteers, some of whom are disadvantaged or suffered from physical impairments.

Two years ago Bro Radio told Penarth Council  said it was hard to say what the audience size was. The station had not used RAJAR – the officially-recognised radio audience measurement system.

The OFCOM transmitter map for Bro Radio indicates that it doesn't cover Barry properly -let alone Penarth

The OFCOM transmitter map for Bro Radio indicates that it doesn’t cover all of Barry fully – and does not penetrate  Penarth

[PDN Note: Unlike other radio and tv broadcasters, there is no requirement on community radio stations to maintain political balance –  unless they have undertaken to do so in their licence applications . The House of Commons was told in 1986 that ” as the published guidance notes for prospective licensees make clear, there will be no obligation on them to balance programmes expressing political points of view.” However, as far as funding is concerned, Ofcom lays down that  “There must be no influence on the output of a service that is contrary to the public interest, including for political ends.” ]

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  1. Lucie says:

    I love bro radio,I will not be listening any more if DOUGHTY is on there as a Dj!

  2. Johnabutt says:

    Why is the Vale Council subsidising a service which is not accessible to everyone who lives in their area? They should insist they cover Penarth & Cowbridge or else stop funding this outfit.

  3. Peter says:

    Can’t say I have heard of it until now. A classic case of a waste of my Council Tax.

  4. The Milkmaid says:

    I’ve never heard of it either. In these days of limited budgets, I am sure there are other VoG Council operations that are higher up the pecking order for funding.
    Its is also time that BRO Radio came up with some audience figures. Where is the accountability for £74,000 of Council Tax money?
    Is it known if the VoG Council support any further community indulgencies?

  5. Big Davey says:

    This is ridiculous, why would you broadcast to only half a town from a bus when you could broadcast to the whole vale and beyond via the internet?

    Some joined up thinking very much lacking here again.

  6. Jean Thomas says:

    I think your readers should be made aware that apart from a salaried station manager and sales person, Bro radio is run by a band of volunteers at the Y.M.C.A. hub on Gladstone Road in Barry. And if your readers took time to listen to just one program from 10 a.m. – 12 a.m. they might just get an idea of what help and information this station gives out.

  7. Big Davey should really understand what he is talking about instead of talking about something that he has no idea about. Bro Radio does in fact cover the whole of the vale and is available worldwide via the internet and indeed regularly has listeners in Spain and the USA, and it certainly does not broadcast from a bus but from studios in the YMCA hub in Barry.

    • Big Davey says:

      Why do you need a grant and a bus then? Sounds like you can compete without it, not sure why the public should subsidise you, are you any different to any other commercial radio station?

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