SWANSEA SOUND, the independent local radio station which serves communities around Swansea and South West Wales, faces extinction.
The station’s owners, Bauer Media, plan to close the station’s Gowerton studios and transfer production to Manchester. Under the plan, programming would be centred in Manchester and the station’s local identity would be lost.
When it opened, in 1974, Swansea Sound was the first bilingual independent radio station in the UK. Its loss as a truly local broadcaster will add to the increased flight of local media to the control of distant corporations with no ties to the localities they are supposed to serve.
Swansea Sound is one of the oldest local commercial radio stations in the UK and the first and the last still broadcasting in Wales under its original name
Seventh on-air and almost 46 years old (start date September 30th 1974), it was part of the Independent Local Radio network under the watchful eye of the IBA (Independent Broadcast Authority)
It was created by a group of local business people, some from newspaper backgrounds.
It’s been a vital lifeline for community/local information especially during times of crisis and been a source of fun and community support through its roadshows (and their bus!) and charity work.
Programmes are still made by local staff who live in Swansea who know the makeup of the people.
It’s won many broadcasting awards for its innovative documentary programmes notably a Sony Award for “Aberfan -An Unknown Spring” in 1987 and a special award at the New York International Radio Festival for “Hooray for the Last Grand Adventure’” documenting Amelia Earhart’s 1928 flight to West Wales.
And now, cards on the table. This is a deeply personal story.
My late father, Lloyd Coles, joined Swansea Sound in early 1975 only a few months after it opened. Originally presenting the folk programme, for a time he presented separate folk and country music programmes, before becoming one of the UK’s foremost country music broadcasters and the winner of the International Country Music Broadcaster of the Year Award, presented as part of the annual CMA Awards.
The pay from Swansea Sound barely covered his expenses for making the journey from Pembrokeshire to Victoria Road, Gowerton. In the time before bypasses, road improvements and dual carriageways, the lights of his car illuminated the bends in the roads all-too-well for nervous front seat passengers. Those concerns weren’t eased by his habit of eating piping hot fish and chips from a precariously balanced wrapper perched in front of the steering wheel.
In the late 1970s, he walked from Pembroke Dock to Haverfordwest through snowdrifts which had paralysed the whole of south and west Wales to catch the milk train to Swansea and broadcast live and non-stop while the region was knee-deep in snow.
Back then, Swansea Sound was a lonely local voice, the echoes of which could barely be caught in South Pembrokeshire on a calm and still night. It was rooted in the area it served and the businesses advertising on it were cheerfully local and mundane. The presenters and freelancers (of which my father was one) didn’t get much for the efforts but they were all identifiably local voices, many of whom remain in the area long after they retired from the airwaves.
My father remained at Swansea Sound for over forty years. He didn’t retire and he wasn’t given the chance to say goodbye to his loyal listeners on air. Ill health overcame him. In those last years, he would struggle into a car – usually driven by a friend, my brother-in-law, and occasionally by me – and take his carefully handwritten scripts and CDs into the studio and broadcast live without giving a hint that his health was failing.
On one occasion, he turned over his car on the bends near Llanddowror. A fire crew cut him out and helped him through the car’s back window. The ambulance took him home, he then called my brother-in-law to make sure he got to the studio on time to make his broadcast live.
Local radio, local independent radio, commands that sort of loyalty from its presenters and its listeners. A lot of the voices aren’t as smooth and practised as the schmooze merchants on national radio – as the late Terry Wogan called them once ‘the anyhow brigade’.
‘That was Chaka Khan singing ‘I Feel for You’, which was written for her by Prince. Anyhow, here’s Simply Red…’
Local radio, the good stuff, is earthy and sometimes a little rough around the edges.
And now that is being lost in a sea of bland, one-size-fits-none, central programming.
Bizarrely, some of Bauer’s other stations in England will retain their local base. They offer – allegedly – more distinctive programming than the only independent radio station in Wales which remains true to its roots.
After almost half a century that would be disastrous for listeners, advertisers, local charities and decision-makers in area.
There’s a petition calling for the Welsh Government to step in – and it’s certainly something it should express a view upon – and another calling for Bauer Media to reverse its decision.
Both can be found online, at the Facebook page SAVE Swansea Sound and on change.org.
Global Litter Charity has announced the date of its next Welsh litter picking event
THE UOCEAN Project, part of the Vayyu Foundation, which has set itself the target of removing 1 billion kilos of waste from the world’s oceans by 2030, will be holding its next litter collection taskforce event at Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire.
Everyone is invited to join The UOcean Project volunteers and to make a difference by collecting litter, especially plastics, which are polluting our environment and ending up in the world’s oceans. The UOcean Project has highlighted the dramatic increase in litter from plastic bags to face masks since lockdown restrictions were lifted, making it even more important to clean-up and reduce waste pollution.
Chris Desai, head of The UOcean Project commented. “Picking up one plastic bottle or single use face mask may not appear to be significant, but at each event we are collecting many kilos of plastic because more and more individuals are joining our litter picking teams.
The combined collections here and overseas are the only way to make a difference and start fighting back against pollution.”
The UOcean Project organises litter pick-up teams who work across the UK, especially around coastlines, as well as internationally. By organising volunteers into Chapters and providing them with the tools and equipment to pick up litter, they have already collected 53,000 kilos of waste which would have ended up in the seas.
All volunteers are provided with the equipment needed to safely pick up litter so that it can be disposed of in the right way. For more information about The UOcean Project please go to the website www.theuoceanproject.com
Warning! Dangerous Valium circulating in Llanelli
Warning! Dangerous Valium circulating in
POLICE are warning drug users in Llanelli to take extra care following information received that dangerous valium is circulating in the area.
A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “We have reasons to believe that the drugs being distributed and used in the Llanelli area at present could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.
“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately should they become unwell.
“Please share this information with anyone that you believe could come into contact with these drugs.”
To seek advice and support, visit https://barod.cymru/where-to-get-help/west-wales-services/ddas-dyfed-drug-and-alcohol-service/
Please be aware that some services may operate an automated service outside office hours.
In an emergency, or if you think someone’s life is at risk, always dial 999.
Parents warned to look out for respiratory illness in children
RESPIRATORY Syncytial Virus (RSV) is circulating amongst children and toddlers in the Hywel Dda area (Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire)
Hywel Dda UHB Medical Director and Deputy Chief Executive Dr Philip Kloer said: “Because of the COVID restrictions, there have been few cases of RSV during the pandemic, but this virus has returned and in higher numbers now people are mixing more.
“RSV is a common respiratory illness which is usually picked up by children during the winter season, and causes very few problems to the majority of children. However, very young babies, particularly those born prematurely, and children with heart or lung conditions, can be seriously affected and it’s important that parents are aware of the actions to take.”
Parents are being encouraged to look out for symptoms of severe infection in at-risk children, including:
*a high temperature of 37.8°C or above (fever)
*a dry and persistent cough, difficulty feeding, rapid or noisy breathing (wheezing).
The best way to prevent RSV is to wash hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser regularly, dispose of used tissues correctly, and to keep surfaces clean and sanitised.
Most cases of bronchiolitis are not serious and clear up within 2 to 3 weeks, but you should contact your GP or call NHS 111 if:
- You are worried about your child.
- Your child has taken less than half their usual amount during the last two or three feeds, or they have had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more.
- Your child has a persistent high temperature of 37.8C or above.
- Your child seems very tired or irritable.
Dial 999 for an ambulance if:
- your baby is having difficulty breathing
- your baby’s tongue or lips are blue
- there are long pauses in your baby’s breathing
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