Today, a brand new board will be elected to govern Leith FM. An incredible group of qualified, experienced and local professionals will take over the reins of the radio station. This signals the start of the station really punching above its weight as a true asset to the community of Leith and North Edinburgh.
The reason for the community radio station’s troubles have been historical. Initially, it was a little 3 week radio station on a temporary license during the Leith Festival. This continued for a couple of years, long before full-time community radio licenses were being handed out by Ofcom. The radio was run with loads of great camaraderie by local enthusiasts as an unincorporated voluntary association with charitable status (SC038033).
In 2005, the law was changed to allow Ofcom to distribute 5 year community radio licenses to incorporated entities, ie. organisations that protected their member’s liability through incorporation with Companies House. The intrepid Leithers spotted the opportunity to make the station a 24/7 radio station for the benefit of the community and immediately registered a non-profit company limited by guarantee with Companies House.
Huge amounts of effort, time and money by many, many people was put into setting it up. When Leith Community Mediaworks Limited finally succeeded in obtaining the full-time license, on 26th March 2007, it was parties all round.
Awaz FM in Glasgow had been the only pilot radio station Ofcom had modelled, but Leith FM was one of the very first community radio stations in Scotland. Now, there are 20 licensed stations, some operating very effectively, some bankrupt and some hobbling along.
Leith FM grew phenomenally. Within a very short space of time, it was a 24/7 organisation run by volunteers, with a volunteer board and 160-odd members. Some with radio skills backgrounds through commercial, college, university, hospital and BBC radio background, some keen on developing it a true community asset with backgrounds in social gain and community outreach.
The unincorporated association – Leith Community Mediworks Association – was meant to have been dissolved as soon as the license was granted. But due to all the excitement of setting up the station – finding premises, equipment, key people, material, developing shows, inviting guests, it was not high on the priorities list. Meanwhile, the incorporated entity – Leith Community Mediaworks Limited – did not operate. Not a good move.
Then the shouting began.
To be continued …