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Black Cat Radio of St Neots ‘discovers’ listeners in Doncaster

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Earlier this month, LBC presenter Iain Dale showed his support for the community radio sector at the second UK Community Radio Network Conference, in Bedford.

During a session on stage, he said that “now is the time for significant investment into community radio stations, and more people should get involved as they are a vital cog in local communities.

“With the BBC cutting back and commercial radio becoming networks, there is a huge gap in the market.”

That rings true for our team at Black Cat Radio, based in St. Neots.

‘Catmobile’ at the Christmas Lights switch on in St Neots today

Founded by former BBC man, Tony Gillham, we have gone from strength to strength since starting our broadcasts on FM in 2017.

As more people are listening now to radio online, Black Cat Radio picks up listeners from far afield, indeed, in October, 35% of our online listeners were based outside of the UK.

Ste Greenall with Michael Murray: “Little did I realise that one year on, Mickey boy, who is retired and disabled, has built an audience of listeners who now enjoy a variety of Black Cat Radio’s output, in his hometown”

I have presented the weekday “Full English Breakfast Show” for over five and a half years and have observed the changes in radio in that time.

The breakfast show is a mixture of music, news both local and national, weather and travel bulletins. I have received nominations in the speech and journalism category of the Community Radio Awards three years on the run.

In the last twelve months, I have conducted over 350 chats with people from all walks of life.

Almost all of them are with groups from in and around St. Neots. The show has become a “go to” place for an organisation to publicise events or raise their profile.

Former mayor of St. Neots, Stephen Ferguson, nominated me for an award in the town.

His submission said: “We contend that no one has done more to champion community causes in St Neots than Ste Greenall during the past five years.”

Two lovely illustrations demonstrate how Black Cat Radio has been embraced by the community both locally and afar.


Ste Greenall with Beverley Jones

Jade Horton lost both of her children, three-year-old Isaac, and seven-year-old Sienna Jenkins, in a blaze at her St Neots’ home in December 2020.

She was told she had “life-changing” injuries after she jumped from a second-floor bedroom.

After I earned her confidence and respect, Jade revealed to me that “throughout my six-week stay in hospital I was told, that I would never walk again and I was told that several times and to get that in my head, that it would not happen.”

Letter of appreciation


Wooden pot made by 93-year-old “Uncle Peter”

Jade never accepted that fact and pushed herself daily with intense therapy, exercises, and physiotherapy.

Just three months later, she was able to walk with a Zimmer frame.

It is a matter of pride to me that Jade trusted me to deal with her story with empathy, and to date, I remain one of a very small number that she trusted with that story.

But beyond St. Neots, there are listeners who have embraced the very personal nature of Black Cat Radio.

In December last year, the station received an email from Michael Murray who signed himself “Mickey boy of Doncaster”.

Michael discovered Black Cat Radio after a search through a number of community radio stations throughout the UK.

I replied to him, given he had ‘found us’ from so far away, and invited him to take part in a programme over the phone.

He wrote back saying “thanks so much for dropping me a text in response to my email to your show. I am up for a natter on the phone next week. It would be great to speak to you.”

Little did I realise that one year on, “Mickey boy”, who is retired and disabled, has built an audience of listeners who now enjoy a variety of Black Cat Radio’s output, in his hometown.

I have received gifts from Michael and his friends over the course of the year; sweets, tea, and a hand-turned wooden pot from a 93-year-old with macular degeneration, plus a bottle of the local delicacy – Henderson’s Relish.

So, I felt I ought to drive up to pay the group a visit. I certainly was not prepared for the warm praise and heartfelt welcome, but even more humbled to be handed four boxes of gifts for other presenters and myself and my wife.

During the pandemic lockdowns, the team at Black Cat Radio came to realise what we had come to mean to people in our immediate area.

But little did we know that, as Michael Murray wrote “we are so pleased that we could show you how much you mean to us and how your amazing little radio station, along with you marvellous presenters, have helped us in ways that could never have been imagined”.

It makes volunteering and having high standards in broadcasting and running a small business, so very worthwhile.

Ste Greenall is a Director of Black Cat Radio and presents the weekday breakfast show.

Black Cat Radio broadcasts on 102.5 FM to St. Neots but also online and on smart speaker to anywhere in the world; including Doncaster!

 

 

 

 

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