GTFM was established in 1999 by the Glyntaff Tenants & Residents Association in Pontypridd, as a community project working with local radio enthusiasts led by founding Station Manager Andrew Jones (who remained in charge of the station until April 2007). The original broadcasts in 1999 & 2000 lasted for one month at a time under Restricted Broadcast Licences (RSL’s) issued by the Radio Authority.
In 2001 GTFM was chosen as one of 15 groups around the UK (and the only one in Wales) to take part in an initial year long Government pilot project, organised via the Radio Authority, to see if it was feasible to set up ‘Access Radio’ on a permanent basis.
This scheme allowed GTFM to commence full-time broadcasting for the first time from a transmitter on the ridge above Upper Boat on a ‘temporary’ FM frequency (106.9). This extended coverage well beyond that of the original Rhydyfelin RSL broadcasts, although parts of North East Pontypridd and communities along the Taff and lower Rhondda valleys to the north and west of the town still received a poor signal. This service was provided in close association with the University of Glamorgan which provided virtually all weekday evening output from its own local studios.
The University has a strong track record in running Media courses and had first ventured into the world of “live” Radio in 1999 and 2001 by involving students, local school pupils and other young people in RSL broadcasts under station name “Fusion”, winning two BBC Radio 1 awards for excellence in student radio. The Access Radio pilot period was subsequently extended to allow incoming telecoms and broadcasting regulator Ofcom to properly assess it.
ACCESS RADIO IS RE-NAMED COMMUNITY RADIO
Following their full evaluation of the Access Radio experiment and consequent new broadcasting legislation, new media regulator Ofcom began licensing Community Radio across the UK and GTFM became the first such station in Wales!
The essential differences between Community Radio and other types of radio are:-
* It is run on a not for profit basis
* It champions volunteering in the community (many of its presenters and off-air helpers are volunteers who receive training in essential skills)
* Individuals and community groups are actively encouraged to take a role in the station to ensure it succeeds in its objective to stimulate community development and capacity building.
Alongside these serious intentions however, GTFM is fun to listen to and our programme schedule includes many types of music, local news and features on topical issues in order to provide the broadest possible mix of information and entertainment.
NEW TRANSMITTER SITE AND FREQUENCY REQUIRED
A requirement of GTFM’s new Ofcom Community Radio licence was to move its transmitter to somewhere where it would provide a better signal in the Pontypridd area and less over-spill reception some way from the town (at the time it was audible as far away as Bristol). Ofcom also wished to re-claim GTFM’s ‘temporary’ frequency (106.9), which by then it had occupied for five years, for a new regional commercial station (which eventually opened on 106.8). GTFM therefore volunteered to move to 107.9, a frequency it now shares with ‘The Breeze’ a commercial local station based in Bath. GTFM’s transmissions were switched to their new mast location and frequency in summer 2007.
New locations reached by GTFM on 107.9 included Cilfynydd, Glyncoch, Abercynon, Porth, Tonypandy and surrounding parts of the Rhondda Valleys. The station can also be heard more patchily in other Rhondda locations including parts of Treorchy, plus parts of the Cynon Valley around Mountain Ash and Aberdare. Meanwhile reception is generally strong in the Taffs Well and Llantrisant areas, plus parts of the Vale of Glamorgan including a stretch of the M4 between Junction 33 and 36, plus central Cardiff and Cardiff Bay.
Since late 2007 GTFM has also been pleased to provide local news bulletins to the on-line stations originally set up by Andrew Jones for Communities at One in Treherbert and Penywaun (Dapper FM). The one in Treherbert has since changed its name from Radio Cymni to Rhondda Radio.
HOW GTFM IS RUN
GTFM operates as an independent not-for-profit company (company registration number 4874619), which is also a registered charity (registered charity number 1111030). Its affairs are regulated by a committee of voluntary Trustees who have complimentary experience.
The current Management Committee (all of whom live within GTFM’s broadcast area) are;
- Phil Rickards (Chair)
- Joan Smart
- David Arthur
The station is run on a day-to-day basis by a Station Manager (Terry Mann since April 2007) assisted by Promotions Manager Gavin Powell.
Additionally, GTFM maintains a working relationship with The University of South Wales which employs a Community Radio Tutor (Steve Johnson) who oversees production of ‘The Cardiff City Phone-In’ (Fri 7-8pm during the football season).
All other output originally produced locally at the University studios was transferred to our main Pinewood Avenue base in two phases, the majority in August 2007 and the remainder in August 2009, following transfer of the University’s Creative Industries faculty to its new Atrium building in Cardiff.
Around 45 volunteers (out of a pool of around 60) are actively involved in GTFM output on an average week. Volunteer broadcasters present all of our regular programmes including a wide variety of specialist interest music/talk programmes which are broadcast in the evening and at weekends. (Terry Mann and Gavin Powell also present programmes in addition to their management roles). Volunteers are also involved in production, research and administration.
Previous GTFM volunteers have gone on to have successful careers in the BBC and commercial radio, though the majority are local residents who simply want to make a contribution to the community in which they live through their involvement with the station.
GTFM has a loyal audience which seems to grow by the day. Recent (2013) audience research shows the station is No1 in the CF37 postcode area can be accessed via the ‘Advertising’ Tab above.
A previous survey conducted in 2005 estimated weekly listenership to already be 27% of local residents, which was very encouraging as it meant that three years after its launch on a full time basis GTFM had the second largest radio audience in the area with only Cardiff-based Red Dragon FM a little ahead of it. Since mid-2007, we’ve also heard from many new listeners in local communities now receiving a much stronger signal on 107.9 than previously on 106.9 (as detailed above), with others inspired to join us when commercial local station for the Heads of the Valleys, Valleys Radio closed, Red Dragon became Capital FM and more recently Real Radio became Heart.
So, although we recognise Community Radio is more about making a positive contribution to local life than chasing ratings, we also believe that if lots of people enjoy what we do and – above all – find it stimulating and useful, we can make a bigger difference than if they don’t.
That is why we try to match audience expectations by striving to maintain a ‘professional’ standard at all times.
Public File – Link to Ofcom Key Commitment reports (etc) up to 2014