Local radio station helps to provide lifeline for Valleys communities during cost-of-living crisis
Written by Gavin on 20th March 2023
Local radio station GTFM is giving a platform to local people and organisations to engage in issues important to the Rhondda Cynon Taf community.
The popular local radio station, which has been providing the Rhondda Cynon Taf community with a diverse programme of mainstream pop and specialist interest music, local news and current affairs for over 20 years, partnered with Pontypridd Town and Rhondda Cynon Taf County councils on their ‘Winter Welcome Centres’ initiative, helping to promote and signpost residents to their nearest ‘warm space’.
These Warm Hubs are run by a mixture of third sector organisations, churches, community centres, colleges, councillors and other volunteers, all of whom can exploit GTFM’s unique ability to rapidly reach thousands of residents to inform communities of where their warm hubs are, when they are open and what they offer – and to call out for more volunteers to come and help.
It’s a timely reminder of the value community radio offers residents in the Rhondda, Cynon and Taff Valleys and more broadly across Wales, particularly those ‘hard to reach’ demographics (i.e., disadvantaged groups, elderly, social media-averse and rural inhabitants).
Warm Hubs offer local residents a welcoming environment, cups of tea and refreshments with other members of the community. Some invite parents to bring their children or provide a hot meal, while others offer exercise or arts and crafts classes, or provide advice and support services on a variety of issues such as financial matters, health and well-being or digital accessibility.
GTFM’s station manager Terry Mann said:
“The list of Warm Hubs across the county is astounding. We broadcast information relating to these hubs throughout our radio programming, website and social media channels”.
“In fact, we act in many ways as an information conduit between community organisations, local government and the public at large”. This includes RCT County Borough Council leader, Councillor Andrew Morgan OBE who appears regularly to answer residents’ questions on local authority issues, and expert guest appearances from both the local Health Board and Citizens Advice RCT. The Welsh Government’s First Minister and other ministers also appear on GFTM from time to time.
Mr Mann added: “Not everyone owns a smart device. A lot of the people, especially the elderly and vulnerable, still rely on a traditional radio to provide them with hyper-local news and information.”
However, for those with internet connectivity, GTFM’s website and three social media platforms now reach over 36,000 followers with 26,000 on Facebook alone. The sizeable social media following was largely built off the back of providing an invaluable resource for communicating detailed Covid-19-related information, including the different Welsh Government policies and restrictions from those that came into force in England at the time.
To help boost its income the station is now selling joint media campaigns comprising radio adverts and regular social media posts, giving clients access to listeners and its large social media following. This is important because GTFM, which is a registered charity, receives no regular financial support from statutory sources to fund its lifeline community service, so must cover its £50,000 annual running costs by selling advertising and carrying out its own charitable cash collections, something it was unable to do throughout the pandemic.
To help its income recover from damage inflicted by the pandemic, GTFM is on the lookout for more larger scale advertisers who’d like to benefit from tapping into its large radio and internet following, part of which may otherwise be commercially inaccessible via radio because research has shown a proportion of GTFM’s audience mainly listens to BBC radio when not tuned into the station.
Listen to GTFM on 107.9FM (Pontypridd, Taf Ely and lower Rhondda areas) 107.1FM (Aberdare) 100.7FM (Mountain Ash), GTFM Player App, Smartspeakers or gtfm.co.uk