A final farewell as Swanage based radio station closes

Purbeck Coast radio has broadcast for the last time from its base on Swanage Pier – but even as the station went off air, its last words were ‘We’ll be back’.

Presenter David Hollister, who was the first voice heard on Purbeck Coast when it went on air on Monday 12th August 2019, took the microphone for the last 10 minutes of the final show on Thursday 15th February 2024.

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PURBECK COAST RADIO

Reunited for a final time, presenters, front; Paul Thompson, Jackie Temple, Thelma Deacon. Back; Peter Hayes, Michelle Langthorne, Maggie O’Neill

A three hour farewell show

A three hour farewell show became a celebration of everything the community radio station has achieved since getting an FM licence from Ofcom in 2019, with presenters and special guests choosing their favourite tracks.

Before playing The End by The Beatles, David Hollister said:

“Our programming was varied and covered a whole lot of community issues, but now it’s over. As it’s the last day, and mine was the first voice you heard on Purbeck Coast radio, it falls to me to say a few words to the many people who made it possible.

“Thanks, first and foremost, to the Swanage Pier Trust who made a part of this building available for a state of the art radio studio with all the latest equipment, the best I have ever worked in.

“This was the original idea of Pier manager Ben Adeney, who has followed it through from the start. If you liked it, tell your friends – why? You’ll find out!

“Purbeck Coast may be leaving you, but rest assured that the team will be back in some shape or form fairly soon. In the words of the lovely Arnold Schwarzenegger, we’ll be back.”

Purbeck Coast radio station

Purbeck Coast FM has been at the heart of the community for the past five years

“Funding sadly eluded us”

The Swanage Pier Trust took the decision to close the station down rather than try to renew the licence with Ofgem in 2024 when they knew that funding was at crisis point.

Swanage Pier Trust chief executive, Ben Adeney said:

“As founder of the project, it is a great disappointment that we were unable to secure the support we needed for the station to continue – there’s no doubt that running any radio station is not going to be a cheap exercise.

“We hoped we’d find long-term funding but despite everyone’s best efforts, thanks to the pandemic and economic downturn, the funding sadly eluded us.

“We were very fortunate because we had about 40 volunteers and a grant from the lottery to fund a station manager, and we would like to thank all the volunteers, members of the public, local businesses and organisations for their support over the years.”

PURBECK COAST RADIO

The studio was set up in part as a media training facility for young people

Never Forget, the final track

The final track played on Purbeck Coast was Never Forget by Take That before the FM transmitter was shut off at 5.30 pm on Thursday 15th February 2024.

A decision still has to be finalised about the future of the broadcasting equipment, but it has previously been reported that it could be used to give young people in Swanage and Purbeck some media training, one of the original aims of the Purbeck Coast project.

It is also hoped that some of the volunteer presenters will be able to continue to present versions of their shows on an internet based radio streaming service.

Michelle Langthorne standing by the Purbeck Coast banner

Purbeck Coast station manager Michelle Langthorne: A very sad day

“We are leaving on a high”

Purbeck Radio station manager Michelle Langthorne said:

“It is a very sad day for Swanage and Purbeck, the station has been a social hub for so many and has become part of our community, exactly what we wanted it to achieve as a community radio station.

“We are leaving on a high, we have been successful, we have always kept high production values and the majority of the time we have compared very well with some commercial stations.

“We have had a unique schedule of programming where we really do speak to the community and have had an awful lot of local Purbeck organisations and guests in.

“There have been some lovely – and very sad – responses to the news that we were closing with so many people asking whether they could do something to save it, although sadly we have not had the magic millionaire come forward to prevent the demise of the station.”

PURBECK COAST RADIO

Faces old and new from the community radio station gathered again for the final programme

Community radio filling a gap

Michelle Langthorne added:

“We are really proud of all we have achieved, we were really successful in everything but the funding.

“Community stations are filling a gap – where local BBC radio is disappearing, and where commercial radio is becoming homogenised, community radio is becoming even more important, but it’s very hard to survive financially.

“We are one of quite a few going to the wall this year, it’s really hard for them to keep afloat in the current financial situation, and it is very difficult to get funding as a radio station.

“Having FM was a very useful thing, when technology fails or heaven forbid there is some other disaster, having a transmitter on the top of a hill for a local community is actually quite a useful thing.”

Michelle praised the volunteers who kept Purbeck Coast FM running over the years, especially her deputy Sarah Dearling and administration assistant Patricia Postins.

Rena Lang and Michelle Langthorne receive siver award at Community Radio Awards 2021
Vincent Lo

Purbeck Coast Sports+ presenter Rena Lang, right, collecting a silver award for her show at the national Community Radio Awards in 2021

“We will really miss being here”

Michelle Langthorne added:

“I have loved the interaction with the local community and our listeners – there is one in particular, Amanda Mason, who never misses a show and always sends us lovely messages.

“There’s no doubt that some people will really miss us. Radio is a magical medium, you are painting pictures with your words and playing good music, you reach a lot of people, and you do make them feel less lonely.

“A local community radio station has a special place as a valuable source of information and entertainment from local and trusted voices. We will really miss being here.”

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