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Radio station brings green agenda to festivals

Jan Goodey

19th June, 2009

Green Futures Radio brings environmental issues, as well as up and coming young musicians, to festival-going audiences

A London-based radio station that values every new listener, isn't about big names DJs and aims to put the ‘act' into interactive - welcome to 1Xtra... ok, ok just joking, it's Green Futures Radio (GFR) coming to a field near you this summer.

The latest incarnation of the station - launched originally in 2007 - will be broadcasting live from all the main green festivals this summer: Glastonbury, Big Green Gathering included.

Founded by Sam Hermitage, chair of the Kingston Green Fair, co-ordinator of the Green Futures Field at Glasto and director of the Big Green, you can pick it up online as well as live, three or four times a month.

"I was inspired to the potential by ex-Sex pistols producer Dave Goodman. We had a band in the nineties called New Age Radio," says Sam. "The station first got going on the net in the winter of 07."

This time around, with the help of Brighton DJ and producer Sean Creed, the aim is to develop a unique, eco-based entertainment station, mixing an agenda of environmental solutions in a community-based way: a kind of Resonance FM for greens although Sam isn't totally sold on that comparison.

"I hope not, but I've not listened as much as I should. I know they do some good programmes and am inspired by their experimental nature."

A more DIY attitude is at the heart of Green Futures, based in a rambling, wooden outbuilding on the outskirts of Kingston where an atmosphere of organised chaos prevails.

"I've never been blessed with a sensible financial income and the whole thing has been run on a total shoestring! We want to capture real happenings, to provide a platform for people to be involved who would not normally have a chance in broadcasting, to pioneer interactive radio, to showcase quality music from around the globe, promote young and emerging musicians, and bring green issues to a wider audience. To educate and entertain basically!"

As part of this ethos, the station had a Restricted Service Licence (RSL) under the banner of Kingston Green Radio 87.7 FM for ten days in May (8th to 17th). It is more this kind of venture - part of the local Paint the Town Green celebrations - than attracting big name djs that appeals to Sam:

"We're after a growing list of supporters, big name support/djs is not really what it's about for me but on the other hand I'm open to offers!"

The outside broadcasts from Glastonbury and the Big Green will be as important as the local initiatives as this is where the station's roots lie. It's not all plain sailing of course: getting the right technology to work in a muddy field can be a logistical nightmare.
"We've been battling to get an efficient broadband service in the Green Fields [Glastonbury] for a while now and all of the power has to come from renewables - wind and solar."

As for the Big Green, Green Futures has close ties to Radio Avalon/Green Radio FM which should make it easier to stream their RSL broadcast at the festival this year.

What about overall listener figures? Sam's not the kind of station manager who will have the latest RAJAR figures to hand but he's nevertheless pleased that the station is growing:

"Every listener is important. It gives me a great thrill to know people are listening!"
An estimated 10,000 regulars tuned into May's Kingston Green Radio broadcasts including the odd irate MP calling in to complain about near the knuckle political phone-ins dealing with the G20 protests and the Climate Camp among other issues.

The djs roster includes the edgy Howard Grange, Matt Cat, Jean Vidler, John Johnson, John Moore, Charlie Redman, Selina Seren Silencio, Sandy Lawson, Susi Oddball and the aforementioned, Sean Creed.

Names you may well be hearing more of as GFR gets better known in the capital and beyond. But is all this simply Radio Ga-Ga run by a bunch of ageing hippies for a bunch of ageing hippies? No, not at all because as Sam says there is a clear mission here:

"Radio is normally such a passive activity for the listener. We aim to reach right out to make people feel they are part of the shows and to help them feel empowered to get out there to change the world."

Jan Goodey is an environmental activist

 

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