My name is Michelle and I’m a Radio Anorak.
I’m also the Community Outreach and Fundraising Support Officer for Chelmsford Community Radio CIC. We’re a not-for profit organisation that broadcasts to the whole of Chelmsford on 104.4FM, we’re also streaming online and via our app.
I know I keep going on about radio. I truly believe in using radio for good. Sometimes I think it’s taken for granted. This wonderful, powerful medium that has informed, entertained, inspired people for generations. At Chelmsford Community Radio, we are more than a platform, we are an asset tied into the very birthplace of radio. Something to help make a difference. Boost skills and confidence for many and play a vital role in enhancing the very community that we serve.
My own journey into broadcasting started at a Hospital Radio Station in Epping when I myself was only 15 years old. I was kind of hooked into this fun new thing I’d discovered but it also made me more resilient. I used my volunteering there to gain credits for my Silver and Gold Duke of Edinburgh Awards. I once went to a job interview for an Office Junior post and was told that they invited me in because having the radio hobby on my CV made me stand out from other candidates.
I did hospital radio in Basildon too – setting up a maternity request show when I was expecting my second child. From there I joined a group of people who wanted to start a Community Station for Basildon. I was one of six founding Directors of Gateway Community Radio CIC though I stepped away from the Director part as I needed to focus on my children. I remained involved and once my oldest was in junior school I approached his head teacher and was given permission to run a radio club with their year 5 pupils. The club was a huge success – winning the Schools Sony Award for a documentary the children had made about the 1953 flood.
From that, someone suggested that I consider teaching radio as a career move. I went to evening classes and came away with a Level 4 PTLLS before following on with a Level 5 DTLLS.
It was about this time that I found out about Chelmsford Community Radio starting up. I’ve been part of the station for nearly 10 years. The best bit for me is that I’m using my skills and knowledge to benefit others. Radio is a brilliant teaching tool, you can apply it to lots of different subjects and make an engaging project out of it. It is more than a one trick pony and there’s certainly more to our station than a bunch of cheesy DJ’s!!
I’m proud to have visited our twin town of Backnang and work with students at the Max Born Gymnasium School – I’ve been there four times now. What started as an intense week of making radio back in 2019 has evolved significantly under the wing of their Deputy Head Teacher/Twinning Partnership Co-Chair Dorothee Ziesik – to a point where the school have developed their own radio studio and are producing weekly shows (which we broadcast )- giving a wonderful insight into German culture.
Back in Chelmsford, I’ve been running workshops in podcasting and radio with different organisations, schools, colleges and businesses. I’ve was delighted to run a Radio Club at Baddow Hall Junior School in partnership with the Chelmsford City Council Local Cultural Education Partnership (LCEP), held a 5 week Radio Club at Chelmsford Museum and set up a Radio Drama Festival for the City. In addition, over the last year I’ve been able to accommodate 14 year 10/12 students needing to do their school work experience.
I’ve also been mentoring new presenters in the station. Many of the young people I’ve worked with have done incredibly well since joining. One of my previous mentees got snapped up by local commercial station Radio Essex, one now has shows on Radio Caroline which has a huge worldwide audience. Most recently we celebrated that 15 year old Daisy Barker, who has been with us for three years won Gold in the Young Audio Awards Rising Star aged 12-15 category – as a prize Daisy gets to do an hours show on Fun Kids the national DAB station.
Hopefully, those of you reading this blog may have learned a few new things. Chelmsford Community Radio is an outstanding local platform based in the heart of the City. We have got some very dedicated presenters who showcase local bands, musicians, performers, am-dram groups, charities, local businesses, politicians and individuals within our community but we also do all this great work too. I find it incredibly frustrating sometimes that we get taken for granted.
The wonderful platform that we have and all of the engagement work that we do can only survive if you do your bit too. To start off with, please tell people about us, signpost to your contacts and friends. Why not help us with some fundraising perhaps, do you know someone who might like to advertise to Chelmsford people? As these funds contribute towards our running costs as do the workshops, clubs and training. Why not commission a session, or support one that has been commissioned …
And on that note, I am running a two day Eco-Podcasting workshop in partnership with The Essex Book Festival team and Heritage Open Days on the 9th and 10th of September, It’s for age 11 and up and it’s FREE!!! If you know a young person who might like to come along please get them to book. It will be a fun weekend learning some new skills and making audio content that really shouts about the next generations concerns regarding Climate Change. https://essexbookfestival.org.uk/event/make-your-own-eco-podcast-workshop-for-age-11/
Thank you for reading my blog and if you’re wanting to know more of course then you know where I am.
Michelle Durant, Ignite Member.