Media: On a woman's wavelength: An experimental radio service giving 'a voice for women in London' may herald a permanent fixture, says Margaret Farrall - Media - News - The Independent

Media: On a woman's wavelength: An experimental radio service giving 'a voice for women in London' may herald a permanent fixture, says Margaret Farrall

London's Celebration Radio was launched this week, offering what it sees as a well-balanced seven-day diet of female broadcasting entertainment, which might even mark a change in the nation's listening habits.

A week-long Radio Authority Restricted Service Licence has been granted to Celebration for an experimental service described as 'a voice for women in London'. The station plans to inject some much-needed variety into the staple broadcasting fare for women. It hopes that by doing this it will not only help to make more room at the table for young up-and-coming women broadcasters, but also reinforce the need for independent radio stations with a female perspective.

Julie Hill is the driving force behind the Women's Radio Group, a national arts charity which provides training for women in all areas of radio production. A group of radio trainees aged between 17 and 65, many of whom want to become professional broadcasters, are running Celebration - the second all-women's radio station in the capital - following closely on from Brazen Radio, which had two weeks of broadcasting that ended earlier this month.

Hill, who for three years has been running courses for women seeking careers in broadcasting, defends the project against the charge that it is creating female airwave ghettos.

'Although we are beginning to see and hear more women in broadcasting, there are still not enough in the industry as a whole. For example, there are very few female programme controllers. The time has come for women's radio made for women by women, and it is a very serious issue.

'There's no such thing as the ghetto of Woman's Hour any more - but there is a message coming across from women who don't want programmes about cakes and crochet but who want to hear a woman's voice on political issues, women's comedy, sport, drama and music.'

There is a feeling among already established women in the media that the time could be right for a female-oriented station. Viva Radio - still a working title - is putting the finishing touches to an application for a commercial London-wide radio licence to be submitted in June. A decision follows in October.

Katy Turner, sales and marketing director for London-based Jazz FM - soon to be launching in the north of England - says Viva was inspired and created by women. She is spearheading Viva's application on behalf of Jazz FM's parent company, Golden Rose Communications. 'It is for everyone who enjoys the challenges of living in the capital.'

Viva has a powerful line-up of women behind it, including chairwoman Lynne Franks, the public relations consultant, and two non-executive directors, publisher Deborah Owen and broadcaster and producer Linda Agran. Other names linked with Viva are Carol Thatcher, Dr Miriam Stoppard, Anna Raeburn, Glenys Kinnock and Pattie Barron.

Turner supports the need for female-perspective radio not only because this is the message coming through from women, but for the commercial reason that women often hold the purse-strings and buy many of the advertised products. She quotes Advertising Association statistics which estimate that pounds 750m was spent in 1992 targeting women via television, and pounds 350m through the press - which is 39 per cent of total spent on advertising on TV and in the press.

'This compares with around pounds 9m on radio, which is only 8 per cent - so there is a vast market there.'

Established female broadcasters support the idea of women having a chance on the airwaves.

Sue MacGregor of Radio 4's Today programme says: 'I do think single-sex radio can be an excellent idea, but I don't say it always is.

'We can never underestimate how unsure of themselves and how uncertain of their abilities many women - even those who want to be journalists - are. One automatically thinks they must be tough cookies if they have to express themselves on radio or television.'

Pattie Coldwell, of Carlton Television's Capital Woman programme and a former presenter of Radio 4's You and Yours, agrees and supports Celebration.

''Things are so bad that we have to have positive discrimination. I wish that there wasn't this need across the board in the media, but there is. Would you rather have no positive discrimination and stay out in the cold, or have it and at least be heard?

'I do think women appreciate things from a different point of view. Eve Pollard, editor of the Sunday Express, had a fabulous line that the trouble with a lot of women who are doing very well, especially in radio, is that they behave like men and ask their type of questions instead of those women would ask.'

Angela Rippon, an award-winning pioneer in women's broadcasting and television who now presents the three-hour Drive Time programme on the London radio station LBC, welcomes Celebration, too, but has strong reservations about broadcasting with a female bias.

'If it is giving the opportunity for women who want to broaden their broadcasting experience then it is a marvellous idea. I believe it is the only way to do it. You can have all the qualifications in the world, but if you don't have the chance to put them into practice, you don't know whether you can do it under live conditions.

'I have reservations about an all-female station. I would hate it to be targeted at women and only come with a women's perspective. Financed by women, staffed by women, with women executives and presenters - I have no problem with that.

'But I would hate to think everything that went out was rampantly feminist - I am not rampantly feminist and never have been. I am doing something for listeners regardless of creed, colour, age or sex. It is broadcasting, not narrowcasting, and you must always keep that in mind.'

Rippon believes that isolating groups could cause problems. 'You are making assumptions that women only want to listen to women and men to men, but they like to listen to whoever is a good broadcaster.'

But the Radio 2 presenter Sarah Kennedy is anxious about specialist women's channels creating female ghettos. She had a tough struggle entering broadcasting without an Oxbridge degree, but found a way in through the British Forces Broadcasting Services.

'I think anyone has a tough time breaking into broadcasting. It is one of the most sought-after jobs. There is no easy route. I think it is just as hard for a man as it is for a woman.

'I stride the corridors of the BBC at various times of the day and I see about a 50/50 mix - in fact, on first impressions there seem to be more women than men. I can truthfully say it is exceedingly fair where I work. You have to be tough to get in there and you have to be tough once you are there to stay there.'

Radio Celebration broadcasts on 87.7FM starting at 6am each day until midnight on Sunday in the London area.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'I felt like that was the lowest I’d ever felt'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
News
A plane flies close to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano
newsAnd yes, it's quite something
Sport
Tito Vilanova passed away aged just 45
footballThe club's former manager died in April, less than a year after he stood down
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch
artAnd it's even for a good cause
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Life and Style
techCriminals are targeting an e-reader security flaw
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
News
newsBut just how much does a 122-carat coloured diamond go for these days?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketing Manager / Dig...

Brand Manager / Account Manager

£28 - 36k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Brand Manager / Senior Account Manager is nee...

Sales Executive

£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Director of Programming and Industry Engagement

£40k - £50k depending on experience: Sheffield Doc/Fest: Sheffield Doc/Fest is...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week