How We Started
Radio Verulam began with a spark of an idea - the idea that St Albans might benefit from a radio station designed specifically for the diverse community of this historic city. St Albans lies within the M25 commuter belt, with many residents travelling into London daily. Many of these commuters have moved into St Albans from London, seeking the sense of community that the Metropolis sometimes lacks. These relative newcomers live alongside locals, many of whom have a long family history in St Albans. The City is also home to a rich immigrant community, many of whom have established firm roots here.
Clive Glover, who had worked as a volunteer at City Radio (the hospital radio at St Albans City Hospital) during most of the 1980s, launched an appeal for members of the public to join him in creating a community radio station for the unique city of St Albans. A public meeting in 1992 drew crucial support from the local population and, one year later, Verulam Community Radio Limited (VCRL) was incorporated.
In 1993, as a result of lobbying by VCRL, the Radio Authority decided to advertise a commercial radio licence for St Albans but then added Watford to the area as well. Although we put in a credible bid for the licence we were beaten by the largest commercial radio operator in the area, Chiltern Radio (despite their apparently being ineligible under the ownership rules then applicable!).
After being declined for the commercial radio licence we were offered the opportunity to launch Radio Verulam as a cable radio station alongside the existing Community Television service West Herts TV on the local cable system based in Hemel Hempstead. So our team of community-minded presenters began broadcasting as Radio Verulam on the Telecential cable system on Saturday 24 February 1996, initially for just three hours a day. We had listeners at last! This gave us a tremendous sense of achievement, but we continued working towards our long-term goal of gaining a full broadcasting licence.
Changes at the Telecential cable company meant that we had to leave their building at Easter 1997 and find a new location for Radio Verulam. Thus a small and cramped office in Apsley above a tattoo parlour became the new Radio Verulam studio in November 1997 and for the next eight years!
By 2000, Radio Verulam was broadcasting 24 hours a day from Apsley on cable and now also online from our new website, with a team of twenty presenters, each personally trained by station manager Phil Richards. Phil, an experienced trainer in all aspects of media studies, can still be heard broadcasting on Radio Verulam daily.
The team at Radio Verulam were delighted to be awarded a three-week restricted licence in 2004, allowing us to broadcast live throughout that year's St Albans Carnival. OFCOM subsequently announced the opportunity for the first time for applications to be made for Community Radio broadcasting licences. We put in many hours of work to prepare our application and suffered an agonising wait until March 16th 2006, when Radio Verulam was finally granted a full broadcasting licence. After twelve years of hard work by a small but dedicated band of volunteers, St Albans now could have its own community radio station.
We ran another restricted service from the Town Hall in St Albans during the St Albans Festival in the Summer of 2006 as we simultaneously started searching for premises and antenna sites in the City for our new full time service. After many difficult months of negotiations over eight different antenna sites we eventually settled on a site in Victoria Street, St Albans from which we started transmitting Radio Verulam on 92.6 FM on 7 July 2007 as the first Community Radio station in Hertfordshire.
Radio Verulam now broadcasts 24 hours a day from our studios in central St Albans on 92.6 FM. We have a loyal and constantly-expanding audience throughout St Albans and the surrounding areas. We are also fortunate to have a growing and enthusiastic internet audience - many listeners contact us from across the globe to tell us they are enjoying our programes (we have even had them phone in from places like Sydney and Bankok!).
Our listeners tell us that they enjoy the immediacy of our local news reporting, information about local events, the traffic updates on St Albans and neighbouring towns, and the friendly banter of our team of home-grown presenters. We have a carefully crafted programme schedule covering national and local news, community activities and culture, and we can often be found broadcasting from events around West Hertfordshire. The studio is staffed by friendly but efficient volunteers and we take great pride in the personalised training we offer to each new apprentice.
Radio Verulam is committed to the community of St Albans and the surrounding areas. We aim to provide a wide range of programming for all listeners, whether they are listening at home, from work, or in the car. We are always keen to hear from our audience, so please do get in touch by phone on 01727 839926 or on Twitter or Facebook - whether it is to praise or critique our service, or to volunteer to become a vital part of this exciting 'new' venture.