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Sussex students get involved in local radio

Radio Free Brighton (RFB) is a hit with Sussex students

Students from the University of Sussex are involved in a growing local radio station, Radio Free Brighton (RFB).

Former Sussex students Tom Wright (Technical design), Jez Dresner (Treasurer) and Seph Bradfield (Secretary) put their minds to making a radio station that was accessible for inexperienced presenters.

In its first year of existence the community internet radio station, has recruited 102 volunteers to its ranks. The station’s founders set out to get the people Brighton talking to each other and dissecting the news – local and global.

They also encourage debates over environmental and human rights issues, hoping to keep youth away from a life of crime and apathy, to mention just a few of their ambitions, all washed down in a melee of Brighton’s finest original music played live.

Several University of Sussex students were involved in the conversion of the premises at Under the Bridge Studios 7 Trafalgar Arches (just under Brighton station), from a dilapidated old coach house to a fine set of rehearsal and recording studios with a good sized community meeting room and radio booth.

They teamed up with community activists, educationalists, anti-war campaigners, environmental campaigners, and those generally interested to make programmes for Brighton by Brighton.

Tom Wright said: “I got involved in Radio Free Brighton after seeing how many interesting people there are in Brighton. I was fascinated by the stories our city has to tell and the radio is the perfect platform for sharing them. I think it’s important that our aim isn’t professional polish, but inclusion and diversity – if someone has a message, I don’t want intimidation to stop them from doing a show.”

“By making it very simple to make a show, and free of charge, we can empower far more people and a wider spectrum of opinion and give everyone a feeling of ownership of this station,” says Jackie Chase, a local music teacher and human rights campaigner who manages the station.

As issues arise, city locals and university students get a chance through the programming to give their response – an opportunity which students at Sussex are keen to take.

Among many, RFB already lends space to programmes such as the Student Campaign Show by Martha Baker, and Sussex Stop the Cuts by Nathaniel Cross.

Cross said: “The show touches on nationwide student activity concerning education. The show also delves into the idea of education as a whole, and how the current educational systems are capable of failing to fulfil individuals on several levels.

“RFB is a great medium for publicising upcoming student events, and trying to engage those who have been ‘out’ of education for some time.”

On the radio station, programmes are provided in Polish (hosted by the Sussex Polish Society vice-president) Hungarian, French Dari and Spanish for those whom English is not a first language so it can help them to settle in to Brighton, and give a more global perspective to discussions.

University of Sussex lecturers, alongside their City College and other academic counterparts, have added a wealth of information to in-depth news analysis programmes.

Joining them have been people of all ages and cultures from around the city, with experience and specialist knowledge to share.

In the time when economic crisis and government policies both on domestic and international fronts are leaving people disillusioned and frustrated, the RFB team is adamant that people’s voices must be heard.

“Consult the schedule and you’ll see a wide range of interests covered. If what you are into is not there give us a call and come run a programme yourself or just volunteer to help. It’s that easy. And curl up on a chilly Saturday afternoon and listen to a range of bands going out live”, added Jackie.

To listen, visit www.radiofreebrighton.org.uk.

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