When the pastor becomes the presenter

The moment you hear the warm, velvet voice of Hedley Clemo, you instantly know he has a voice for radio.

His voice immediately puts you at ease, unlike some of the very stark “high energy” vibes you get from some radio stations. Hedley is one of many presenters at Newbury-based Kennet Radio, which enters a new era in it’s young history this coming weekend. He’s also the Pastor of Thatcham Community Church and its this cross-over of outreach and broadcasting that forms the backbone of his presenting and programming work at the radio station.

Kennet Radio has been granted an RSL Temporary Licence from 3 to 26 May, and so is able to extend its current online-only broadcast to the airwaves. The station will be broadcasting live on 87.7FM and its hoped that this new temporary licence will help increase community awareness of the station, help increase their local events coverage as the licence bookends the two May Bank Holidays and engage with a wider audience across the region.

The history of the radio station is steeped in a transformation of local community broadcasting in the Newbury and Thatcham areas – in fact the station is something of a Phoenix rising from the ashes of what was once Kick FM; a local community station which has been since bought out and then subsequently merged with commercial radio. The loss of Kick FM left a gap in the community and this is where Kennet Radio stepped in during the latter part of 2012.

“What we wanted to do”, explains Hedley, “was to reinstate local radio; a local service with home-grown presenters. We have over 20 presenters at the station who bring their own blend of personality and experience to the service. Of course, we have the usual scheduling such as a Breakfast Show and a Drivetime slot in the evenings, but its about bringing back an important service to the community.”

There is certainly a wealth of presenting and broadcasting experience in the team at Kennet Radio. Paul Newman, the Programme Scheduler, brings with him over 30 years of experience, having worked at many regional and commercial radio stations in his career to date. Chris Bounds, who presents Kennet Radio’s Breakfast Show comes from a background of working in hospital radio in Basingstoke where he was a presenter and Station Manager. He is also a presenter and volunteer production assistant at Radio Enham near Andover, a radio station for disabled people, run by disabled people. David Leadbeater brings some local radio experience to Kennet Radio too, having worked as a presenter on Hospital Radio Reading which is based at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading. Hedley himself first started out in radio back in 1992 doing a live broadcast on the BBC Wiltshire Sound Breakfast Show.

Speaking about what bonds together his pastoral work at Thatcham Community Church and his presenting at Kennet Radio, Hedley explains, “I’ve been the Pastor at the Church now for around 8 or 9 years. In one way or another we all have a form of outreach; some people work with foodbanks, others with the homeless. For me, my outreach is radio. I pre-record a show which is broadcast between 8:00am and 10:00am each Sunday morning. Obviously I can’t do a live show as I am in my own Church with my own congregation on Sunday mornings, but pre-recording my slot means I can put some extra thought and forward planning into it, and in the guests I invite onto the show to talk on different subjects. It also means I have to be sharp when it comes to time management. The first hour of my show is very traditional; it’s a Worship Hour which features traditional hymns, words and parables. The second hour is much more conversational.”

Hedley also produces an insightful “Thought For The Day” which is a 60-second recorded piece broadcast at 8:50am and 10:50am daily. Hedley agrees, “Its about being challenging without being confrontational; giving people something to think about.”

With the digital interaction both in terms of online listening and social media engagement, it is clear there’s certainly a need for local programming. Hedley concludes, “We hope to gain a permanent Broadcasting Licence later this year or early in 2015. It all depends on when an application slot becomes available from Ofcom, but in the meantime we may well apply for another Temporary Licence later in 2014.”

To listen to Kennet Radio online and to find out more about the station, visit www.kennetradio.com. From 3 May to 26 May you can also hear them broadcasting across the airwaves on 87.7FM. The station also has a Facebook page where you can post and interact with other listeners as well as the presenters. You can also interact with them via their Twitter feed, so why not tweet them @KennetRadioFM.