Community station has questions over council’s radio silence

Town Hall leaders were keen enough to promote themselves with selfies in the studios, but now a manager at the town’s community station claims they have been ‘black-listed’  by the council. By STEVEN DOWNES

One week has passed since Croydon FM’s launch as a free-to-air community broadcast station, and there’s not been a single word of congratulation or encouragement from the local council. Croydon is London’s Borough of Culture in 2023…

Croydon FM’s studios in St George’s Walk: rarely visited by council officials

This radio silence has prompted volunteers at the station to question Croydon Council’s true commitment to culture and diversity, raising some awkward issues for the likes of Oliver “Shit Show” Lewis and the rest of the Newman numpties who have helped to bankrupt the Labour-controlled council.

Croydon FM was launched in June 2018 as an online station, featuring a small team of presenters and schedule of live programming, and was granted an FM licence by Ofcom last year, enabling it to go live last weekend.

At the core of Croydon FM’s operation is a community of local people and the CFM Youth Project, which sets out to provide opportunities for young people aged between 14 and 17 to learn skills in radio broadcasting and production. It is the sort of forward-thinking, innovative programme in the town centre which most people would see as being exactly the kind of training and education project that deserves to be encouraged and supported.

Yet since it was founded, and despite numerous requests for help, Croydon FM has not received any financial grants from Croydon Council.

Pointed question: after three years of being ignored, Croydon FM is putting the council on the spot

The simmering resentment over the manner in which station has been ignored and marginalised by the council’s leadership boiled over in a couple of telling tweets this week.

The first, last Tuesday, was directed at the official Croydon Council Twitter account, and is self-explanatory: “Do you know we are the first FM community-led radio station for the borough (with coverage across London) and you’ve not congratulated or supported us during the journey – Why is that?”

There has been no response from anyone at the council.

A couple of days later, Phoebe Herschdorfer, the station manager, tweeted this: “Fun fact: About three years ago Oliver Lewis waltzed into Croydon FM with [Tony] Newman to take a picture in our studio to promote himself on social media.

Wired for sound: Lewis with CFM founder Clive Campbell. Gesture politician Lewis grabbed the headphones for the picture, although they weren’t plugged in and nothing was being broadcast

“We didn’t know him at that point and we haven’t heard from him since.”

Tony Newman, of course, is the discredited former leader of the Labour group at the Town Hall, a man who was always fond of self-aggrandisement and self-promotion at every opportunity, however marginal his or the council’s role might have been with the subject or location.

Lewis, Newman’s sometime golf caddie, was promoted beyond his abilities to become a cabinet member for sport, art and shit.

While Newman has since been suspended by the Labour Party over his part in the council’s financial collapse and is no longer a councillor, Lewis remains a member of the council cabinet.

Self-aggrandising: How Newman tried to claim credit for the council on his fleeting visit three years ago

Today, Herschdorfer told Inside Croydon, “The issue that Croydon Council has with Croydon FM goes deep.

“I believe that Croydon Council has clearly blacklisted us for some reason and I’m not sure what it will take for them to support us.

“From the beginning, the council made it very clear that we would need to bend over backwards to receive any support and even when we did, the support wasn’t guaranteed.

“I wish I had the answers to why Croydon Council has repeatedly failed to support us, I’m perplexed by the whole situation.

“Is it that we don’t fit the perception of Croydon which they are trying to push out to the general public? Is it that they don’t understand our culture, or even black music? Are they annoyed that we created Croydon FM and they didn’t?”

Phoebe Herschdorfer: ‘Are they upset we have done this without them?’

Croydon FM is registered as a Community Interest Company. Its records at Companies House shows it to be operating on a shoestring budget of a few thousand pounds per year, with no payments being made to directors or staff.

“We have singlehandedly and organically brought together more than 50 Croydon residents who make up the Croydon FM membership,” Herschdorfer said.

“Are Croydon Council upset that we’ve been able to do this without them?

“Other community radio stations across London receive great support from their councils. For some unknown reason, we don’t.

“I’m not suggesting that they should financially support the station. But they haven’t even bothered to congratulate us privately or publicly for being awarded the FM licence last year or, most recently, launching the FM service.

“Croydon is set to be Borough of Culture 2023, however, Croydon Council doesn’t even support their own local radio station located only a few minutes away from their offices.”

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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2 Responses to Community station has questions over council’s radio silence

  1. How can Croydon Council not see support of this brilliant radio station as a positive thing? This council is the most disenfranchised local authority in the UK. It’s lost connection with the people of the borough.

  2. Chris Flynn says:

    Maybe if Stormzy becomes mayor (in time for 2023) this won’t be a problem.

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