Flame CCR – “touching Heaven, changing earth”. Local radio for local people, by local people. Our key purposes in radio broadcasting are :
- Providing radio services to the Christian community and the strengthening of links within it
- Improving local awareness of the Christian Community and bridge building to the local wider Community
- Increasing social inclusion, welcoming involvement from all people in our broadcasting activities.
The UK Christian Radio scene … Full-time nationwide Christian Radio stations are on satellite, cable and Freeview, plus DAB (digital) in some regions. Part-time opportunities have been available for many years and a limited number of Christian groups have taken up these RSL (Restricted Service Licence) opportunities. There are now over 250 local Community Radio stations, including nine UK Christian Community radio stations – Cross Rhythms City Radio (Stoke on Trent), Shine FM (Northern Ireland), Revival Radio (Cumbernauld), Hope FM (Bournemouth), Spirit of Plymouth, Branch FM (Dewesbury), Cross Rhythms (Teeside), Alive Radio (Dumfries) and Flame CCR. The Christian Broadcasting Council (www.christianbroadcastingcouncil.co.uk) represents these independent Christian radio stations and encourages Christians to be involved with their local community radio station.
The History of Flame FM … To hope is not to dream but to turn dreams into reality … In June 2000 four people (Norman & Mark Polden, Mike Smith and Adrian Bryan) set up a radio station in Wirral Christian Centre in Birkenhead, with an antenna on St Saviour’s Church tower, and broadcast, under restricted Service Licence on 106.2 MHz FM for 28 tiring days to celebrate the Millennium.
Many people found us on the dial and came to help us, and encouraged us to broadcast again. So a group of volunteers converted part of an old night club in Bebington into a studio, audio facilities and office. An antenna was put onto the Storeton Tower and the “Flame FM on Wirral” broadcasts on 87.7 Mhz FM reached parts of Liverpool, Runcorn, Chester and Rhyl, as well as Wirral. The team grew, 24 hour broadcasts were established with computers, and Flame broadcast to the maximum allowance of two 28 day broadcasting periods per year. We proved that ordinary people, with computers and second hand equipment, and an extra-ordinary God, could achieve a professional sounding radio station to a listenership who were hungry for a family friendly radio with a Christian ethos. And introduced to people a wide range of Christian music, of all genres.
In this period, Flame’s youngsters won a Jerusalem Productions “Best Newcomer” Award in 2004, and the Haynesies Friends series on people’s stories was Highly Commended by the Christian Broadcasting Council in 2006. In 2005 the Countryside Commission grant-aided a series of Heritage Programmes, which were completed in 2008 and are now on our web-site for “LISTEN AGAIN”. Some of our teaching programmes have been broadcast on other UK radio stations and supplied to a Bible College in the Far East. Wirral’s ethnic minorities were served by programmes in Chinese, and Irish music. We also helped Wirral Carers with CARER’S FM in June 2006.
In parallel with broadcasting, we joined other UK Christian groups in pressurising the government for full-time licenses. Our 2004 application to Ofcom for a licence was rejected in 2006 because of a dearth of FM frequencies in the North-West, but at the end of 2007 Ofcom offered us a Medium Wave Community Radio licence and Flame CCR (Christian and Community Radio) was born.
In the years 2000 to 2007, our “practice field”, we learnt the value of a local focus in broadcasting (involving local people, raising local interest). We drew people from all denominations. building bridges into the community – via people being interviewed, making programmes, being voices on air, being part of the technical crew, and helping in the office. We also recorded music in our “Green Door Studio” for broadcasting. We proved that radio is very effective in providing encouragement, company, and a “background” to life – everywhere we go we hear the sound of a radio. We forged links with Wirral’s churches via “Churches Together in Wirral” and helped them establish a comprehensive web-site www.churcheswirral.co.uk with details of all Wirral churches. A confident estimate is that well over 10,000 people have listened to Flame; we still meet people who were blessed by Flame. Our programmes included people’s stories, via our “Chat room” (with some of the stories available on CD) and “Haynesies Friends”. Also poetry for children (Tilly Tuppence) and adults (poetry from Clive). And many genres of music, some recorded in our own Green Door studio (they laugh a lot behind the green door).
Between June 2000 and April 2007 “Flame FM on Wirral” brought over 9,000 hours of Christian radio to a potential audience of over 300,000 people for a total cost of £225,000.
Flame had to change location, after our 14th RSL broadcast, in May 2007 and this, plus finance limitations, stopped further FM broadcasts from Storeton. But an office and studio has now been established in Rock Ferry, in St Paul’s Road Mission. To give us experience in internet radio, and to maintain our broadcasting expertise, Flame on the Web commenced broadcasting on Valentine’s Day 2008. A medium wave antenna was built in North Wirral and broadcasts on 1521 MHz medium wave started on 19th December 2009 … realising the dream of full-time radio broadcasting. In September 2010 “a pleasure to work in” studio was opened in St Paul’s Road Mission. In October 2011 the medium wave antenna was relocated at a permanent site in South Wirral. These broadcasts reach all of Wirral and beyond (at least 20 miles radius) and our broadcasting licence has now been renewed to December 2019). In September 2013 our second (recording) studio was commissioned during a Mayoral visit. Our “Voices and Verses” KJV Bible readings (by public on the street) was commended at UK national level as was a Good Friday devotional based on our major dramatisation of “Pilgrim’s Progress”. Our internet simulcasts “Flame on the Web” have listeners worldwide and since 2014 are on major internet portals., as also have our LISTEN AGAIN podcasts. Our YouTube channels has a number of short music videos, plus recorded Psalms. Launching into our second 5 year licence period our “season of improvement” has resulted in upgraded play-out system, comprehensive computer networking and efficient remote control of our broadcast playout schedule, including round the clock scheduling.