Wirral Christian Media (registered Charity) was founded in 2000 after the first “Flame FM on Wirral” RSL FM broadcast (Whitsun 2000 for the Millennium). After 14 RSL (Restricted Service Licence) broadcasts (2000 – 2007) full-time Community Radio broadcasting, under a Community Radio licence, commenced on 19th December 2009 (and now extended to December 2024) on medium wave to Wirral and beyond. Digital radio via internet commenced in May 2010. Thus we have progressed from part time broadcasting in 2000 to round the clock, round the year and round the world.
“Flame CCR” broadcasts on 1521 kHz (medium wave) from South Wirral and covers most of Wirral, and beyond – travel 20 miles from Wirral and you may still be able to hear us. These medium wave broadcasts are in mono and “low-fi” although turn your radio up and listen to a quality sound.
Flame’s internet simulcast (Flame Radio) leads on into the digital age and, in harmony with our friends in Commedia, we champion the use of the internet for digital radio. This serves listeners world-wide accessing Flame’s secure (https) streams via major portals (RadioPlayer, TuneIn, ……). The “Flame Radio app” gives easy direct access for listening on the move (or at home) via mobile phone and Bluetooth interface. Full stereo and hi-fi makes listening via laptop, internet radio or 4G phone a great experience. As the years roll on this method of listening is becoming increasingly popular compared with “old-fashioned medium wave”.
Our programme schedule is maintained 24×7 with concentration upon music in daytime with some speech, and a bias towards speech programmes in evenings and overnight. Overall a 70% music content is maintained with 80% Christian content – but also with a focus on local community activities and including good secular music – hence Flame CCR = Christian and Community Radio. Well over 75% of our programmes are locally sourced and 30% are new. Overnight an interesting set of “local” programmes is maintained for insomniacs and for a world-wide audience.
Since 2013 we have had programmes for LISTEN AGAIN via this website and are experiencing considerable use of this facility. There are also Flame videos on a Flame CCR You Tube channel.
Flame is on Facebook as “Flame Christian & Community Radio” and on Twitter as “flameccr”.
Small-scale DAB (SSDAB) was established by Ofcom in 2015 and for a year (2017-2018) Flame CCR also broadcast on the Manchester pilot SSDAB to gain good experience of DAB operation. Ofcom has now granted a full time SSDAB licence (May 2022) to www.liverpoolDAB.com and Flame CCR intends to start broadcasting on DAB to Liverpool and part of Wirral early in 2023.
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 took up these RSL (Restricted Service Licence) opportunities. Full-time community radio licences were offered by Ofcom from 2005 and 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
Restricted Service Licences. 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.
Psalm 106 v 2 … Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the LORD or fully declare his praise?
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 (Life Church) 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.
Psalm 87 v 7 … As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in you.”
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.
During all of Flame’s RSL broadcasts we felt we were on the “practice field”, working hard but un-noticed, but essential time before the “big match”. 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.
New Location. 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 was established in Rock Ferry, in St Paul’s Road Mission (the “church with the big text” John 3 v 16) so that that Gospel message could be broadcast world-wide. The Flame broadcasting studio was built into a spare hall (the InAsMuch room) in the church – this broadcasting studio was commissioned in September 2020.
John 3 v 16 … For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Internet Radio. To give us experience in internet radio, and to maintain our broadcasting expertise, Flame on the Web commenced broadcasting on Valentine’s Day 2008. The Gospel message (John 3 v 16) painted on the outside wall of the building for local people to see was now travelling over the internet for the world to see,
Community Radio licence (Medium Wave). 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. Broadcast on medium wave, and reaching further the Wirral, our transmission “call-sign” was changed to Flame CCR (Christian & Community Radio). 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 (wires in trees). These broadcasts reach all of Wirral and beyond (at least 20 miles radius) and our broadcasting licence has now been renewed to December 2024). 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”.
Technical improvements over the years have resulted in an upgraded play-out system, comprehensive computer networking and efficient remote control of our broadcast playout schedule, including round the clock scheduling.
Ofcom grant Community Radio licences for a renewable 5 year period, so in 2014 we successfully applied for a licence renewal (“the second half”). Before the end of that second period, in 2018, station manager Norman suddenly had a leg thrombosis which need life saving leg amputation. But Norman got back to broadcasting with 7 weeks and back to part time duty within 6 months. This period stressed the Flame team but they rallied in support to keep Flame burning. Remote control and home broadcasting played an essential part in this. In 2019 we successfully applied for another licence renewal (“extra time”) to 2024.
For such a time as this. No-one expected COVID with its stay at home lockdowns in 2020. But the Flame team felt the significance of Esther 4 v 14 … “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”. Government guidelines and rules said work from home but also allowed visits to workplace to prepare acts of worship. Flame studios being in a church fitted this, our Christian Radio calling is for “acts of worship”, and we could work mostly at home. Flame maintained 24×7 broadcasts and simulcasts throughout the 21 months period, for such a time as this. So while churches shut their doors and put their lights out, the Flame kept burning brightly.
Our internet simulcasts have listeners worldwide and since 2014 are on major internet portals, as also are our LISTEN AGAIN podcasts. Our YouTube channel has a number of short music videos, plus recorded Psalms.
A severe storm at the end of 2021 demolished our broadcasting antenna and damaged our medium wave transmitter so the time off-air was constructively used to improve our internet broadcasts (secure streams) and encourage listeners to step into the modern era, aided by the “Flame Radio app” on mobile phones.