1st August 2017 – 2017 marks a 15 year milestone for the Great Dorset Steam Fair’s own radio station, Steam Fair FM.
Recalling the first broadcast in 2003, Licence holder and General Manager Patrick Heeley says “Chris Evans and I , with the support of publisher Paul Appleton, made an approach to the GDSF board. They didn’t know quite what to make of the idea of a radio station attached to the show, but both Michael and Martin Oliver were keen to give it a go. It was finally agreed just five weeks before the 2003 show, and we were under great pressure to create a whole new radio station very quickly indeed!”
The show initially provided a single portakabin for the station, which even then broadcast 24 hours a day. ”There were actually only three of us there, operating a 24 hour station, which was daunting.” Says Patrick “There was no time for much publicity, and we weren’t sure if people even knew we were on air!”
Patrick formed Event Radio Associates, and assumed full responsibility for the station in 2007, by which time it was operating from two double-stacked “portakabins of power”. That year also marked the commencement of streaming the broadcast online – enabling the show to reach out to a worldwide audience.
The need for more permanent premises, with “always on” broadband and power supply, saw Steam Fair FM move in to farm offices in Tarrant Hinton in 2011. Then in 2015, it seemed the station would need to close due to increasing financial pressures. When the decision was announced, GDSF’s Facebook page was flooded with disappointed comments, and out of the face of adversity came a new partnership between the show, Event Radio Associates, and the National Traction Engine Trust. This partnership is now in its third year, and working well.
Purpose built twin studios were then built at the top of the showground, giving Steam Fair FM a permanent base, with the benefit of mains power and superfast broadband. The higher position for the transmission mast enables strong coverage on FM not only across the showground, but a significant surrounding area.
Old Glory Magazine was one of the first advertisers in 2003, and following a gap of many years is now back on air under new owners Kelsey Media. Editor Colin Tyson, who also compiles the show programme, will be in the studio regularly, contributing his observations on items of interest around the showground.
On Sunday evening (August 27th), Show MD Martin Oliver takes the guest chair at 6.30 pm to discuss the show, and respond to listeners’ questions
Listeners will be familiar with the station’s popular mix of showground reports, ‘vox pops’ from visitors, ‘what’s on’ news, up to the minute weather, traffic and daily prize competitions – with music comprising ‘vintage hits’ from the 1950s to the 1980s. This year’s special feature celebrates 50 years since the formation of Status Quo, with a Quo classic airing every hour!
Steam Fair FM’s daily presentation team will comprise experienced regulars Jon Robson, Tony Weaver, Roger Wrapson, Patrick Heeley, John Church, and Chris Day, plus Dorset-based newcomer Daniel Roth from Forest FM .
Steam Fair FM’s service on 87.9FM and online commences at midnight on Saturday 19th August, running 24/7 until Tuesday 29th August, the day after the show closes.
For more information, go to www.steamfairfm.com.