Leeds Dance Community radio revives FM’s ‘lost art’

FM has found a new lease of life in Leeds Dance Community radio.

Thursday, 30th July 2020, 8:24 pm

With the launch of the station earlier this year, LDC are changing the way young people interact with FM radio, a format that on the surface appears to be on its last legs.

With the decline of FM listenership and the incorporation of dozens of local stations into Bauer media, you wouldn’t be alone in thinking that the time has passed for a radio revival. Yet after speaking with members of LDC, it seems that their action plan to get the younger generation involved evokes a sense of optimism for radio’s lifespan.

Growing up in the loving arms of pirate radio, resident DJ and co-founder of LDC Daniel James recalls a partnership between FM and modern music culture that looks to be lacking in contemporary local radio.

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“It was an entire musical experience; you’d be out at nightclubs till the early hours, grab a few hours sleep and be up again, tuning in to the radio the next morning to hear the same music from the night before,” he says. “DJs knew what we wanted to hear and made the effort to give us exactly that, they cared about the music and us more than anything.”

It’s this sentiment exactly that LDC are striving to recreate; reaching out to a youth disenfranchised from FM, rebuilding a bond lost over time and giving radio a much-needed breath of life.

With FM’s shelf-life being extended by another ten years thanks to new government guidelines, it’s clear that LDC aren’t the only ones who think it’s a culture worth saving. Granted the sought-after power to broadcast across the entirety of Leeds by Leeds City Council, LDC are taking on the mammoth task of rebranding what it means to be a community radio station. DJ’s from all walks of life broadcast daily, some from the comfort of their own homes, playing an eclectic mix of dance music that resonates with listeners young and old.

Yet even with curated music topping the ranks, there’s been a shift in what young people want out of their radio presenters too, and this is just as important to the people at LDC.

“Young people want presenters who are as passionate about dance music as they are,” says Daniel. “They don’t want a DJ playing them stuff that the big companies and conglomerates are pushing, they want a DJ who goes out of their way to find what they know their audience will like. People want individuality and character now, not cookie-cutter presenters with a list of songs they’re being told to play.”

With tactfully selected music and presenters, Leeds Dance Community radio are racking up the numbers with an option to tune in using a stream on their website, catering for those without access to FM. It’s these efforts to accommodate for a younger generation that LDC believes is making the station a success, alongside their work supporting the community solidifying their place in Leeds.

With discounted advertising for local businesses, regular competitions and free commercials for the NHS and mental health charity Leeds Mind, LDC are using their platform to help as many people as possible, managing to stay grounded in its purpose to entertain at the same time.

It’s granted that FM radio won’t revert the progress made by DAB and online stations over recent years, yet even so, to see a station fighting back conjures a sense of hope for FM. Enveloping many a generation into the station through a love of dance music and the local community, LDC are giving life to a somewhat lost art, finding it its place in a digital era.