LDC Radio 1 Year On

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Last month marked the one-year anniversary of local Leeds radio station, LDC Radio. Opened in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, the odds were stacked against its success. On the day of its launch, 16th June 2020, the UK was in the midst of the most severe health crises in recent history. COVID-19’s impact on the world’s economy has been devastating and caused almost a quarter of all businesses to close, at least temporarily. The worst hit sector was arts and entertainment, in which 82% of businesses were forced to shut in the midst of the UK’s various lockdowns. However, LDC is celebrating completing its first year in business, culminating high listening figures and recently receiving its first radio award.

Since its launch, the heart of LDC has been its community. Opening during the coronavirus pandemic posed countless challenges, primarily the staff’s inability to access their premises. But it also provided a unique way to support the public in a time of unparalleled social isolation. According to a 2020 Ofcom report, the numbers of young people listening to the radio dramatically declined during the UK’s lockdowns as a result of a lack of commuter listening. Therefore, the sense of community offered by radio listening was at a loss in the country’s younger generations at a time when social isolation was at its most severe.

Simultaneously, the country’s nightlife and entertainment sector was at devastating low, with Leeds nightclubs, bars and entertainment spaces all closed as a result of coronavirus restrictions. In creating a radio station entitled ‘Leeds Dance Community’, this station created a sense of communal participation and entertainment which had been dashed by the pandemic and was at a catastrophic low within the younger demographic.

LDC aimed to bring the dance experience into people’s homes and provide an outlet which enabled all the listeners to enjoy the same sets at the same time, creating a community within the bounds of isolation. Furthermore, the station is free to access for anyone, either on DAB, online or through smart speakers, making the station inclusive and it’s results wide-reaching. And in the midst of extensive corporations and widescale businesses, LDC is run by Leeds locals, from within the city, resulting in a station whose sole priority is its community.  

But as well as achieving its primary goal of providing a collective dance experience to individual households, LDC has been involved in the local business community. They’ve consistently communicated which companies are open and which are operating online or under restrictions. Providing this platform to local businesses has helped support them in times of extreme challenges and economic downturn, and has helped the local economy get back on its feet.

The arts have been one of the most heavily impacted sectors throughout COVID-19, and this has posed a consequential challenge to local artists, which LDC has been able to support in its first year on air. The station launched DJ competitions open to everyone in the local area, in which applicants submitted a DJ mix with the winner being awarded a live Friday night radio slot on the station. This allowed young DJs to get a leg up into an industry, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Furthermore, both established and up-and-coming artists have also been given access to the platform to spread their music to large local audiences and kickstart their careers in the music industry. The producers at LDC are delighted with their opportunity to provide a platform to young artists in a time of immense difficulty, and are proud to be able to support the arts and music community, which is so important in our society.

As well as working directly within the music sector, LDC radio have been supporting local events companies who have been severely impacted by the pandemic. COVID-19 restrictions forced several local festivals and gigs to close, not only disappointing fans but also denying local artists the chance to make a mark on their industry. Unity Day, a local Leeds festival, has been forced to cancel its August performances, but in response to this disappointment, LDC are providing their radio studio to the artists involved who will be performing their sets over the airwaves, ensuring they still get a platform on which to showcase their work. 

It’s not only within the music industry that LDC have been able to support their community. Since launching in June 2020, the station has been involved with local schools, charities and universities, offering experience to students to enhance the education of local people, and raising awareness of challenges faced within our community. LDC launched the Cool School competition which encouraged children from local schools to write entries describing what made their school the best, and winners were all issued £100 book vouchers to support the development of reading skills in the local community. Airtime was also issued to spokespeople from the Leeds charity Homeless Street Angels in order to spread the word about local issues.

In a year of historical events and unmatched business challenges, LDC radio has managed to make a huge impact on its community. They’ve generated large local audiences to support the arts and entertainment industry and their city, and have run competitions, takeovers and awareness campaigns to support their hometown. But perhaps most of all, they have provided a community at a time when young people have been most at a loss. The station has provided a means of connection and shared experience even in the depths of isolation, making LDC radio a significant piece in the COVID-19 social survival puzzle.

The 2020 Ofcom report:

Written by: Melissa Watson

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