Hope Radio, which broadcasts on 87.9 FM, was born during the coronavirus pandemic to quite literally bring hope to people in self isolation. The brains and driving force behind it is Peni Whelan, a community radio champion, who wanted to bring connectivity to people in social isolation. The logo of the radio station is a heart surrounded by the rainbow colours of diversity. Hope Radio was born on 9th May 2020 on the airwaves and given the nickname “Big People Radio”. Hope is aimed at a 50+ listeners that do not have or choose not to have internet access.
“Having internet access at the moment is great” said Peni Whelan who is in a pugilistic mood “but what if you don`t? What if you`re 70 years old and the only person you see is the postman? No social media to keep you company, no Zoom for you and no mobile phone – just the free view telly and the radio. Lunch club has been cancelled and you can`t visit your mates as their care home is in lockdown? We have a cunning plan and we are talking it old school. Baby!”
Hope Radio is not for profit that provides FM radio programs for a significant demographic to share experiences, to send messages to friends and family, to show their support for essential workers and to feel that they are not alone.
“With just an FM radio” explained Peni “our audience has the technology to get the latest advice, to get involved in local projects, to know how and where to get help, to request songs for their mates and family, to say happy birthday, to say thank you or goodbye, to feel involved, to be part of life, to feel hope – and that is what we all need right now – hope.”
Staff and Alumini at Birmingham City University are helping with media production and content. Hope Radio is about the mental health and morale for those least able to receive support.
“I was just chuffed to be invited to front my own show” explained Ian, who has presented shows on Black Country Radio, Legal TV and WCR FM in the past. “I got the call from Peni Whelan out of the blue asking me to be part of Team Hope. I felt like I had won the lottery. Radio is the most intimate form of communication. It`s just you and the listener. When you present a show you have to remember to smile all of the time because your listener will pick up on that in your voice. It`s a real responsibility because you have to constantly remember your listener comes first and you are representative of a community radio platform.”
Ian Henery presents The Ian Henery Show which broadcasts on Tuesday evenings between 8pm – 9pm every week on Hope Radio bringing the best of poetry and theatre from the region.
Ian Henery, who is also Walsall’s former poet Laureate and a Playwright, will present his self-titled poetry and theatre show every Tuesday evening on Hope Radio which is operating on a temporary emergency Covid-19 restricted service licence.