A COMMUNITY radio station can now broadcast to almost 60,000 people after becoming the first in the UK to get a signal boost.

Witney Radio 99.9FM has expanded its reach from 15,000 people to 58,000 after Ofcom agreed to increase its signal power.

The move is good news for listeners from across the district, who previously battled with poor reception on the traditional FM frequency outside the town boundary.

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They called for the station to apply for a power boost and the station's director and founder, Barry Clack, was happy to oblige.

He said: “We started to receive several emails a week from listeners asking us why the station dropped off when they drove a couple of miles out of town.

"We quickly realised that people really enjoy our mix of programming, and we have regular online listeners from elsewhere around the county.

"They told us it would be great to have the convenience of listening in the car or on a traditional radio at home, so we decided to apply for a power increase.”

Witney Radio can be streamed online and via smart speakers, but the majority of listeners still use FM radio.

After broadcast regulator Ofcom agreed to turn up the power, people can now tune in from as far afield as Kingston Bagpuize in the south, Charlbury in the north, Eynsham in the east and Burford in the west.

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The not-for-profit station was founded in 2012 and serves residents with a mix of information, live shows and music during the day.

Nearly 40 volunteers host roughly the same number of shows every week, with seven new recruits starting since the signal boost at the end of February.

As well as benefiting residents, the power increase will be welcome news to businesses who advertise on the station.

Witney Gazette:

Witney Radio's operations manager, Grant Grindley, said: “Because we’re a community station we’re not about making profits, we’re about covering our costs.

He added: "Radio advertising is a fantastic way for local companies to reach their target market, and now that market will be much bigger.”

On Friday, Witney Radio celebrated International Women's Day by handing control of the station to female presenters.

Women from across West Oxfordshire were interviewed during a range of shows between 7am and 8pm, including police community support officer (PCSO) Helen Keen and North Leigh FC's ladies team.

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Within 24 hours, 400 people had listened back to the chat with Ms Keen and Mr Clack said there are already plans for another event next year.

He said: "We were inundated with emails and social media messages about how well it went.

"Some people listened online and even congratulated us from outside the UK.

"It's definitely on the cards again."