I've been unusually quiet for the last three weeks - always a sure sign that there's a deadline looming. Sure enough the new edition of Old Trafford News will be returning from the printers tomorrow. These few days are always a nervous time as we await the new batches - half expecting them to return with the cover printed upside down or some such. But in a day or two we'll be getting the new content up on line and I'll post some more about some of the excellent articles our volunteers have conjured up later this week.
In the few days of downtime between the demands of printing and distribution, I've turned my thoughts back to community radio. This weekend I've been at Radio Regen's Community FM conference at MANCAT, just up the road in Openshaw. It was a great couple of days, not least because the practicalities of running a community radio station are 90% compatible with those of running a community magazine - so the event was a goldmine of useful tips and refreshers on everything from recruiting and developing volunteers to selling advertising. The networking opportunities were invaluable too - not least a friendly lunch with Jacqui and Bill from the Community Media Association. I won't bore you with the details, but in the past there have been some obstacles to community magazines joining the CMA. It appears that over a couple of crab salad sandwiches they may have been resolved. Such is the power of seafood.
But the most enjoyable aspect of community radio gatherings is the opportunity to chat to community media professionals and enthusiasts from around the country and around the world. It is always a privilege to meet up with Zane Ibrahim of Bush Radio, Cape Town - perhaps the most inspirational figure in community media in the world today. I was also delighted to meet Henry Loeser, not least because he was full of compliments for the Community Radio Toolkit - "in years to come this book will be seen as a benchmark for community radio in the UK - everything else can grow from this foundation." I think those were his words, but I was so busy modestly dissembling that I may have misheard him. (Come to think of it, he may have been talking about a completely different book altogether.)
At the other end of the experience spectrum: a well-deserved award at the end of the conference went to a group of youngsters from East London, Streetlife FM. Their enthusiasm and energy bubbled across the workshops and the conference hall, and the top-notch broadcast microphone they won could not have gone to a better home. Here's to a long and glittering future for them.
Community FM was host to innumerable success stories and countless admirable characters from community radio stations as far apart as Aberdeen and Cornwall. These projects are often inspirational, inventive and incredibly effective. Of course you won't see many reports in the national newspapers about them. But it only takes one downright idiot to send an unforgivable, shameful email and lo and behold, we're in the nation's favourite.
It's none of my business really, but suffice to say that I understand the gentleman in question is still in his job, and personally I'm very, very surprised about that.