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I have been privileged to be involved with Soundart Radio almost since it was a twinkle in the eye of a couple of students at Dartington College of Arts sometime back practically in the last century. Not quite. Inspiration, hard work, and some luck all combined to create what I think it one of the most vibrant radio stations anywhere in the world - and don’t take my word on that as plenty of people far more knowledgable than me have said so.
The luck came from the timing. Just as the UK was deciding it was politically expedient to catch up with most other countries and offer a slice of its bandwidth to citizen programming, Soundart Radio was just launched with a student radio license. Nell and Lucinda, never daunted, decided they should apply for one of the first UK community radio FM licenses, and became one of the handful of successful applicants in the first round of licenses awarded ever in the UK. More than that: not only were they the only station not to mimic commercial broadcasting, they were the only ones offering a business model that remained genuinely alternative. Permanently skint, probably, but proud to retain independence and not be tied down by commercial pressures and the constraints that investors and other speculative funders bring with them. Soundart Radio remains the only community broadcaster outside London with a remit to make experimental radio.
I’ve seen some amazing things happen here. Some amazing programming, of course, but also some real life-changing events that affirmed my belief in humanity as well as in radio. I’ve seen profoundly disabled young people manage their own programme slots, I’ve witnessed one young man who had not spoken at all in two years open out and blossom behind the microphone, I’ve seen people brought down by mental incapacity, depression and poverty find a voice for themselves, and emerge with a new-found confidence that has transformed their lives. 
And all this has happened on a shoestring. I don’t always think that’s a good thing - people deserve to be paid when something is their entire life (pretty much). Volunteers giving their time are tremendously important, but sometimes you just gotta find some money and help people live, too. And of course there are licenses to be paid for and equipment to maintain. The station does owe a debt of gratitude first to (the late-lamented) Dartington College of Arts, and then to the Dartington Hall Trust for providing the housing, however small it may at times have been, and keeping the power turned on. This hasn’t always happened easily, but it has happened and the station is still here and still broadcasting.
So bloody well done Soundart Radio. You make my heart sing.
 
Richard Povall, former Board Member and Chair of Soundart Radio and regular programme-maker.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter might be aware I've been hosting a fortnightly radio show recently. It's called Message From The Country and features music of a rural nature (acid folk, country funk, magical boondocks classic rock, agri-psych, mystic Americana), me rambling on about stuff like hares, folklore and walking up tors, a little bit of dead air due to my habit of fading up the wrong channel, and the odd robin or jackdaw joining in when I leave the studio doors open, which is often. Like the rest of Soundart's junk shop army of DJs, I don't get paid for this - actually, I'm unfair to say that, as I did once receive a large floret of broccoli and two courgettes after a particularly good show - because Soundart is a station run entirely by volunteers, which survives on donations and the amazing, infectious energy and enthusiasm of its founders, Chris and Lucinda. The breadth of programming is astounding, from the electro sexton Morecambe and Wise that are Ru and Claire (otherwise known as directors of The Green Funeral Company), to Dick Everett's beekeeping show, to the rural soundscapes of Tony Whitehead and Andy Dickinson, to Eccentric Voices (featuring Robert Davidson, who took the famous photograph of Frank Zappa sitting naked on the toilet), to Jared and Matthew's Random Radio, with its outdoor broadcasts and bold scotch egg eating challenges. There are frequent times, sitting in the studio, which is situated on the beautiful Dartington Estate and overlooks the Dart valley, when you find yourself blinking in disbelief that something so wild and wonderful exists in such a place, in the metropolitan-orientated, financially-squeezed artistic world of 2015. It can feel like living inside a small, hopeful, beautifully flawed dream, and it could be argued that right now there exists no greater and truer community-minded continuation of the egalitarian, philanthropic vision of Dartington's former owners, The Elmhirsts. That so many bright, imaginative, talented people work for Soundart for nothing is not just a testament to the experimental, loose approach Chris and Lucinda encourage but to a positivity that radiates from everything they do.
It's unlikely that everything on Soundart will be for you, but I can guarantee that within its eclectic mix you will find something to fall in love with. If there is a braver and more interesting radio station in Britain right now, I haven't heard it.

From writer Tom Cox's blog



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