OSCAR Radio is Longest Running Student Radio Station

20170222 OSCAR Radio 024Why are you reading an article about the radio, you ask? With TV, computers, iPlayers, tablets and phones, hasn’t radio seen its glory days?

The first radio news programme was broadcast in 1920, followed by the first television in 1927, but it wasn’t until the summer of 1951 that the first colour television broadcast was launched. It might seem that with the rapid advancement of media communication, radio and TV would no longer be viable. But actually, that hasn’t happened. Statistics from the Radio Joint Audience Research show that 90% of the adult UK population tune in to a radio every week. 31 million adults in the UK claim to own a DAB radio.

OSCAR Radio 87.9FM is the official Oundle School radio station and since its first broadcast in 1998 has been one of the longest running school FM radio stations in the UK. In its 19 years of broadcasting, OSCAR has involved over 2000 young broadcasters, and to this day continues to be the only entirely student run radio station in the country. Since receiving its UK Restricted Service Licence, OSCAR has broadcast shows full of charisma and talent; from music and news to sport and entertainment.

The annual broadcasts for OSCAR radio, which airs for four weeks in November and for two in March, incorporates the help of around 100 students who pride themselves in committing to their various roles, whether as presenters, technicians or directors.

I’ve been part of OSCAR Radio for a year as one of its directors. It is incredible to see the amount of enthusiasm and passion people affiliated with the radio are eager to put into everything they do, whether as directors, technicians and presenters or simply those invited for an interview. The radio has become a second home for many of us.

Over the years OSCAR has had some famous visitors who have contributed their well-recognised voices to an OSCAR ident, including Jo Brand, Gary Lineker, Henry Winter, DJ Spoonie, Greg from Scouting for Girls. BBC Radio DJ Liz Kershaw even gave a talk and offered some useful tips.

Chris Pettitt, chairman and founder of the radio gives an insight into OSCAR’s history.

‘OSCAR was founded in September 1997, when a group of teachers and pupils presented the case for a school radio station to senior management, following a consultant assessment of the school’s suitability for hosting such an ambitious project. After the presentation, it was agreed to set up the project. In January 1998, a contract with a radio installation company was arranged to provide a radio control room, a newsroom, and a recording studio ready for a launch in November 1998.’

Sir Howard Stringer, a former student at Oundle School and former Chairman of Sony Corporation has been a major supporter of the student radio initiative.

In 2003, OSCAR Radio moved to its own purpose-built studios on North Street. In 2016, it relocated once again to the top floor of the Gascoigne Building to be closer to the music technology department. The studio hosts a fully equipped broadcast studio featuring a computer playout system, a separate newsroom, DJ booth, an archive area and eight production workstations capable of functioning as a copy of a current small-scale UK radio station.

OSCAR’s radio reach extends to much of the surrounding area with a radius of nearly eight miles. However, it is through the website, that the station is able to extend its broadcast across the world.

Throughout the last season, there were listeners from all over the world tuning into Oundle.

By Elinor Nikolova
May 2017