Rombalds Radio presenters and founders Nick Babb and Stuart Clarkson got the chance to speak to the Culture Secretary during a reception for champions of local media held at Downing Street last week.
Nick and Stuart, who set up the digital radio service for Ilkley, Skipton and Keighley during the pandemic in 2020, spoke to Lucy Frazer about the station and its plans to expand to broadcast on DAB in the future.
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport hosted the Local Media Champions reception at 10 Downing Street for dozens of people from across the UK on Wednesday (19th April) to celebrate the important work of outlets including radio stations, community websites, magazines and newspapers. She thanked those present for their efforts in connecting local communities to events and activities during challenging times for the local news industry. She also highlighted the key role hyper-local media can play in holding politicians to account.
Ilkley resident Nick Babb and Stuart Clarkson, who’s from Silsden, were invited to the event as guests of the Keighley and Ilkley MP Robbie Moore, who has himself appeared on the radio station a handful of times to answer questions from listeners about both local and national issues.
Nick, who also runs the Ilkley Chat web and social platforms, said: “It was quite surreal to walk through the famous door of Number 10, but a real honour to be invited to make the trip to London in recognition of our work to create a professional radio station for our area that connects audiences with everything going on locally.”
Stuart added: “What an experience to attend an actual party in Downing Street! We were pleased to get a few minutes to speak directly with the minister in charge of radio, to discuss some of the themes of the upcoming Media Bill and how the government can support projects like ours to grow and thrive in a changing landscape for the industry.”
Robbie Moore, MP for Keighley & Ilkley, said: “From keeping us informed about the latest news and events to shining a light on the issues that matter most across Keighley, Ilkley, Silsden and the Worth Valley, our local media outlets provide a vital service to residents and play an essential role in our democracy.
"It was therefore an honour to invite two local media champions, Stuart Clarkson and Nick Babb, to Downing Street to celebrate their contribution to our local media. Stuart and Nick are a real local media success story, setting up Rombalds radio in 2020 and growing it from strength to strength since then - covering news stories from across Keighley and Ilkley and hosting a brilliant radio station for the Aire and Wharfe Valleys.
"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all those who work tirelessly to keep us informed, whether at the Keighley News, the Ilkley Gazette, Rombalds Radio or Ilkley Chat. It is vital that we continue to support local media by subscribing to their newspapers, tuning in to their radio stations, and engaging with them on social media. Local media has never been so important."
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer said: "Local journalism helps local areas stay connected, generates local pride and keeps communities engaged in local issues. Local journalists capture the heart of our communities and make sure politicians are doing their jobs better by holding them to account.
"It was wonderful to be joined by local journalists from across the country in Downing Street last week - from community news sites, radio shows and free sheets - to thank them for their work to keep communities connected."
Rombalds Radio - named after folklore giant Rombald who is said to have lived on the moors between the Aire and Wharfe valleys - was launched by professional broadcasters Nick and Stuart in August 2020 and continues to attract new audiences each week. A small team of presenters, each with years of experience on commercial radio or the BBC, keep listeners updated with what’s happening across the Ilkley, Skipton and Keighley areas in amongst an upbeat mix of music from the 60s through to the present day.
The station’s website and smartphone app are packed with local news content, event listings and showcases for local charities and community projects. The radio station also provides a cost-effective marketing platform for local businesses to reach local people. Rombalds Radio has also provided presenters to host numerous local events over the past three years including Ilkley Carnival, Skipton Christmas Lights Switch-On, Skipton Sheep Day and Silsden Proms on the Farm.
Co-founders Nick Babb and Stuart Clarkson both previously worked for local commercial radio stations Fresh Radio and Stray FM, which have since become part of the national Greatest Hits Radio with programmes no longer being broadcast from the area. Nick is also the founder of the award-winning Ilkley Chat which celebrates its 10th birthday this year. Alongside his work for Rombalds Radio, Stuart is a freelance newsreader for BBC Radio 5 Live.
Rombalds Radio is currently available online, via its dedicated smartphone app and on smart speakers such as Alexa and Google devices. The station plans to become available on DAB digital radio when a new multiplex begins broadcasts across the Aire and Wharfe valleys. The timescales will be determined by the media regulator, Ofcom, which has yet to advertise a licence for this area.
Find out more and tune in today at rombaldsradio.com, download the Rombalds Radio app for Apple or Android devices, or ask your smart speaker to “Play Rombalds Radio”.