2019 Newstalk AGM - Chairman’s Report.

2018/19 has been another successful year for Bolton Newstalk, I am delighted to say. The reasons for this are numerous but include: -

 

• Increase in circulation - possibly assisted by use of the podcasts?

 

• Podcasts, as a means of relaying our programmes - thanks to Declan. Progress from reel-reel to cassette to USB stick to podcast keeps us up with technical progress and several of the new contacts we are making are delighted with this aspect. We are in the forefront of talking newspapers production, from what I am led to believe, so thank you Declan for instigating this format.

 

• Finances remain in a very healthy state, more of which you will hear from Gaynor in her Treasurer’s report. We haven’t had any major donations in the form of bequests this year, as in previous years, but we continue to receive smaller donations from listeners, as well as local charitable organisations for which we are both humbled and deeply appreciative.

 

• Contact established with Bolton fm - another outlet for our publicity purposes

 

• Thanks to the unsung volunteers in our team - it’s easy to thank my fellow producers for the sterling work they do, and also the readers of their various teams as their voices are heard on a weekly basis, but I must thank wholeheartedly the rest of the production team - the studio managers (who now have additional duties to perform with the advent of the podcast) & especially the copiers. We are always on the lookout for people to assist with the copying duties and have issued appeals on a regular basis on the weekly programmes, as well as on Bolton FM, but unfortunately, to date, those appeals have not really borne fruit.

 

• Good working relationship with Henshaw’s - networking opportunities provided by them. Also with the Eye Unit at Royal Bolton Hospital; Ambition for Ageing team from the local Council.

 

• Thanks to my committee - Gaynor on accounts; June, in her role as senior producer, but especially to secretary, Jim Walton who, as well as dealing with all necessary paperwork etc for committee meetings, also finds time to be a studio manager at recordings, heads at least one of the teams of copiers, and fills in there when there is an emergency, liaises with Henshaw’s/Bolton Council etc and has now established the magazine recordings which go out in lieu of our usual recordings at Christmas and Easter times.

 

• Regarding our producers, i am delighted to say that we have a new one in the wings, who will be joining us at end of the current rota - Frances Clemmitt, one of June’s regular readers - welcome to the team, Frances. i hope that your stay in your new role will be a long and successful one. Frances is joining our production team as a replacement for Michael Tatman, so she has rather large boots to fill - no disrespect to the size of Michael’s or Frances’ footwear, but because of the void that we have to fill, as a result of the retirement of Michael Tatman who has been with Newstalk, virtually since its inception in the 1970’s and has fulfilled a variety of roles.  We will revert back to this item towards the end of the Agenda, but suffice to say, that we welcome Frances on board when she starts her duty on the rota in August, and we thank Michael for his time and superb efforts in his various roles over the years.

 

• The studio here is used by us and occasionally by Henshaw’s as an extra space for them and I thank the technical team who have carried out a clearing of some of the technical gubbins in that room. To my untrained eye, we still have more technical equipment than we need, but I expect to be shot down in flames should I press that point too far.

 

• As Chairman, I feel that we are inching towards my goal to heighten Newstalk’s profile in the town, but I feel that a greater effort is needed, by getting involved with other organisations connected with the disabled and disadvantaged and also with other ‘talking newspaper organisations’, several of whom in the North West have fallen by the wayside.

 

• However, it hasn’t all been good news  - on two fronts. Firstly, earlier this year, a dear friend and former President of Newstalk, Sheila Coates, passed away. Sheila, and husband Neville, were great supporters of Newstalk as long as they were both able and Neville continues to be one of our listeners. A few of us attended a lovely memorial service for Sheila at Bank Street Chapel, and our thoughts and commiserations go out to Neville and his family in their grief.

 

 

• The second cause of concern for me, and others, is the source of our items which currently remains The Bolton News, and I’m sure that I speak for all producers in saying that the future of that publication concerns me as their paper copy now seems to be made up of adverts, a more photographs than appear in a family album and a plethora of items that are of little or no use to us as newsworthy items for us to broadcast to our listeners. Jim Walton and I have discussed this matter several times and we are beginning to form the opinion that our future is one of providing a magazine, with a variety of “non-news” items, but which contain items that may be of interest to our customers. The ones that we have done have included recipes, poems, short stories, quizzes and, at Christmas, a recording of a local primary school choir. Such a change to the usual format may well entail a complete rethink on how we continue our service and the committee will look into this matter over the next 12 months.

 

• I thank you for your attention, ladies and gentleman, and commend this section of the report to you but confirm that I will come back to it towards the end of the Agenda.

Bolton Cares

We are pleased to be working now with Bolton Cares, an independent non-profit organisation whose shares are wholly owned by Bolton Council and which, in various ways, has expressed its support for the work of Bolton Newstalk.

 

Our membership numbers have been variable and not easy to establish accurately, but we have about 105 active members, including Studio Engineers, Producers, Copiers and Readers, and (again approximately) just under 200 listeners.

 

It has been pleasing to note that the number of Studio Engineers, where there was often a shortage, has risen to six, with more interest being expressed. There are seven Producers, who spend time over a week to select and present the material from The Bolton News and from other sources. It is to be hoped that future rotas of team compositions can avoid the same Producer working with the same Studio Engineer each time; a little cross-fertilisation and inter-action can only contribute to the standard of our programmes.