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Excitement is growing in three Hampshire communities as a local radio station launches this week (6th April). Spitfire Radio​ serves Southampton​, Christchurch ​& The New Forest​, with a particular focus on local communities and specialist programming on food, tech, caring, history and the forces.

The station was kickstarted with a crowdfunding campaign that, both direct and via a JustGiving page, raised £2083​. That is all of the money needed to cover the first year’s costs which included server rental, insurance, broadcast software, content subscriptions and royalty licence fees.

Catie Lake, Managing Editor, wanted to thank everyone who has supported her so far – both in kind and through supporting to the relaunch campaign. ‘The response from local people has been fantastic and it has proved to me that there is still a demand for our own local radio station in the New Forest – especially from local musicians and their supporters looking to build a fanbase fans of their work.

‘Ongoing funding is now being secured through advertising sales, show sponsorship. Spitfire is also commitment to encouraging listeners to ‘Shop Local’ and support businesses right on our doorstep.’

Catie, who embarked on her radio career when she was 17 years old and is 42 next month, has faced several setbacks over the years herself – including gender dysphoria, resulting in gender reassignment surgery when she was 27.

She is also on the Autistic Spectrum (although mildly) and has a cognitive processing disorder which can make reading and conversation difficult sometimes,

Now Catie has had to deal with a fresh blow after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in November. The early stages have already affected her life from poor balance and vertigo – to loss of concentration occasionally and vision disturbances.

She said the revelation has sparked her decision to launch the new station, adding: “For five years I have procrastinated over whether to bring local radio back to the New Forest.

“I have grown to love a challenge and this diagnosis has made me realise that it’s now or never. I want Spitfire Radio to be used as a vehicle to raise money for other people leading challenging lives.

“Truly local radio has all but been wiped out by national brands sweeping up our traditional stations and turning them into clones of each other. With advances in technology, as well changing consumer habits and listener demands, the radio industry has indeed had to embrace diversification and connect in a wider number of ways with its audience. That shouldn’t mean you lose sight of who you’re serving!

Spitfire will become should be a go-to station to share our experiences, passions and challenges – not only as local people – but also as neighbours. If life’s a stage, then this is the PA system!’’

“The station has been set up a commercial station – meaning it will be in the position to hold its own campaigns and support local charity events.”

Catie added through the station, she intends to support the MS Society, a forces charity and local causes across the target area.

The station can be found at www.spitfireradio.co.uk as well as accessed via the TuneIn and radio.net apps on both iOS and Android.

EDITOR’S NOTES:

The station is targeted its output at the 25-55 age range and has chosen not to pursue an FM broadcast licence – instead concentrating it’s efforts and valuable income on developing Spitfire’s digital coverage and in-house programme production.

By encouraging listeners to ‘tune in’ to Spitfire using their domestic internet connection, their preferred mobile phone network and wi-fi enabled devices,

The station is partnering with its local newspaper and local authorities – particularly the Hampshire County Council backed traffic monitoring service, ROMANSE – to bring listeners the latest news and updates on issues that can affect local listeners.

Spitfire airs regular news and weather bulletins as well as the latest sport, showbiz and business headlines. It also runs a ‘Noticeboard’ feature which includes announcements, event details and appeals sent in by listeners via e-mail and social media.