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8 Pall Mall
Stoke on Trent
Crowd backs launch of new local radio station
Cheesy FM was the idea of Andy Peacock who had 27 years experience in the radio industry. With that came the knowledge of how to launch a radio station. His aim was to tap in to the popularity of ‘guilty pleasure’ music from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. In 2015 Andy began to test trade his idea and established a successful online radio station. With support from Martin Russell, Enterprise Coach from Business Enterprise Support, in 2016 Andy was able to take the radio station to a much wider audience as DAB stations were launched in Manchester and Portsmouth.
Over time Andy had been investing his own funds into Cheesy FM.
However, as the business grew so did the need to build a soundproof studio for the live broadcasts. Together with Martin, Andy developed a business plan and financial forecasts under the Start & Grow programme which enabled him to successfully apply for a £7,000 Virgin Start Up Loan. The loan was used to take the broadcasting of Cheesy FM from the cupboard under the stairs to a proper studio facility.
The station began the search for an investor but in the interim funds were needed for essential licences and equipment maintenance. Cheesy FM turned to Cavendish Crowd, the crowdfunding platform for new and growing businesses and set themselves the fund target of £5,000 to assist with these costs. Launching their crowdfunding project on their own required a lot of effort. Andy says “I had real reservations about crowdfunding as I felt it could undervalue us as a radio station. Most of our listeners believe we are a ‘big’ station with lots of money and backing behind us and I was concerned that launching a crowdfunding project might risk how people would perceive us.”
However, Cheesy FM successfully hit its £5,000 target and was duly able to obtain the necessary licences to continue. Audience listening figures for the DAB station in Manchester show that since the station was launched on 30 May 2016 listener numbers doubled from 10,000 per month to 20,000 per month in July, clearly demonstrating the huge appetite for the concept of Cheesy FM. Hopefully this also demonstrates that taking the risk to go with a crowdfunding plea did not harm the business’ reputation in any way.
The radio station now broadcasts around the clock and is on track to grow and expand further. Andy is now paving the way for an angel investor to come on board to help run the company and push its growth forward. As for crowdfunding Andy says “It does require a lot of effort, but if you require the funds and can offer something that people value then I’d say ‘go for it’ !”
Under the Start & Grow programme Andy received 12 hours support and attended dedicated training days. He leveraged a £7,000 loan and crowdfunded in excess of £5,000 as well as investing personal funds in to the business. Cheesy FM has created 3 jobs.