Meet the local radio news teams punching above their weight

Kiss 101 (Bristol)

Racial inclusion Kiss 101 teamed up with local police for a project named "Everyone's Different".

Broadcasters Claire Stanley and Aimie Garner visited schools and talked to children about bullying, racism and hate crimes. They were given exclusive interviews with children who were the victims of hate crimes, such as attacks on their houses.

One child reported being pushed in front of a bus.

Stanley said her findings shocked her.

"We got a good response to it, especially with regards bullying in schools.

According to our listeners, it happens all the time," she said.

Kiss 101 has a small news team of just two reporters, so being nominated for an IRN award was a surprise. "We didn't even expect it — we're competing against news teams of six or seven people, but we got some really good exclusive audio that the BBC didn't have."

Mercury FM (Crawley)

Rogue Gatwick Airport parking News editor Gareth Davies and broadcast journalist Hannah Barnes found out, after speaking to people living around Gatwick Airport, that some of the parking companies that looked after passengers' cars while they were on holiday had begun parking them in residential areas.Davies and Barnes began their own investigation into the claims, watching the goings on in areas of Horley and monitoring cars over a period of a few days. They discovered that one particular company, Pink Meet and Greet, was parking clients' cars in residential areas day after day, sometimes with the doors unlocked and keys in the ignition.

After the initial report, Mercury FM did a follow-up, checking that the company had stopped doing it as promised, but listeners rang up and reported that the rogue parking was still going on.

The story was picked up by other media, and eventually ended up on Watchdog. Pink Meet and Greet has now ceased trading.

Davies said: "It's what you aim to do — to expose when something's going on that shouldn't be happening. We made a difference in the community as well. It was our broadcast that people were listening to — the company itself heard it, and because of that said they'd stop doing it."

TFM (Middlesborough)

Boro in bother Sports journalist David Easson uncovered an exclusive story in March last year when Middlesbrough FC were playing in a second-leg Uefa Cup away to AS Roma.

The night before the game, trouble sparked in a square when Middlesbrough fans were attacked by a gang of Italian hooligans. One of the fans who was under attack rang TFM's phone-in line for their late-night chat show, and was put straight on air by the host Gary Philipson.

Easson was in Rome at the time, reporting on the match, and was called by the station to follow up the story.

He said: "Having previously done news, I had kit with me that could work down a phone line, so I became a news journalist for the day. I managed to find some of the fans, who were staying in the hotel next to us."

Easson was the only local journalist there who had any method of getting any audio back, as the other sports journalists had ISDN points that only worked at the ground in the Olympic stadium.

Easson sat in his hotel feeding stories back and doing vox-pops, and then went on to report the night's match.

He said: "It was the best reporting day of my career. I'd been a news journalist for about two years at TFM and it got the old hunger back — it's nice to know I can still do it. It was the busiest day I'd had. They're normally just jollies where you go off and get drunk with other sports journalists. The hotel phone bill was quite high, but it was worth it."

The story was picked up by the national press and the audio of the fansbeing attacked was on the BBC Six O'Clock News.

Easson said it was quite rare for one of the station's stories to go national. "It's not the busiest news patch. We try to be a local as possible, but it's a testament to the localness of the station that if someone is being attacked in Italy the first thing he does is ring TFM. Very strange, but it worked very well for us."

Radio Forth (Edinburgh)

Jack McConnell refuses to support England in the World Cup Pressure had been building up on First Minister McConnell during the election to say who he'd be supporting in the World Cup. Forth political correspondent Colin MacKay interviewed him on his way to First Minister's questions, and he revealed that he wouldn't be supporting England in the World Cup.

The story was then picked up on by the national press, as well as being discussed in Scottish Parliament and Westminster.

MacKay said: "People in Scotland aren't going to support England, so it probably gained him political kudos in Scotland because people were saying ‘at least he's being honest'

"It is quite cool when something like that takes off. I remember I was watching some of the games and when there was nothing much happening the pundits were talking about it."

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