Community Radio: More Than You Think

Living Magazines Community Radio Presenter Matt Hatton

‘Alexa, play Radio Dacorum on TuneIn’ – these words get you to a world of local music, chat and information brought to you by people from our community. But that is just the tip of the iceberg, sitting at the point where community radio reaches out into your speakers. Behind the scenes, community radio is working to make a positive difference to people’s lives across Dacorum by providing support and services to those who need it.

One example of this is Paul. Paul lives with autism; he also lives with his gran! Like many neuro-diverse people, social interactions are a challenge for Paul and his world feels different to others. Radio Dacorum got a call from Paul’s gran asking if he could volunteer with the station. The problem was that Paul wasn’t able to talk to our team directly on the phone and his gran was the go-between. A few reasonable adjustments later and Paul joined the team as a producer, setting up music on the computers and preparing them for the on-air team to broadcast. That was until the day that the presenter didn’t turn up. On that day, and with a little nervous laughter, Paul stepped up to broadcast and he found that a radio studio is a great place for him. He could control the volume, who was in the room, what happened around him and yet was speaking to thousands of people he didn’t know. Nine months later, thanks to the confidence he had gained by broadcasting his regular show, Paul got a customer-facing job in one of the shops in the Marlowes. The biggest impact was on his gran, who for the first time felt that Paul ‘would be OK’ when she was no longer around.

Another way that Radio Dacorum makes a difference to local residents is through the programming that is broadcast being tailored to truly reflect very local needs. On Wednesday lunch times, Radio Dacorum’s ‘Music for Memory’ show is broadcast. The programme aims to help people who live with dementia and is played out to care homes. Music is chosen to stimulate the memory and is mixed in with local requests from the care home staff and residents. Talking straight to the listener, Matt Hatton (pictured) presents the music as if he is in the same room. ‘I started the program for my Dad really,’ Matt explains. ‘We were out on a drive and I noticed that when the oldies came on the radio he would light up and sing along, it was like having him back again in all his glory.’

Matt was inspired to share this with more people and so devised a show that would make a difference to people. ‘It’s been a great success,’ he continues. ‘I love getting requests from the residents and because Radio Dacorum has such a wide range of music in our database, I can usually play anything I’m asked for.’ Dr. Rachel Daly, a nurse  specialising in dementia care, explains: ‘Many people living with dementia have strong memories of when they were younger. Music can be a powerful tool for unlocking and stimulating these memories.’

Radio Dacorum also makes a difference to people’s lives through sharing public information. Recently the team has been sharing up-to-date accurate information about the Covid vaccination program with hard-to-reach communities across Hertfordshire. ‘There are a number of communities that we have found difficult to work with when using printed materials.’ Linda Nateghi, the manager of Community Action Dacorum’s Covid Information Champions project explains. ‘Through our regular Tuesday lunchtime show, we have been able to speak to around 10,000 people and allay some of their fears about being vaccinated. This means more people are safer thanks to Radio Dacorum.’ Dr. Tup Dutta, a retired GP and Covid Information Champion says: ‘There is so much information available through the internet that it is important for us to ensure we all have the best information available to make informed decisions. This is why I have been proud to be a part of these shows to answer people’s questions about the vaccine and why I applaud Jim (McManus – Director of Public Health in Hertfordshire) for commissioning the shows.’

Simon Aulton, Chief Executive of Community Action Dacorum, adds: ‘We are very proud of Radio Dacorum and all the volunteer presenters that make it so special. Not only is it informing, educating, and entertaining, but it is also having a first-hand impact on people who listen or join in. Who could ask for more than that?’

So, next time you are in front of a smart speaker try saying, ‘Hey Google!  Play Radio Dacorum’ and enter a world that is making a difference to your community.

If you would like to get involved with Radio Dacorum, as a presenter, producer or listener, take a look at the website or just talk to Siri! You can also book Radio Dacorum to enhance your event by contacting the events team at

Radio Dacorum is a service provided for Dacorum by Community Action Dacorum.