Volunteers create new local sound and vision

Gavin Hyatt sets up the recording room

Gavin Hyatt sets up the recording room

First published in News Bicester Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , Education Reporter, also covering West Oxford. Call me on (01865) 425437

OxBox was formed from former members of Witney TV – a community TV project – and has spread across the county.

As the group looks to celebrate its third birthday on March 18, it will launch a new online radio station for Oxfordshire.

But all of its 50 contributors work on the project in their spare time, balancing full-time jobs with the demands of an ever-growing website.

OxBox can now boast an audience of 30,000 people, which in part could be put down to its match highlights of Oxford City FC matches and its promotion of upcoming county bands.

Director and co-founder Gavin Hyatt is a plumber and former fireman and is proud of what the website has achieved in the past three years.

The Hailey father-of-four explained: “It started off with us doing a couple of hours as and when but we are needing to spend more time on it as it grows.

“We hit our peak last year when we had 30,000 unique visitors and we now have people contributing from all over the county.”

The group now aims to make money by selling advertising spots during broadcasts and hopes this will generate enough to hire full-time staff.

Mr Hyatt said: “We are hoping to expand our sports coverage with Oxford City and with the ice hockey. We are the main people providing coverage for them and more and more people are coming to us now.

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“And we are able to give upcoming bands a place to feature their music and give them a forum they may not neccesarily get. We’ve found those have been our key places where we are getting a lot of interest.”

Bicester Advertiser:

  • Richard Kibbey designed the website

In the meantime the labour of love provides enough glamour to keep volunteers interested. Website designer Richard Kibbey, for example, was invited to film some work for Henley-based charity Sunflower Jam, run by Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice’s wife Jacky, but the encounter ended up being far more glitzy than he had imagined.

Mr Kibbey, 41, of Carterton, said: “I turned up, expecting there to be other music media there but it was just me. Then not only was Ian there, but Jeremy Irons, Newton Faulkner, Rick Wakeman and singer Joe Brown.

Bicester Advertiser:

  • Jeremy Irons

Bicester Advertiser:

  •  Newton Faulkner

“It was so surreal. I was sat down having dinner with them.

“That is just one thing that I love about it here. It makes all the hard work worth it when you can say things like that.

“It would be amazing if this could be something which meant we could do it as a full-time job.”

The project is clearly something close to all of their hearts, and if the past three years are anything to go by, then its future looks promising.

As Mr Kibbey said: “It sounds cheesy but it is so good to be involved in a community project.

David Cameron went on about the Big Society and while it may not have necessarily taken off everywhere, it definitely took off for me with this.”

OxBox Radio will launch to coincide with the company’s third birthday on March 18.

It plans to broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week and presenters will be able to broadcast from their own homes or the studio in Avenue Three, Witney.

Gavin Hyatt says modern technology will be used to interact with the audience, including listeners being able to call them through the online messaging service Skype.

He said: “Using Skype means people will be able to call us from wherever they are.

“It is great that with the way technology is going that we can have people broadcasting from across the county, and our listeners being able to call us up using the internet.

“We will have to have a 30-second delay though, just in case people say anything too outrageous.”

The radio shows will offer listeners a “mixed bag” of commercial and chart music, local news, current affairs, Oxfordshire music, sport and anything else which falls within the county.

Mr Hyatt, who also runs GreenRoomStudio from the site, will also give bands the opportunity to record a set which can be broadcast in a “live lounge”-style broadcast showcasing just them.

Bicester Advertiser:

  • Adie Gargan

Adie Gargan will host one of the new shows on the radio station.

Mr Gargan, 42, of Madley Park, Witney, is a window cleaner by day and soon-to-be ‘Steve Wright’-style co-presenter on OxBox radio.

The father-of-two said: “I do quite a bit of acting and I have experience in filming and I started doing this about 18 months ago.

“I really like the community side of things and am really looking forward to the radio show. It will be a bit of banter and getting people to phone in and stuff like that.”

Factfile

  • More than 15,000 followers across social media sites. 
  • Launched in March 2011. 
  • Radio station will take to airwaves on its third birthday, March 18, and will broadcast 24/7. 
  • Currently playing a test stream with live broadcasts of Oxford City Stars Ice Hockey matches from the Oxford Ice Rink. 
  • There are 46 volunteers running the site. 
  • Find them at oxbox.tv

Bicester Advertiser:

  • Oxford City Stars ice hockey team

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