Round 1 Winning Bids Announced

Posted 11th June 2019

  • Nine projects selected to receive funding totalling £234,000
  • New programming on commercial radio to include a kids’ soap opera, discussions on men’s mental health, and a week-long focus on infertility
  • Content will be made by independent producers and will air within the next 12 months

We are delighted to announce the results of our first funding round, with successful bids showcasing a range and diversity of ideas and talent across a large number of radio stations.

We received 50 applications in our first round of bidding, and nine were selected for funding. The selected projects involve eight different production companies making content to be broadcast on 17 different radio stations, including talkSPORT, the Magic Radio network, Fun Kids, and a partnership of community radio stations.

Winning bids, from production companies including Made in Manchester, TBI Media, and Whistledown, cover genres such as drama, documentary, sport, discussion, live music and comedy. Five of the winning bids involve Out-of-London production companies or stations.

The winning bids include two formats focussing on mental health, one focusing on life-changing songs and the other a week of live music and comedy. The other funded shows are: a space-race soap opera for children; a football show hosted by an all-BAME presenting trio; a country music documentary hosted by first-time presenters in Northern Ireland; monthly ‘radio ballads’ on topical social issues based on workshop recordings of 16-25 year olds; a live musical tour of Greater Manchester; and a 100-strong series of 2-minute packages featuring the people of Devon and Cornwall talking about their relationship with the land.

The Audio Content Fund is a pilot scheme supporting public service content on commercial and community radio networks, funded by a grant of up to £3m from the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Sam Bailey, ACF Managing Director, said:

“These winning bids, chosen by our experienced panel, are a great way to start off the fund, with a fantastic range of formats and subjects and covering a wide range of genres. We’re also really pleased that seven of the production companies involved are working with their partner radio stations for the first time, and this is a great example of how we hope this will grow the collaboration between production companies, commercial and community radio.”

Helen Boaden, Chair of the ACF Funding Panel, said:

“The Panel was delighted by the richness and range of the winning bids and can’t wait to hear the final results on air. We’re looking forward to stations across the UK working closely with Indies on great new ideas which grab their audiences with unexpected and entertaining content.

“John Myers, in his inimitable way, made a huge contribution to the process of choosing the best bids. He cared passionately about great radio and we think this inaugural set of programmes supported by the Audio Content Fund will do him proud.”

Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries said:

“I am thrilled with the industry’s positive engagement with the Audio Content Fund’s first funding round, and many congratulations to the nine successful bids.

“The fund is part of a £60m commitment from the Government to stimulate new programming from a range of new voices and on a variety of topics. This is a great achievement for the radio industry and I look forward to this content coming to our ears within the year.”

The full list of successful bids is as follows:

Bafflegab Productions, for Fun Kids

20x 10min episodes, weekly on Friday afternoons, with three weekly repeats National DAB station

A gripping new soap opera for children, in which a tiny island in the Irish Sea is surprised to find itself the base for a new space programme. When two tech entrepreneurs announce their plan to make one of the local kids the world’s first child astronaut, nothing is ever the same again.

Whistledown Productions, for Union Jack

2x 2hr programmes on adjacent Saturdays, and 20x 3min packages throughout the week
National DAB Station

A week-long focus on male mental health, explored through live music and comedy. Starting with a live music concert and ending with a live comedy gig, with high profile interview packages throughout the week, the campaign will be in partnership with the Men In Sheds Network.

Stellaria Media, for a network of 5 community radio stations – Phonic FM, St Austell Bay Radio, Radio Scilly, Soundart Radio, The Source FM

100x 2min packages, broadcast at various times
Partnership of 5x Community Radio Stations on FM in Devon and Cornwall

Exquisitely small radio features, each one a different perspective on our relationship with the land throughout Devon and Cornwall. Audio ‘patches’ that can be broadcast in isolation, or compiled together into longer formats. Featuring the voices of the people of Devon and Cornwall, captured through informal conversations, personal testimonies and field recordings.

2ZY Ltd, for XS Manchester

10x 3hr live radio shows, weekly on Friday afternoons Local FM and DAB+ station in Greater Manchester

A series of ten outside broadcasts, one from each Greater Manchester borough, celebrating the past, present and future of Manchester Music and the social history of the area. Fronted by Inspiral Carpets keyboard player Clint Boon, with a diverse range of guests and listener contributions.

Reform Radio, for Gaydio

5x 60min programmes, monthly on Sunday mornings
Community station on FM in Manchester and Brighton, and on DAB in six major cities

‘Radio Ballads’ covering a range of social issues, crafted from workshop recordings of young people aged 16-25, including live performances of spoken word, rap, storytelling, music and other artistic material. An innovative and unique series of crafted explorations of issues impacting young adults.

We Are Unedited, for talkSPORT

40x 60min programmes, weekly on Thursday evenings for the 2019-2020 football season
National AM and DAB Station

A roundtable football discussion show, presented by a trio of new presenters from a BAME background, with a guest host each week. Issues will include ticket prices, transfer gossip, racism, tactics, homophobia, football shirts or gender equality. Guests on the show will come from underserved and underrepresented audiences.

YOUNG AND COOL: A Brief History of Country
Made In Manchester, for Downtown Radio

1x 60min programme, on a Sunday evening
Local station on FM (and DAB sister-station), covering all of Northern Ireland

Documentary examining the current great renaissance in country music, told through the passion of a new, young, first-time radio presenter. The host (selected with help from the Bauer Academy), will explore what it takes to make a country hit, by interviewing writers, performers and label bosses.

TBI Media, for Absolute Radio

48x 5min episodes, weekday evenings for 12wks, overnight repeats and weekly compilations
National AM and DAB station, with FM in London

A short-form series, where musicians and personalities open up in frank conversations about mental health and wellbeing. Guests introduce four tracks that helped them through tough times, prompting further discussion with listeners sharing their experiences.

TBI Media, for The Magic Radio Network

25x 2min packages, all broadcast in one week, plus 1x 2hr special on Saturday Network of 4x national DAB Stations, with FM in London

A 6-day campaign, challenging the taboos and debunking the myths around fertility problems – an issue affecting 1 in 7 couples in the UK. Across each day, short-form packages will tell the real-life stories of couples with experiences from IVF to surrogacy, whilst providing insight and advice from experts including medical professionals, advisors and charities. A 2hr music show with high-profile guests will round off the week.


The first round opened on 1 April 2019 and concluded on 29 April. All projects in this round are 100% funded by the Audio Content Fund and their total value amounts to £234,000. Individual grant values range from £10k to £62k, and at time of publication are still subject to contract.