First grants announced, in special Coronavirus Support round

  • 7 projects totalling £92,000 have been announced
  • Comedy on Fix Radio, and live music across the Bauer Media network
  • More projects to be announced, and the round remains open for bids

The Audio Content Fund has today announced the first grants to be awarded in its special funding round to support audiences during Coronavirus restrictions.

The fund, which is financed by the UK Government, launched a special rolling round two weeks ago with a minimum grant budget of £200,000, following discussions with Radiocentre, AudioUK, and DCMS.  The first seven successful projects have been announced, totalling £92,000, and involving five production companies delivering content to nine different radio stations, with an estimated audience reach of more than 3.5 million listeners.

The first successful project, announced earlier this week on social media, is for Fix Radio, a national digital station targeting UK Tradespeople.  ‘Self-isolating with Lee and Dean’ is a comedy sketch series about two builders keeping in touch while keeping their distance, which started broadcasting daily on 1st April. 

Meanwhile, six national radio stations from Bauer Media will broadcast 52 hours of live music over the Easter weekend, in a series of ‘virtual festivals’ designed to fill the gap left by the cancellation of gigs and festivals around the country. The stations – Absolute Radio, Jazz FM, Scala Radio, Planet Rock, Kerrang!, and The KISS Network – have partnered with four different London-based indies – TBI Media, Somethin’ Else, Listen, and We Are Grape – who will remote-record artists performing in their own homes.

The KISS Network – comprised of KISS, KISSTORY, and KISS Fresh – will broadcast continuous DJ mixes for 33 hours, starting at 4pm on Good Friday, with big name DJs on KISS, nostalgic names on KISSTORY, and up-and-coming talent on KISS Fresh including an opportunity for listeners to send in their own bedroom mixes.  The five other stations will play curated three-hour selections of live music from 7pm on Easter Saturday or Easter Monday.

The funding round remains open, operating on a rolling basis until the ACF determine it is no longer necessary.  Ideas will be reviewed by the funding panel within two weeks, with funding for selected ideas made available promptly and upfront.

Sam Bailey, Managing Director of the Audio Content Fund, said:

“The purpose of this round was to ask suppliers and stations to think about the gaps these restrictions had left in their audience’s lives – filling the airwaves with comedy and live music is the perfect response to this.  This urgent funding round continues to prove very popular, and I can’t wait to announce further projects in the coming weeks.”

John Whittingdale OBE MP, Minister of State for Media and Data, said:

“The radio industry, at a time when it’s facing many challenges itself, continues to keep people informed and entertained through these difficult times. Thanks to the quick actions of the Audio Content Fund, I am pleased that £200,000 of government funding will help create new home-grown programmes, from virtual music festivals to comedy sketches, that will lift our spirits as the country pulls through this crisis.”

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

In these exceptional times, the Audio Content Fund is very proud to enable these projects that will offer people solace, solidarity and hope as well as outstanding entertainment.  From Bauer’s extraordinarily ambitious live music project over Easter, to Fix Radio’s perfectly-targeted Lee and Dean sketches, we are delighted to fund brilliant, timely ideas of all sizes that respond to the times we find ourselves in.  Keep them coming – over the coming months, we want to ensure the most creative ideas reach a wide range of radio audiences.”

Self-Isolating with Lee and Dean on Fix Radio
– Bingo Films, for Fix Radio 

12x 3min sketches, broadcast three times a day on weekdays.DAB in Manchester and London. TX from 1 April 2020

Comedy sketch series featuring builders Lee and Dean, broadcast on the only national radio station targeting the UK’s building trade.  When Dean coughed in a client’s house (after laying loft lagging) he decided to stay in there to self-isolate. Lee Skype’s with him every day, and each short chat finds Lee and Dean offering their own unique take on various ways to make the most of being cooped up indoors and how to run a building business despite all the obvious obstacles – such as not being able to build.

KISSfest – ‘The World’s Biggest Radio Rave’ –
We Are Grape, for The KISS Network

3x 33hr broadcasts on KISS (National DAB and FM in London), KISSTORY (National DAB), and KISS Fresh (National DAB).
TX on Good Friday 10 April and Easter Saturday 11 April

Over Easter Weekend KISS FM, KISS Fresh and KISSTORY will host a huge radio rave, filling a hole that has been left in the listeners’ lives, on what is traditionally one of the biggest raving weekends of the year. KISS FM and KISSTORY will feature big names from their different dance music worlds, with KISS Fresh giving an opportunity for the listeners to submit their own mixes and take part alongside their favourite DJs, bringing listeners and DJs together in a moment of celebration and escapism.

Scala Radio Sessons Live – Listen, for Scala Radio
1x 3hr broadcast, with tracks played the week after
National DAB Station. TX Easter Saturday 11 April

Making up for the birthday celebration that never happened, and the concerts Scala listeners can’t attend, a series of live performances recorded remotely from the homes of some of Scala’s favourite artists, turned into a series of programmes to be broadcast on Easter Weekend.

Planet Rock Sessions Live – Listen, for Planet Rock
1x 3hr broadcast, TX Easter Saturday 11 April, National DAB Station

So many rock acts have had to cancel tours, and all festivals are postponed or cancelled – so, we’ll help Planet Rock listeners get their fix of live music while they’re stuck at home through a series of live performances recorded remotely and broadcast on Easter Weekend.

Kerrang! Radio Sessions Live – Listen, for Kerrang! Radio
1x 3hr broadcast, TX Easter Saturday 11 April, National DAB Station

With the live scene having ground to a halt as a result of the Coronavirus crisis, we’ll help Kerrang! Radio listeners get their fix of live music while they’re stuck at home through a series of live performances recorded remotely and broadcast on Easter Weekend.

The Front Room Festival – TBI Media, for Absolute Radio
1x 3hr show, with tracks also played throughout the day before.
National DAB Station, FM in London. TX on Easter Monday 13 April

Absolute Radio presents a multi-generational live music festival, with tracks throughout Easter Monday culminating in 3-hours of live music in one show. Over a dozen artists will perform sets recorded in their own homes, from acoustic sets in the kitchen, to full performances in home studios. Programming will feature ‘backstage’ interviews, with a focus on mental health and local heroes, to produce an event that will draw us all together despite being apart.

Jazz FM Virtual Jazz Festival – Somethin’ Else for Jazz FM
1x 3hr broadcast, with tracks also played throughout the week after. National DAB Station, with FM in London. TX Easter Monday 13 April

A virtual festival of exclusive live / as-live performances from some of the UK and world’s biggest jazz stars – recorded in their homes and personal studios. At the end of a day in support of UK jazz musicians this will be an extraordinary three-hour virtual jazz festival to delight and cheer up jazz fans everywhere.