West Leeds: Sadness as Radio Poplar signs off after 27 years


A well-loved community radio station in West Leeds has gone off air after 27 years of broadcasting.

A lack of funding and listeners led to Bramley-based internet station Radio Poplar broadcasting for the final time earlier this month.

One of the volunteers behind the station, Chris Eagle, 77, said the time was right to come off air. He told The Dispatch:

“It is very sad but we just weren’t getting the listeners any more and we didn’t see the point in carrying on if people weren’t listening. The problem was we were broadcasting every day and people were going elsewhere. It’s very difficult to build up your audience if you’re not broadcasting all the time.

“It was a real labour of love. It was becoming harder for us as volunteers to keep it going – we always felt we were on  a heart monitor – and it was becoming more and more difficult to secure funding to keep it going. It’s easier when you’re a start-up but not when you’ve been going as long as we have.

“And at the age of 77, going out on a dark night was becoming hard work you know!”

Radio Poplar, which was registered as a charity,  boasted a wide range of programming to suit most musical tastes including pop, rock, jazz, country, oldies and Christian music, as well as live music from local bands and a sprinkling of comedy and drama shows.  The station totted up over 20 hours of live broadcasting via volunteers every week.

Mr Eagle said volunteers felt the station had had ‘a good innings’, but the final broadcast on September 7 was still a sad affair. He added:

“All the volunteers and presenters went into the studio and we all said a little bit and shed a tear. It was sad, but we’re proud of what we’ve achieved.”

In 1988 the station – then known as West Leeds Radio – started broadcasting as hospital radio at St Mary’s Hospital in Armley. As the role of the hospital changed, Radio Poplar found itself in later years  housed in The Church of the Venerable Bede and most recently at Bramley Baptist Church.

The station had been broadcasting on the internet since 2005.  At its peak the volunteer-led station attracted around 400 listeners a week, with listeners coming from as far afield as Australia and South Africa.




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