LISTEN: Graham Huggins explains why now is the time Heartland is reaching out to the community for support.
Starting on December 16, Heartland is launching its first-ever appeal to the public for funding since it started in 1992.
After 28 years of grassroots broadcasting, building up to a full weekly schedule and branching out into a multimedia platform, the community has been at the heart of everything.
Chairman Graham Huggins said: “We have built a highly effective community radio station that actually delivers real value to our community.”
For Mr Huggins, this Crowdfunder is about helping to “see us through this patch” after months of broadcasting throughout the pandemic.
He said: “The money is going to be spent mainly on retaining the great team that we’ve put together.”
“I claim that we are the best run community radio station in the country.”
“I would challenge anybody to match us in the breadth that we’ve got, not just radio, not just the magazine, but also Facebook and all the social outlets that we have.”
“We run across the whole thing, and we maintain a local news service, so we’re a pretty comprehensive operation.”
But it’s not a question of overstretching, as Mr Huggins explained: “All members of the team have agreed to take a cut in salary, a significant one, in some cases fifty per cent and some case twenty-five per cent.”
Mr Huggins also stresses that this is to “see us through this patch” working “on the basis that we will come out of this at some stage and we will get back to normal.”
Every day this seems to be drawing closer to what First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said is, ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’, however, as Mr Huggins pointed out, we don’t know when this day will be.
“We just don’t know when everyday life will come back”, says Mr Huggins, “it looks like, if the vaccine works, we might be back in business by summer.”
He added: “We’ve been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic which has basically destroyed our income, and our income relies on businesses in the Highland Perthshire area.”
“The businesses in Highland Perthshire are fundamentally down to tourism and the hospitality sector, and they’re the very businesses where people do mix and they’re the very businesses where people do mix and consequently been the hardest hit.”
This domino effect, starting with the tourism industry, means that “our core revenue stream has been badly hit” he explains, which has meant a drop in income coming from local traders.
But Mr Huggins is optimistic that a quick bounce back in revenue, starting December 16, will patch together the income shortfall between now and once everyday life comes back into our lives.
More information will become available from that day on our website.