The team reviving Saint FM is optimistic of being granted a licence within days. An online poll has been set up to gauge the level of support for streaming broadcasts on the internet – with a small annual fee to listen.
by Johnny Clingham
St Helena & Ascension Island Community website
The Saint FM team, led by Mrs Julie Thomas, reports being very pleased with support for efforts to revive St Helena’s first independent radio station.
A promotion day was held outside New Horizons centre in Jamestown on Saturday, 16 February 2013, with many people signing up for yearly membership of the organisation.
The aim was partly to educate members of the public face-to-face on how Saint FM community radio would benefit the island.
Membership cost £5 per year for citizens employed on St Helena and £1 for unwaged members.
Despite the frustration of failing to become a registered community charity,there has been lots of progress the decision was taken to become a company limited by guarantee – meaning directors would not be risk heavy personal losses.
A local advert has been published for an assistant station manager to assist with the day-to-day running of the station, which closed abruptly on 21 December 2012.
Negotiations are taking place to reinstate the streaming of the station via the internet.
An online poll has now been set up on the St Helena & Ascension Island Community website to get a better understanding on how overseas listeners feel about paying a yearly membership to help support the organisation.
If the statistics from this vote look favourable, we will publish more information on how people can sign up.
The poll is open for seven days, until Sunday, 24 February 2013. Find it here.
The last half-hour of Saint FM’s eight years of broadcasting has been posted on Johnny Clingham’s St Helena and Ascension Island Community website. Listen here
They have to fix and KEEP the RMS St Helena! You can’t rely on costly air travel alone. Export/import via sea is the only way. St Helena Government must not make same stupid mistake like South Africa – SA got no ships! – Merle Martin
Even though she breaks down from time to time, she has kept us (St.Helena) going for years and years. I say too, KEEP our loyal RMS St Helena – Lucinda Corney
In historical times, it was a rough home-made punch called arrack that kept the people of St Helena happy: now, it could be Jamestown Gin.
The island’s distillery is launching it as a new product, reports Johnny Clingham on the St Helena Community website. Read his story here.
Enterprise St Helena is inviting people on the island to book two-minute slots to send greetings to family and friends overseas via the video link on Sunday 26 August 2012.
For a second year, Saint FM will also be relayed to the sports and broadcasting interviews transmitted from the event – this time, it is hoped, with help from St Helena Online.
The link is being organised by IT expert Johnny Clingham, who will also be covering the event for the St Helena Community website.
Matt Joshua of Saint Connect has travelled from St Helena to attend the sports and meet people who are interested in returning home to the island. He will have information about investment, business and job opportunities.
He will also be showing films of the arrival on the island of the Basil Read ship, and construction of the workers’ camp at Bradleys, made by the St Helena Broadcasting Corporation.
Nigel Kirby of the Department for International Development will also be at the sports to talk about the airport.
The sports are organised by the St Helena Association and take place at Reading Rugby Club in Sonning.
Association president Owen George MBE says in his annual report: “As the older members will know we first started with the title Saints Mini Sport, and with a change of committee it became St Helena Sports Day.
“But in truth, beyond any doubt it has become The Saints Relatives and Friends Reunion Day, which to my mind is a very, very important event for people to renew old and make new acquaintancesat the same place, same day, same time each year.
“Saints in Ascension, the Falklands and wherever they may be, arrange their UK holidays to meet on this nostalgic occasion, and you cannot get any better than that.”
The event has been raising money for good causes on the island for more than 30 years.
Visit the association website for full details, including comments praising last year’s event.
See pictures of the 2011 sports, by Richard Bennett, here.
A reader of The Guardian has warned that global warming and rising sea levels could mean “islands like St Helena will disappear.” Click the pics to see it happen (with thanks to photographer Johnny Clingham of the St Helena Community website).
Messages of disappointment continue to reach St Helena Online regarding the failure of P&O Cruises to allow passengers ashore in “millpond” conditions when the Arcadia called at the island in April 2012.
The latest is from Diana Rainham, of Essex, UK, in response to coverage of the debacle. She writes:
“I was on the Arcadia and we were told previously that the communications were poor. The rumours were going round the ship were that St Helena was a ‘touch and go’ situation. The passengers were warned that any high waves would mean that we wouldn’t go ashore.
“Our view from the ship was not of high waves. There were a lot of elderly passengers but also a lot of middle-aged 35- to 50-year-olds, and the crew and entertainment staff were mainly in their 20s.
“The Arcadia used tenders to dock at Bali when the sea was the same if not more wavey.
“A lot of the passengers were very unappy with the situation. P&O should not have advertised St Helena as a port of call if they had no intention to dock there.
“I am so gutted I missed the chance to visit the beautiful island, have a drink in the Consulate, the Standard and the White Horse, buy some stamps and maybe even attempt Jacob’s Ladder.”
P&O Cruises have ignored previous requests to acknowledge the losses and inconvenience suffered by islanders. Another request will be made.
Mobile phone masts could soon be springing up across St Helena (except on the bits that are to have wind turbines).
On Tuesday, 26 June 2012, executive councillors agreed the terms of a new telecommunications licence that should bring mobile phone technology to Jamestown, Half Tree Hollow and – who knows? – maybe even Sandy Bay.
“Full details of the agreement will be announced shortly,” reported governor Mark Capes, “but it combines price reductions with a significant improvement in services and new investment to allow for the introduction of mobile phones.”
If the Oberoi luxury hotel group agrees to run Shelco’s hotel at Broad Bottom, it will certainly want the kind of phone technology it already uses in some of the poorest parts of the world.
For Basil Read, it will be too late: there are no telephones out on Prosperous Bay Plain, where it will be building the island’s airport for the next three years, so it has brought in its own mobile phone equipment, linked to a service provider in South Africa.
And for Johnny Clingham, a St Helenian telecoms expert based in the UK, mobile phone coverage may not be enough to bring him home.
“I think it’s something that we need to have that would be beneficial,” said Johnny, speaking from Amsterdam, where he was on a trip to research high-speed communication. “But it’s the internet we want improvement on.
“We need to see what the improvements are. Until we see the full report on what they are going to get and whether other providers will come in, we don’t know whether it’s going to meet our needs.
“Mobile phones are great, but the quality of internet service is what we need.”
Cable & Wireless has exclusive contracts to provide communications and a TV service on St Helena. At a recent executive council (ExCo) meeting, councillors voiced disquiet about the service, and the high price of phone calls and a very slow internet connection.
The company’s licences expire on 31 December 2012.
Governor Capes said lengthy negotiations gained momentum when the UK government agreed to fund the island’s airport.
“That decision means that the future market for telecoms on St Helena looks much more attractive for Cable & Wireless,” he said. “Subject to a few minor amendments, ExCo approved the licences.”
Living here for the last couple of months it’s been quite a treat NOT to have the mobile going and feel the ‘need’ to check the phone every 5 minutes. Over dinner the other night we all agreed that the lack of smart phones in particular was a good thing – there was no anti-social updating of Facebook or Twitter. Shock, horror…you actually spoke to the people you were out with. I guess progress comes with a price though?
– Suzie Pearson, St Helena
Three months on St Helena – blog