Radio station boss ‘devastated’ after equipment theft
The founder of a community radio station says he is “devastated” after
thieves broke in and stole nearly £8,000 worth of equipment last night.
Marlow FM [97.5] was temporarily forced off air by the raid at around 8pm, when
burglars forced their way into a remote transmitter station in a field away
from its studios at Longridge Activity Centre.
Broadcaster Tim Ashburner – who set up Marlow FM in 2011 – says the raid has
cost £7,800, which is equivalent to a year’s running costs for the not-for-profit station.
He said: “We’re devastated that certain people will rip off valuable
community projects like MFM.
“We try hard to serve our community and it pains us when we get targeted in
“The cost of replacement is nearly equivalent to our entire years operating
After being forced off air following the theft, the team worked hard to
restore the broadcast for this morning’s shows.
Mr Ashburner said the station was “limping on” with temporary transmitting
And breakfast show presenters took suggestions from listeners for defiant
songs to play in the face of adversity, including ‘My heart will go on’ and
‘Clinging on to life’.
The station boss said he suspected the burglary may be the
work of ‘FM pirates’, who target equipment belonging to other stations after
having theirs seized by regulator Ofcom.
He said volunteers were working with Ofcom to create a list of possible
During the burglary, the culprits ripped a door off equipment housing and
removed the expensive transmitting kit.
And Mr Ashburner said he and his team will look to replace the housing with
a toughened steel cabinet.
A community radio station leapt to the aid of its fellow broadcasters after nearly £8,000 worth of transmitting equipment was stolen last night.
Wycombe Sound offered to help track down the stolen kit, which was taken from Marlow FM’s transmitting station in a field away from its riverside Marlow base.
It is suspected that the specialist kit may have been swiped by FM ‘pirates’ looking to illegally broadcast in the area.
It is the latest setback for the not-for-profit station, which has battled against severe flooding for the last two years running.
Wycombe Sound, which ended its 28-day FM trial last month, sent out messages of support to its fellow broadcasters.
Philippa Sawyer, station manager, said: “We want to spread the word and see if we can help. If we had our own gear we would have taken it down to them.
“When we had problems starting out with our FM signal, Tim was the first person on the phone offering to help.
“He’s a really good guy and they’ve survived the terrible flooding and now this, it’s a tragedy.”
Marlow FM founder, Tim Ashburner, said he was “devastated” by the burglary, which took the station off air at about 8pm last night.
But vowing that the show must go on, the Marlow team defied the criminals by erecting a hastily assembled fix to get back on air for the following morning.
Ms Sawyer added that the equipment is of no use to anyone but a broadcaster.
She added that pirate stations can be regularly heard in the Wycombe area, operating without licences from regulator Ofcom.
Mr Ashburner said he is working with Ofcom to establish a possible list of pirates to investigate.
After its FM trial, Wycombe Sound is awaiting invitations from the regulator to apply for permanent licences.