REGATTA RADIO could be forced off the air because of a funding crisis.
The station’s main sponsor Invesco Perpetual has withdrawn its support weeks before the start of the royal regatta.
The Henley investment company says the pop-up station failed to meet its new funding criteria.
Now Regatta Radio has launched an appeal to raise the £25,000 needed put it back on the air during this year’s regatta. The directors have set a deadline of May 12 to raise the money.
Robert Treharne Jones, head of commentators, said: “Regatta Radio has always relied on the support of its sponsors and advertisers but the continued period of austerity has made the enterprise challenging to produce. Each year Regatta Radio requires some £25,000 simply to put on the sort of service which its listeners have come to expect.
“The equipment and licence to broadcast at high quality are not cheap and although the commentators give their services free-of-charge, the technical equipment, licence fees, temporary on-site accommodation and necessary professional know-how all add up.”
Peter McConnell, the station’s chairman, said: “People love Regatta Radio, which is listened to by thousands, and we are working very hard to keep it on the air.
“We are grateful to our previous sponsors for their support over many years but fully understand the world of sponsorship is never permanent and priorities change.”
He said that if the station was unable to bring in the £25,000 needed to go on air this year what was raised would go towards trying to broadcast next summer.
Henley Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak urged people to support the station, saying: “It would be an enormous shame if Regatta Radio didn’t carry on this year as it is a wonderful source of information over the regatta period.
“It has become part of the event and I know people listen to it.”
Annamarie Phelps, chairwoman of British Rowing and a regatta steward, said: “Huge thanks to the Regatta Radio team for the great job they do in enhancing the sport of rowing.
“It is compulsory listening for me during Henley week, adding colour and insight to the sport for those familiar with rowing on a day-to-day basis and for those who dip in and out occasionally. Having a dedicated broadcaster is a great asset for our sport.”
A fundraising dinner attended by more than 100 supporters was held at Leander Club last night (Thursday).
Guests included Leander captain and double Olympic silver medallist Debbie Flood and Team GB rowers Will Satch, Pete Reed and Louisa Reeve.
Regatta Radio has been broadcasting since 2006 and has covered every race since 2009. It is on air for 10 days, starting with the qualifying races and finishing after the prize-giving ceremony.
It broadcasts on 87.7FM and listeners can pick it up on their radios within a six-mile radius of the course as well on the internet around the world.
An Invesco Perpetual spokeswoman said the Regatta Radio sponsorship money had been redistributed to other worthwhile causes in the community.
She said: “Invesco Perpetual is absolutely committed to our continued support of the local community wherever possible.
“We receive quite a few enquiries and applications for grants which increase year on year. We have looked across the board to make sure that money we allocate is done in a fair and transparent way.
“We have two criteria for grants and they are whether it would support the community and also provide an opportunity for staff engagement. It was against the criteria that we decided not to provide the grant to Regatta Radio and redistribute the money.”
She said the company would be supporting this year’s Henley Literary Festival, which it felt better fitted the criteria.
Regatta Radio has set up a fund-raising website and has offered “perks” for different sums that are donated. Anyone giving £10 will be listed on a wall of fame on the station’s website and those offering £50 will receive an earpiece pre-tuned to the station.
The first 25 people who donate £100 will receive a Regatta Radio T-shirt and those who donate £250 will be invited to attend fundraising dinners in London or Henley with a chance to meet Olympic medallists and members of the GB rowing team.
For more information and to make a donation, visit http://igg.me/at/RR2014