A WIRRAL Christian and community radio station aims to reach a new audience after launching on a new digital service.

Flame CCR, which was established in 2000, already entertains listeners from around the world through its online service and its recently launched app.

However, as far as transmitting its wide range of news, music and feature programs over the airwaves, it was restricted to medium-wave radio, which is now old-fashioned and of low sound quality.

After acquiring a digital licence to broadcast on the new Liverpool DAB+ in December, programme makers are excited that they can now reach many more people in the region.

The Rock Ferry-based station - which grew from just three people, a cardboard box of CDs, a microphone and an antenna on a local church tower - now broadcasts around the clock.

Station manager, Norman Polden, is very excited about its future. He said: “Now Flame CCR is a lot busier, broadcasting 24/7 from our own studios in via internet www.flameradio.org and the Flame Radio App to the world, and now also on DAB+ to Merseyside, via a transmitter on the St John’s Beacon in Liverpool city centre.

"The Liverpool DAB coverage map predicted Liverpool and the top corner of the Wirral, but we are finding the signal goes further, so we say ‘Liverpool and most of Wirral’ and there are rumours it has even been heard as far north as Southport, south to Frodsham and east almost to St Helens.

"Unlike those early days, there are now computers all over the place.

"There also many more helpers (volunteers), though we welcome more. Although we have listeners across the globe, the programming aims to carry a Merseyside flavour."

Wirral Globe: Norman Polden (station manager) and David Higham (programme controller)Norman Polden (station manager) and David Higham (programme controller) (Image: Flame FM)Explaining what he means by 'Merseyside flavour' Norman continued: “We realise that Merseyside has a musical tradition plus many poets and authors, all in the secular scene, so we keep that flavour and add Christian music, message and chat from local people (local is important, Northwest is the area).

"The Merseyside flavour is also relevant because there are many Scousers across the world and in other parts of the UK. And Parchment in 1974 recorded in Liverpool their song ‘Light up the fire and let the flame burn’. To us, Flame CCR is that fire!"

David Higham, the station’s programme controller, added: "Flame CCR also brings a much-needed Christian flavour to the airwaves with a scheduled round-the-clock programme of music, message and chat.

"It brings a Christian voice into a media which tends to sideline Christianity, and a Christian light into an increasingly dark world. Radio is a background in people's lives and Flame is there 24/7 at the touch of a button.

Wirral Globe: Two members of the Flame FM teamTwo members of the Flame FM team (Image: Flame FM)"Tune in to hear what Flame CCR (Christian and Community Radio) has to offer. It is one of only a handful of Christian stations broadcasting in the UK. Liverpool DAB operates on a DAB+ transmitter. Most recently-bought DAB radios are able to receive DAB+.

"Look for the Digital Radio Tick Mark on the radio or on its packaging."

Flame CCR already has an established track record on the internet and medium wave, as well as previous short-term operations on FM in Wirral and a DAB trial in Manchester. Its history stretches back to the start of the millennium with a one-month broadcasting opportunity on FM from Birkenhead.

On December 5, Flame CCR was added to the line-up on the recently-launched Liverpool DAB+ service. Liverpool DAB is one of the new small-scale DAB+ services being launched across the country and provides Liverpool as well as many parts of Wirral with a range of new and interesting radio stations and increased listener choice. DAB+ delivers crystal clear audio for music and speech.

Daytime programmes on Flame CCR are mainly introduced music of all genres though with a leaning towards Christian music (including local music).

Wirral Globe: Members of the Flame FM teamMembers of the Flame FM team (Image: Flame FM)

Evening programmes include 'cutting-edge' debate and people’s Christian stories as well as the Christian message. Sunday programmes major on Christian praise and worship, with some Bible teaching.

Flame CCR operates as a non-denominational Christian charity, staffed by volunteers, and is listener-funded, together with some grants and other gifts. Overall running costs equate to less than £5 an hour, but on the bigger scale of 24/7 broadcasting 365 days a year, that means annual costs in the region of £40,000.

Some team members have moved on over the years to other roles. For example, one joined Heart Radio, another went to BBC Radio Manchester, and a third to a Baptist ministerial training college and is now a Baptist pastor.

To find out more about the Flame team, and how you can get involved, contact station manager Norman Polden at flameccr@gmail.com. You can also visit their website www.flameradio.org