words: Lauren Demir
Foundation FM is a radio station that was started 4 months ago by founders Frankie Wells, Ami Bennett and Becky Richardson. Primarily led and run by women, it’s a safe space and creative outlet for a “Diverse group of women, LGTBQI+ person’s and talented creatives who support our values – with women at the forefront.’
The idea to start a radio station came about after one founder, Frankie, was left unemployed after a popular online radio station she worked for was closed down. Becky offered her assistance to help get Frankie a job at another radio station, but when Frankie felt that none suited her, they noticed there was a gap in the market. “Obviously we focus on women, but we really focus on the LGBTQI+ and non-binary. We wanted to create a space for all different creatives and give them a space because everyone is joined by music.” Following the initial idea, they attempted to fill up a schedule for the station. Managing to do this they haven’t looked back since. “I think once we built the schedule it was like okay, this is necessary and it’s not just us that thinks so. We have a whole schedule of amazing female talent who really want to be a part of this so it all sort of happened quite quickly after that.”
Broadcasting 10am-10pm every weekday, they have a wide-range of shows, boasting many special guests, great plays on their mix clouds and an engaging social media presence. Although they’ve made it look easy, there have been many obstacles along the way. Using their knowledge and networks from their other roles within the industry, they’ve been able to manoeuvre around and get things up and running quickly. “When you set stuff up you do have to pull in favours, lean on your resources to make stuff happen quickly. And I think we’ve got really different contacts which has really helped us.”
Having previously worked within the music industry has allowed the women to know what to do and what changes to implement. Most importantly, for it to be a comfortable and safe environment for those working there, enabling people to nurture their talent and give them a platform to grow. “We’re very careful about who comes through, all the guests are vetted. The DJs who are on the station understand what we’re trying to do and are like minded. There isn’t any people who aren’t on board with the message coming through.” They also aim for the platform to be an initial entry point for people to start out their careers. There’s a producer for every show, giving the option of help if anyone ever needs any. This is not just for DJs, but presenters, hosts and anyone with a passion for music who would like to get involved. Above all they want platform to be an inspiration for women, to serve as an example that they can do whatever they want to do. “We wanted the company to be run by woman. I think that was really important because its unusual. When I first started working in the music industry, you’d meet the odd female director or CEO but there’s such a small amount of them in comparison to men. It’s nice to see that you can see you can do anything that you want to do.”
Still a brand-new business, Foundation FM is doing really well. The greatest thing about the station is its genuine feel. The focus on women and LGBTQI+ doesn’t feel tokenistic or forced but embedded into the brands ethos. They don’t put down men either, with the listenership 60/40 to women/men – showing it appeals to everyone. With the many problems recently brought to the light, especially in creative industries, it’s great to see people be proactive and try and make a change. It’s clear that Becky, Ami and Frankie didn’t only start this station for themselves, but also to inspire those who feel cautious in an industry that feeds of power and exploitation. Coming this far in such a small space of time is a testament to the brand itself and we’re excited to see their plans for the rest of the year. Tune into the station here if you haven’t already. There’s bound to be a show tailored to your tastes which you can listen to guilt free.