Flintshire couple in tune with the demands of bringing up baby

Reporter:

Rob Bellis

WHEN Peter and Joanne Gallacher became parents for the first time they were desperate for advice on bringing up baby.

They didn’t have the time to read baby-related magazines or to watch TV shows and, in the middle of the night when baby Isabel woke up crying, they began to feel very isolated.

“When you are first-time parents it can feel like all hell has been let loose and there were times when we couldn’t put our hands on the information we needed,” says Peter.

“We were pacing around in the early hours of the morning,” adds Joanne. “Peter said, ‘wouldn’t it be nice to be able to turn the radio on and get a bit of advice’?”

It just so happened that the Coedpoeth-based couple had a background in radio, and from that one remark My Baby Radio was born.

Joanne, who is originally from Coedpoeth, began her career as a journalist and newsreader at Marcher Sound before moving to Radio City in Liverpool, returning to the area for an online job with the BBC.

She met Peter, who hails from Manchester, while at Marcher Sound, where he was working as a producer.

The Gallachers began running the station online shortly after Isabel was born four years ago, and it quickly went from strength to strength – even attracting an international audience.

“We were broadcasting from a terraced house in Coedpoeth,” explains Joanne, “and we were getting emails from a woman Chile, people in Australia and we found out there’s a hospital in the US that plays it throughout the day.”

“We’ve been speaking to a woman who listens from Sweden who has suggested that we do a feature on ex-pat mums,” adds Peter.

Due to the positive response, the couple recently decided to take the project to a new level and broadcast My Baby Radio on the airwaves on digital radio across North East Wales, Cheshire, North Shropshire and Staffordshire.

They are taking the successful format of the online station and expanding it, including the addition of some well-known presenters.

“The station has been very successful online,” says Peter. “We have had various experts on and we’ve also had some celebrity mums talking about their experiences. On the new DAB station, Pat Sharp (former Fun House and Top of the Pops presenter) and Emma B (ex-Radio 1 DJ) will be presenting shows at the weekend.”

Despite its international following and celebrity element, Peter and Joanne maintain that My Baby Radio will stay true to its roots as a community station. It will provide a platform for charities and non-profit making organisations to let people know what they’re up to.

The daily programming will include a breakfast show (“much like any other radio show, only aimed at families”); a morning playgroup show with nursery rhymes and the chance for local groups to get their voices heard; and a question-and-answer session with experts such as GPs, midwives and authors discussing subjects ranging from home births to breast feeding and potty training.

There will also be a “chill out hour” from midday to help both kids and parents relax; Round at Mums, a talk show with mums from the region chatting lightheartedly about current affairs, issues affecting them and general gripes; and a kids’ party show to coincide with the end of school, playing “party songs from Hannah Montana to YMCA”.

After that comes a parents’ show with more music and debate, and from 6pm the “bedtime wind-down” with classical music and stories to help the little ones nod off.

Peter has built a state-of-the-art studio at their Coedpoeth base and the future is looking rosy. But there has been a lot of hard work involved in getting to this stage.

“It’s a massive undertaking,” Peter admits. “We’ve got no big group behind us and until now it’s just been an online station. But many radio stations started as small family operations and grew from there.

“Radio is a real passion of ours and obviously, being parents now, My Baby Radio is a marriage of the two.”

In fact, the couple have just had their second child, Elsie, who is just five weeks old.
But they are becoming very good at juggling My Baby Radio around their own family.

“It’s quite flexible,’ says Joanne. “Because we’re our own bosses we can fit everything around Isabel and Elsie. A lot of the interviews I do are with mums who run their own businesses and manage to juggle everything.”

My Baby Radio is now live on DAB digital radio. For more information visit www.mybabyradio.com.

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