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Community radio founder

395. Ali Beg

The founder and driving force behind a local radio station in Southampton that gives a voice to diverse communities.

Ali Beg founded Awaaz Community Radio in 2009 after identifying a need for a radio station to cater for the needs of the local Asian community. Ali, who is from Southampton and of Pakistani heritage wanted to unite communities across Southampton and create programmes to cater to the needs of Indian and Pakistani communities and started the radio station with this audience in mind. Six years later, over twenty presenters from ten countries provide local content in languages as varied as Romanian, Hungarian and Persian as well as Hindi, Pashtun, Punjabi and Urdu.

Awaaz FM, founded by Ali, is run by and for the community by a dedicated team of 42 of volunteers, all who give up their time and provide their talents to generate a range of professional programmes that are relevant and suited to Southampton’s diverse minority communities. Ali is always one of the first to arrive and the last to leave, making sure all the presenters have everything they need and that the output is professional and targeted to its audience.

One of the station’s star talents that Ali has helped to develop is Danny Sunder, presenter of weekly Danny Sunder show. Danny Nalini joined the station despite having several disabilities including cerebral palsy and dyslexia, and his show has been a huge hit with listeners and has helped his confidence. Last year, Awaaz FM and its volunteers were nominated for a national diversity award and the station now has up to 900 local listeners a week and a worldwide audience of over 10,000.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Ali recognised the need for a radio station that reflected the diversity he saw in Southampton and used his own initiative to start a community radio station. Five years on, nine languages can be heard on the airwaves and the station is growing from strength to strength, helping those in the community to find jobs and build their own businesses. I’m delighted to recognise Ali as a Point of Light today.”

Ali said:

“This has been a big surprise for me and I am excited to learn that Awaaz has been recognised not only by those whose lives we have changed but also by the PM. This certainly gives me the courage to carry on! To have recognition all the way from the top means a great deal to me and was quite unimaginable and it’s an honour to know that the PM takes an interest in our work!”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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