An emotional goodbye to Spirit FM for Crouchie

Vicky meets... Ian Crouch, broadcasting legend and founding father of Spirit FM.

Until Spirit FM was taken over earlier this month, ‘Crouchie’ was the station’s longest-serving presenter.

• How long were you at Spirit FM?

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I started on April 1, 1996, three weeks before Spirit’s launch on April 21, having campaigned for a local station since 1992. That’s a staggering 24 and a half years!

Ian Crouch

• Like the Observer, Spirit has always been at the heart of the community. What campaigns are personal highlights?

There have been so many local campaigns that we got behind over the years. One which I have particularly enjoyed year-on-year has been our toy appeal. Listeners donated thousands of toys each Christmas to under privileged children in the county. I was tasked with delivering the boxed toys to organisations helping those in need – each year the amount of toys just got bigger and bigger. We also supported local food banks last year with our ‘Tonne of Tins’ appeal. Expecting to get a tonne, we actually got nearly five tonnes. Listener response to these appeals has always been amazing.

• Why is local media so important?

Local media really is very important. It can keep you updated on what’s happening in the area with regards to news, weather, school closures, travel and events, but its is also able to hold people to account. Radio has the power to bring communities together to challenge things they don’t believe are right. The campaign to ‘Save St Richards’ is a classic example as to how local opposition backed by local media, residents and a smattering of celebrities who live locally can reverse a decision that was clearly wrong.

• You hosted the very last show. How did you feel during the broadcast?

Hosting the last show on Spirit FM was both and honour and one of the saddest things I have very had to do. After almost 25 years on air it still didn’t feel real that this would be my last show on the station I had put my heart and soul into. It was great to have the support of some of my family with me in the studio along with some friends and colleagues. I was also joined by the former managing director Sally Austin who has been the driving force behind the station for the last 20 years. She and I have become great friends and it seemed fitting she was there. I had rehearsed my final link several times but it felt so different and emotional actually delivering the lines. There was a moment in the middle when I really thought I wouldn’t be able to finish what I wanted to say, but I did just about manage.

• What’s next for the county’s best-loved DJ?

At the moment, I’m not sure what I’m going to do next. Radio doesn’t hold the opportunities it once did. We moved house last year and there are plenty of projects to be done there so I’ll take a few weeks off to tackle some of those and then see what happens.

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