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Grad centre puts future of Quest Radio in doubt

Broadcasting test week shows cancelled and future in doubt as grad centre building work leaves radio members with limited peak-time studio access

The future of Queen Mary’s on campus radio station, Quest – has been cast into doubt as the construction of a new £25m graduate centre is set to limit full access to their studio, situated at the rear of The People’s Palace, during peak-time broadcasting slots. The problems first arose during the station’s test broadcast week leading to the cancellation of many prime-time shows.

The access problems came to the attention of station manager Lucy Furneaux on Wednesday 8th October having received no prior contact as to what the building work involved, its purpose or how it may affect the running of the radio station. Furneaux immediately contacted the Estates and Facilities department, only to be bounced back and forth between staff providing only vague information.

Discussions between Union staff, departmental staff and Quest are ongoing. The university cites health and safety concerns as the reasoning behind access problems. Without staff in the building during the later slots they believe there is an inability to properly account for people in the event of a fire. Due to the need for fluidity in programming, Quest require multiple access cards for their members and the access problems are likely to persist. The university have released a statement on the issue, commenting:

“Following conversations with Students’ Union Societies’ representatives earlier this month, an alternative access route to the Quest Radio studios in the People’s Palace through the Engineering Building was identified. Unfortunately, it appears that the information regarding that access was not shared sufficiently and this has clearly caused problems for members of the Quest Radio team gaining access to their studios. The Estates and Facilities team are now working closely with Quest Radio and the Students’ Union to ensure that access to the studios is maintained throughout the building work. Demolition and building work is scheduled to take place from 8am to 6pm during the week and we are speaking with both the building contractor and Quest Radio to try to minimise the impact on peak recording times.”

QMSU President, Dola Osilaja has also commented on the issue, “This is an issue that QMSU do not take lightly as we try to accommodate for all students at a time that is reasonable for them. QMSU and Campus Projects have agreed to a process that will allow students access to the radio station until 9pm during the week and we are currently in talks with Security about the Health and Safety concerns surrounding the issue.”

Previously nominated for an SRA award in 2012, the station has faced major problems in the past with accessibility. The Quest Studio is on the fifth floor at the back of the People’s Palace and thus has no disabled access. Due to the studio being situated in a grade two building, further sound proofing is also not an option to combat the amplified noise pollution from the construction work.

Station manager, Lucy Furneaux has commented, “This whole situation is extremely disrespectful to Quest and the students involved. We began working in May, the plans for the grad centre were released in February 2012, yet there was absolutely no contact or consultation with us whatsoever. Since raising these issues it has taken nearly two weeks for the problem to still not be properly fixed; in the meantime I’ve had to cancel shows and apologise profusely to those paying members who have been denied their slots. It’s disheartening telling people they can’t broadcast because of access issues, and shameful to tell people that they can’t broadcast because we have no disabled access. This absence of communication is another example of disregard for the radio station and its members.”

The problems come in the wake of a promising summer for Quest Radio. Paid membership is up 21% on last year and the media outlet has over forty weekly shows scheduled for this year with an impressive, but as of yet, still under wraps selection of special guests as well as exciting coverage.

EDITOR’S NOTE: At the time of this issue going to print (Friday 17th October 2014), access problems for Quest members, due to building work, between 5pm and 9pm have been resolved.

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