Bristol's independent electronic music station, SWU.FM, has announced it will cease operations and close as a result of rising costs and soaring energy bills. The platform will cease broadcasting today, 1st September.
“SWU launched in the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak and took heavy financial losses in this period," the team said in a social media statement. "Against the odds, we managed to survive various lockdowns, navigate restrictions and stabilise. However, recent risings costs and massive energy bill increases have made it impossible for us to continue."
The station launched in 2020, made possible through years of hard work by those responsible. Giving air time to a range of dance sounds, from jungle and drum & bass to house, techno, dub and reggae, the first day of broadcasting saw Conducta host a guest slot, and subsequently the likes of Addison Groove, LCY, Om Unit, DJ Die, and Sam Binga hosted regular mixes and live shows. Major festivals We Out Here and Love Saves The Day also ran takeovers.
An outpouring of support has followed news of SWU's closure, with some questioning why vital grassroots community hubs must suffer as a result of an ongoing lack of clarity from the UK government with regard to support for people and businesses in the midst of skyrocketing energy bills.
Neither candidate for the next Prime Minister of the UK — Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak — has provided details of a robust support package in the midst of the cost of living crisis. As of 1st October, energy bills in Britain are expected to rise by an average of 80%, with industry regulator Ofgem setting a new price cap of £3,549 per year. Crucially, this only applies to residential addresses, meaning commercial properties are not protected.
In August, five bodies representing nightlife and hospitality — Music Venue Trust, Night-Time Industries Association, UK Hospitality, The British Institute of Innkeeping and The British Beer and Pub Association — issued an open letter warning policymakers of the "grave risk" to venues spiralling costs posed, with many already seeing outgoings increase by 30% since reopening in July 2021 following years of closure and financial loss due to the pandemic, in which one-in-five UK clubs went out of business.