Wed 05 May, 2024

Who are the Prison Radio Association?

We are the Prison Radio Association. We work with prisoners and ex-prisoners to create award-winning radio and podcasts that help people to cope with life inside and on release from prison.

We are the charity behind the National Prison Radio station and the Life After Prison podcast.

Our vision is a world where life-changing media offers solutions, reshapes perspectives and reduces crime. Our mission is to produce high-quality, solutions-focused radio and podcasts that amplify the voices of people with prison experience.

We want to ensure that every prisoner across England and Wales has access to the support, the information and the inspiration they need in order to work towards a brighter future beyond bars.

What’s our story?

In 2006, in response to a growing demand from prisons to engage with prison radio, the Prison Radio Association was set up by our Chief Executive, Phil Maguire OBE.

In 2007 the governor of HMP Brixton, Paul McDowell, invited the charity to set up and run a radio station in the prison. Electric Radio Brixton was launched, broadcasting programmes made by prisoners directly into the cells.

In 2009 we founded the world’s first national radio station for people in prison – National Prison Radio – and everything changed.

National Prison Radio – made by prisoners, for prisoners – is the world’s first national radio station for people in prison. It’s available in prison cells across England and Wales 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It has a potential reach of 88,000 people.

With HQs at HMP Brixton and HMP Styal we train up to 30 prisoners a year in radio production and presenting. The audio they go on to create is then broadcast nationally via National Prison Radio; reaching prisoners directly in their cells in a way that no other intervention can.

We unearth talent behind bars and support people into training and employment in the production sector on release. And through Prison Radio International, we lead the global prison radio movement.

Since 2009, we’ve picked up 65 awards, partnered with hundreds of organisations and been a genuine lifeline to those behind bars during some of the most difficult times in people’s lives.

And now, we want to make sure everyone knows who we are and how we are improving the lives of prisoners and those recently released.

We want to play a part in changing the narrative around people in prison, we want to show that with the right support, people can absolutely thrive in prison and on release.

In recent years we’ve transformed the way we work and have entered into a more public facing space. In 2022 we launched Life After Prison; the UK’s first podcast made by ex-prisoners, for ex-prisoners and we are proud to be working with more ex-prisoners on the outside than ever before, through our talent development programme.

What has our impact been?

– We’ve received 65 awards over the years; most recently we won six, including a Gold at the 2024 UK ARIAS (Audio and Radio Industry Awards).

More than 20% of our staff have spent time in prison and we are continuing to build on this.

– Our Life After Prison podcast has been engaged with online over 8 million times.

– Of the prisoners who are able to listen to National Prison Radio, 88% tune in, with 42% tuning in every single day of their sentence.

– Since 2019 National Prison Radio has been on demand on in-cell laptops via Launchpad. These are now provided in 16 prisons across England and Wales. In 2023, our content was listened to 4.38 million times.

– In 2023 we visited 63 prisons to produce content with people serving custodial sentences, working with over 500 individuals.

– In 2023 we featured 328 organisations that work in the criminal justice sector on National Prison Radio.

In the last year alone we received 49,858 communications from prisoners which included 37,042 calls and letters from prisoners. We provide a safe space for prisoners to express themselves and connect with each other and our staff through the power of radio:

You provide a sense of belonging and family, stability and comfort every week for all of us who tune in, which I know I certainly value so much. I grew up in a dysfunctional household of alcohol dependents and never really felt like I could rely on the people I needed too. We all know that once a week for 1 hour 48/49 minutes that James and more recently Ollie will deliver us with a show, not just about the music but delivered with a sense of love and humanity that many of us haven’t been afforded in life.”

Listener in HMP Garth

Sometimes when I have had a difficult day, I will listen to the Rock Show and it’s like coming home. I feel instantly supported/comforted.” – Listener in HMP New Hall

Big shout out to the National Prison Radio staff, you keep me sane, you really have been a lifeline whilst I’ve been in prison, your stories, your advice, your support, your general banter, absolutely fantastic show. I’m not just saying this, I genuinely feel blessed to have been able to listen to National Prison Radio and some of the stories, the messages of hope, even the yoga and meditation classes. I try and keep a positive mental attitude even though I do struggle with my mental health, I am not ashamed to admit it. They can lock the locks but can’t stop the clocks. I’ve needed to speak to the listeners at my lowest points when suicidal, but I’ve been listening to National Prison Radio when thinking these silly thoughts, and I’ve heard people like Duewaine telling me to pick up the phone, speak to Samaritans and genuinely yous might not know it, but yous are genuinely saving lives and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Blessings to everyone, keep up the good work.” – Listener in HMP Risley

I am a Shannon Trust mentor, every Tuesday we hold a Free Flow show ourselves, every Tuesday we all sit down and write bars, all these people ringing in from HMP Liverpool is coming from my Shannon Trust mentor group, so shout out Lady Unchained and National Prison Radio. I tell you you’re changing lives through the radio, you’re doing a big job, we’re all blasting you on the wing thank you. Arthur, producer, big up yourself my G. I’ve been listening to you for years, I’ve watched it blossom, I’ve watched it blow. So thank you to National Prison Radio. Keep doing it, keep shouting us out and we’ll keep ringing in, love from the Scousers.– Listener in HMP Liverpool

Big up Lady Unchained, not going to lie what she’s doing on National Prison Radio’s Free Flow, it inspires the yutes and gets them to stop talking about violence and all of this and that man. Keep doing what you lot are doing man, it’s real talk, it’s lit man. People from the streets are starting to realise we can do more, we can do better, big up National Prison Radio, you lot are doing bits.” – Listener in HMP Whitemoor

Massive shout out to Ali, you’ve helped me all the way through my sentence bro and I appreciate it so much. As it’s coming to the end, I see how much the music has lifted my spirit and kept me going. I went through some hard times, done a long sentence, but you lot have kept me going. Massive shout out to National Prison Radio, keep it going, keep on putting in the work because you are helping us people that are locked in the system, they can lock the locks but they can’t stop the clocks.” – Listener in HMP Wetherby

Big respect to the whole team, keep doing what you’re doing because you’re inspirational. I am 36, when I was younger we didn’t have this, we had elders which was madness, bad examples, bad role models, and now you’ve got the people on National Prison Radio, it doesn’t matter what they do or have done, all it matters is that they are spitting out good vibes, and as a person who has had a pretty wild life, it must be doing some young ones good, it’s doing me good, because when I was younger, we didn’t have it, so big up the National Prison Radio team. Thank you for all your kind words and getting me by, nearly at a year of no self harm, I’m dead proud of that, my mum’s proud, all my family are, so thanks to the National Prison Radio team you were there for me on the TV.”Listener in HMP Wayland

Really don’t know what I’d do without National Prison Radio for the smiles, tears and company you bring me virtually 24/7. You’re absolute stars and angels every one of you involved with station and broadcasts! The Freedom Inside shows are just so awesome and helpful for me – you give me the ability to let myself come apart and be able to put myself back together rather than just completely falling apart and staying in a million pieces until whenever or whatever. I really don’t know what I’d do without the shows as they also help keep me on track with trying to practice both yoga and meditation on my own.” – Listener in HMP Dovegate

These communications go to show just how much the power of audio can transform lives.

By providing opportunities for people in prison to be trained in radio production and have their voices heard and their passions shared nationally, we can support individuals to build brighter futures beyond bars.

We’re about to launch our social media to the world. If you’d like to stay up to speed with what’s going on with the Prison Radio Association you can follow us on:

X – @prisonradiouk
Instagram – @prisonradiouk
TikTok – @prisonradiouk
Facebook – Prison Radio Association
LinkedIn – Prison Radio Association

If you would like to support our work, and enhance the futures of people in prison across the UK you can make a donation at