Goodbye Media Group

When we started the Media Group in 2011, we had no idea that it would touch so many lives and in such a positive way.

In 2011 myself and a colleague called Tom used our contacts at BCFM Radio to pioneer a six week media course for service users at Second Step. For me, community broadcasting is about giving voice to some of the most silenced people in our society, which sadly has frequently included people with disabilities, people with mental health problems, and people who have been impacted by housing fragility, all of whom Second Step works with.

Our service users took to broadcasting like proverbial ducks to water. They studied and learned and made several great programmes for BCFM which included live music and people’s own compositions, a tradition continued on our last show with an exclusive performance from Katie.

Alliances

We also forged an alliance with Ujima Radio, and put together five or six programmes, including one I am particularly proud of, the General Election special for 2015. We invited candidates from across the political spectrum including the Lord Mayor, Claire Campion-Smith. The guests faced polite but poignant grilling by the group addressing issues like why so many black men are given a diagnosis of schizophrenia?

People who came through the Media Group and gained experience from it included Sonic, who was a presenter on the influential 1990’s junglist pirate station Ragga FM. He regained the confidence to go back into the music scene. We also worked with South Bristol’s internet station BASE Radio, and Danny, another member of the group, gained a regular slot there, which he continues to this day.

Progressing

He said that his involvement in Djing and presenting has changed his life and credits it with turning him around. For us staff, that is a really touching and moving validation for the work we have put in to the Media Group. Jacqui graduated from the Media Group to helping out more generally on Ujima Radio. Meanwhile, our long standing member Cath appeared on BBC Radio Bristol and took part in the BBC-2 network TV show “Trust Me I’m a Doctor”. The list of what people have done goes on and on.

Around 40 people have used the Media Group over the years and have gained experience in scripting, editing, and executing programmes. We have been helped on our journey by Rosalind Moreno-Parra who has brought her experience of working in television to help the programmes we make achieve a professional sound. Tim Day has provided consistent technical operational support and on one occasion, we were able to stream the celebrations at our Autumn Service User event over the air at BASE Radio.

In Closing

I would like to encourage people to take heed of the old anarchist slogan “Don’t Hate the Media, Become the Media”. There is much junk of course, but there are also some real diamonds to be found. Be discerning, and if there is nothing that represents you, then think about creating your own podcast, or joining a local hospital, cable or community radio service.

For those of us impacted by mental health issues and other disabilities, radio gives us a chance to speak directly to the public and challenge stereotypes and prejudice. I still listen to radio stations from across the world and on the old shortwave bands to get a wide variety of voices and music in my daily life. I wish you happy listening.

When the legendary Radio Luxembourg sadly closed down in 1990, DJ Mike Hollis signed off with words that we can also use: “May the Second Step Media Group live on forever in your fondest memories”.  

You can hear the Media Group’s final show on Friday 20 December between 2pm and 4pm on Ujima Radio.

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