People That Make Bradford Sparkle | Team BCB Radio

We’ve been looking for the People That Make Bradford Sparkle – those people in our communities who have gone the extra mile to make us smile. We want to shine a spotlight on the individuals that have spread a sparkle of joy throughout the district this year.

This week’s People That Make Bradford Sparkle are the team from BCB Radio – Bradford Community Broadcasting. Run by the irrepressible Mary Dowson, the staff and volunteers at BCB have been nominated for keeping us informed and entertained throughout lockdown, overcoming technical challenges and embracing new ways of working to keep community programmes on air.  You can tune in at: BCB106.6fm or www.bcbradio.co.uk

BCB prides itself on its community broadcasting with distinctive radio programmes made for and by the people of Bradford. For over 25 years, BCB has supported local people to be active in their community, the city, and to have a voice in the media. Around 200 active volunteers present and produce programmes, from 10 year olds to 80 year olds, living in every postcode across Bradford.

Located at the heart of the district next to the Oastler Market in the city centre, the station focuses on Bradford chat during the day with discussions, current affairs, magazine programmes and what’s on guides focusing on Bradford’s events, communities and neighbourhoods. In the evenings you could be listening to programmes from BCB’s youth or Asian strands or specialist music from around the world. It’s always worth looking at the schedule as you might be tuning into a programme about the Bantams, science, food or mental health.

​Since March 2020, with the studios closed, the BCB team has had to come up with creative ways to keep programming going and keep Bradford connected. Lockdown has meant staff and volunteers have had to quickly adapt to new technologies, supporting each other to be able to broadcast from home. BCB has managed to maintain the bulk of its programming using inventive new ideas. Interviews and shows are now recorded via zoom, or over the telephone for people without access to the internet. Creating community over the airwaves is an important aim for BCB.

During lockdown, a new Bradford news service has been introduced with two bulletins a day focusing on government announcements, local restrictions and reflecting the issues of the day and how they’re affecting communities across the district. “It’s amazing what we’ve been able to do in lockdown” says Mary. “Some of our volunteers have more time to dedicate to local news gathering and we’ve seen what it’s possible to achieve.”

Another new and popular addition is the Grow Your Own Way gardening show with Martin Bijl and Sarah White recorded from their allotments in Bingley. Programmes are recorded from Martin’s greenhouse and Sarah’s shed and interviews are conducted on Martin’s phone using a 2m social distancing pole! Tune in for seasonal gardening and growing advice, whether you have a window box or an allotment of your own.  

Martin recording from the greenhouse

“BCB is community plus radio” says Mary. “We’ve managed to keep the radio going and it’s been fantastic how we’ve supported each other with the challenges of remote recording, but it’s the community that we’re missing, what happens in the building – our common purpose and the spontaneity when everyone is live in the studio, so we can’t wait to get back. But in the meantime, the real positives are the new skills we’ve learned and discovering some of the advantages of our new way of working – people can contribute from their own homes and we have access to people in other places – one of our presenters who recently moved now joins us from France!”

Even during the COVID-19 lockdown, BCB are encouraging new people to get actively involved. The team are always on the lookout for new programming ideas and volunteers behind the scenes. If you’d like to be involved, or have a suggestion for a programme you’d like to hear, or make, BCB can help support you to get it to air.

Senior Moments programme recorded via Zoom

“At BCB we want to encourage people to tell their own stories in their own way” says Mary. “We’re keen on helping people to become active producers and broadcasters rather than just consumers of content and we’re always looking for new local interest stories and local voices. Taking part in radio broadcasting is such a great way to build up skills and confidence too.”

Submit a proposal no matter how niche says Mary and BCB will consider it – if it matters to you in Bradford, it probably matters to other listeners too. Training and support are provided.

For now, BCB continues to work hard to be a voice for Bradford during lockdown. February sees the celebration of LGBTQ+ history month with a range of programmes featuring on the station; and in March, for International Women’s Day, there will be a series of programmes and specials throughout the month.

For more information on programming, to listen live, or for details of how to get involved you can tune in at: BCB106.6fm or visit the BCB website: www.bcbradio.co.uk/

The ‘People That Make Bradford Sparkle’ campaign will run from December to February and will showcase the unsung heroes across the district, including those people who work in retail, tourism or hospitality. To make a nomination, email: hello@sparklingbradford.com or leave a comment on the Visit Bradford Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/visitBradford