The Babbers show is a community radio show created by and for older people in Bristol. The show presents a positive portrayal of ageing, challenges ageist stereotypes and provides information about activities and services available in the city.
The Babbers show started in 2015, when Bristol Ageing Better first began, and has broadcasted weekly shows ever since from Ujima Radio 98fm. Ujima Radio was the natural home for the Babbers, as a station committed to promoting diversity and providing a platform for under-represented groups in the media; they recognised that older people are one such group.
The Babbers is run entirely by volunteers who have put an outstanding amount of work into the show since they began. During lockown the Babbers volunteers had to adapt and learn how to make recordings from home. A number of the volunteers have decided that now is the time for a break for the show and the 31st August was the last show broadcast for the time being. Ujima Radio are committed to supporting the Babbers return in the future.
We spoke to Judith Brown, BAB trustee and Babbers radio host, and Miranda Rae, Broadcast Manager at Ujima Radio Station, about their experience on the show.
Judith Brown: “From the moment we first thought of a Radio programme run by and for older people, I loved Babbers. I should do, I named it! I loved it when it was live and immediate, and you had to keep going; I loved being in the studio and putting sometimes very nervous people at ease; I loved thinking of new issues to bring to the programme, and on a very personal level it helped get me though the first weeks after my husband Martyn's death. I couldn't sit and brood if I had to get on and record something at home because of lockdown.
And all the Babbers! Over 5 years we've had quite a few, but all brought new skills and ideas. Paulette, who trained the first group,Alan, who brought his seeing eye dog to the studio, Gabby, in her wheelchair, Ruth, a warm and youthful presence; Gail, who held us together for so long, Anna, who took over the task, JK, so sadly missed after his death, and Zia, are just some of my older memories, while Dave, Kerry, Kate Tony and Eddy are with us today. I know there are people I missed out, but you were all part of something quite unique, however long or short your stay. And there was the help we got from BAB. Wonderful Alex and Tess who delivered us the Whats Ons, Vibeke, Silvia, Carly, Claire.
I found the first letter I wrote about Babbers, I said I wanted to make a show which put older people in touch with people who had the power, and people who worked for the community, and people who are part of Bristol's history, and looking at some of my guests, that’s what we did. Examples include: Roy Hackett, Black Carers, The head of the NHS in the old Avon area, the head of community nursing, Councillors of all description, Tony talking about Dementia, James Freeman from First Bus, two elected Mayors, two lord Mayors, People talking about being bisexual, Gay West, Grandparents of gay grandchildren, Freddie from Gay Pride, are all just some of my guests over the years. So, shall I miss Babbers? I think you know the answer to that! And if ever there is a chance of bringing it back - I'll be there!”
Miranda Rae: “I joined Ujima Radio as Broadcast Manager in June 2018 and the team stood out straight away as they not only welcomed me with open arms but I could see the commitment, hardwork and planning that went into this weekly programme, no “show & go” for these guys.
Working with Babbers and BAB has had a huge effect on my life and has actually been life changing. I have now worked on two separate projects with older people and I have learnt so much and made friends for life.
It is an incredible emotional and sad time to see this team moving on, their solidarity and commitment to get Babbers on air during the lockdown leaves me speechless and I will miss them all so much.
Ujima Radio is 100% committed to continuing the show and are already training a new team; we will be focusing on our elders from the Black community and giving a platform to voices rarely heard in this landscape. Watch this space!”
Meanwhile, if you find yourself missing the Babbers Show, you can listen to all of their shows again online: https://www.mixcloud.com/BabbersShow/
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