Did I ever tell you I’ve a 10 year old living and growing in Cambridge? Don’t worry, I haven’t left a school age child to fend for themselves in a city over 200 miles from where I live and type. No, I’m talking about Flavour, the community radio show I devised, produced and presented when I lived in Cambridge between 2007 and 2009.
I’ve always loved radio, especially non-commerical community stations. I spent years living in London volunteering for hospital radio stations, RSLs (short term stations) and oral history projects. I couldn’t believe my luck when I heard 209radio, Cambridge’s vibrant community radio station. I got involved in the station at management level but wanted to present and produce my own show.
The station’s schedule was filled with arts and specialist music shows. It didn’t need another artsy show but I realised there was no coverage of the city’s wide-ranging food and drink scene. I pitched an hour-long Saturday lunchtime show: Flavour of the Month to the station’s programming committee and got the green light in spring 2007.
The first show was researched, scripted, presented and produced by me and went out live on Saturday 14th July 2007. Station manager Karl Hartland twiddled the knobs for the first few shows but soon I was driving the desk as well as meeting and greeting then interviewing guests and managing volunteers.
Flavour of the Month (FOTM for short) was fuelled by my rampant curiosity and unashamed gluttony. It gave me the excuse to interview publicans, bakers, chefs, allotment owners as well as a broad section of Cambridge residents. These residents included a Muslim scholar talking about Ramadan, fellow 209radio volunteers celebrating Chinese New Year plus a second generation Polish man talking about his family’s Christmas traditions.
During my two years on Flavour I held down a full-time job in London which meant I spent over 20 hours a week commuting between the office and home. When I wasn’t sleeping or eating, I was preparing for the show. Why? Because nothing beats the buzz of live radio. Nothing!
I stepped away from FOTM in spring 2009 as I prepared to relocate back to the North East. I left the show in the hands of my co-presenter Louise Hawes and new-ish volunteer, Matt Bentman. Matt now produces and co-presents the show with Alan Alder. Together they’ve shaped Flavour into a slick, professional show but it still has the fun and curiosity I insisted on including in the radio recipe I wrote back in 2007. Flavour broadcasts live every other Saturday lunchtime on 209radio’s successor, Cambridge 105.
I’ve followed Flavour’s progress over the years and earlier this year I suggested we celebrate the show’s 10th birthday with a feature. I returned to Cambridge last week and met Matt in one of the city’s institutions, CB2 Bistro on Norfolk Street. We talked about the early days, the scripts and the show’s original theme tune, Plantation Inn by Stax house band, The Mar-Keys. We also made this wee advert for the anniversary show.
After the interview I wandered through Cambridge’s streets and green spaces. I saw huge, horrible changes as well as reassuringly familiar sights including The Cambridge Blue and The Geldart pubs plus Al-Amin shop on Mill Road.
The 10th anniversary show was broadcast on Saturday 8th July 2017 and you can hear it here. Matt’s created an impressive audio tapestry and it’s great to hear us laughing and enjoying ourselves. I’m proud of what I achieved and I love to hear Matt’s wit and interview technique plus Alan’s relaxed broadcasting style. The show’s new theme tune is Bowie’s Sound and Vision. How apt as Matt and Alan create sounds and images that linger in the listener’s mind.
Flavour was and still is about the stories of the interviewees rather than the egos of the interviewers. Go Flavour! Here’s to another decade of audio history making.