Tim Kirby (CEED) Interview

Interviewer: Magdalena

Organisation: CEED

Date: 13/01/12

Interview: 30:13:0

MAGDERLIN: Definitely not. Ok, it looks like we started. Um, first of all, thank you so much for agreeing that I can do an interview with you that’s, that’s going to be a big pleasure, I’m very excited, as usual. Um, I’m going to talk about your background a little bit. Can you tell me, can you first of all tell me what’s you’re full name and where were you born?

TIM: My name is Tim Curby and I was born in the Westminster, London

MAGDERLIN: And when did you come to England, to sorry (Laughter) to Bristol ha, ha, ha?

TIM: I moved to Bristol in, just before 2000, the end of 1999. Um, so just over 11 years I’ve been here in Bristol. Moved from Redding where I was for based for 7 years, um having left London in 1989.

MAGDERLIN: I’m a bit curious about your childhood as well. How was it err, like err, to growing up in London?

TIM: It’s good. Yeah, we were on the outskirts of London. Um, so I guess we stayed within that area pretty much but err, as a teenager I was always going up to the centre of London. Really loved going up to Carnaby Street, to some of the clubs there, I got into my late teens um, before leaving to go to University. It’s good, I really enjoyed it, it’s the hustle and bustle is great when you’re young. Maybe not so easy when you’re a bit older and want a more peaceful life. But err, but then it was great err, everything was on your doorstep um, and I was on North London, the outskirts, it was a quite green area as well, similar to places in Bristol. So you didn’t have to go far until you reached countryside, but you were close to the centre of London as well so it was nice.

MAGDERLIN: So it seems like you enjoyed it. How about Bristol? Why you came here what was the reason?

TIM: Why Bristol? Um, I say I spent time in Redding and that was great, but Redding’s great quite small, quite a close nit community. And I felt after almost 8 years I done as much as I could in Redding and I was kind of stumbling over the same people doing the small things and wanted to go somewhere a bit bigger where there’s a few more challenges I guess. I didn’t want to go back to London. Um, I spent 19 years in London and I think that’s enough. I wanted to go somewhere that was in between and Bristol was, you know, on the doorstep, a lot of people said good things about Bristol. Um, the Culture, the music scene um, the media scene in Bristol is really active to me. And although I hadn’t spent anytime him previously and I knew know one here when I moved, um, just that buzz was enough and we came here and visited a few times. It’s definitely somewhere in between the two. It’s got that buzz of London but its still got that proximity that you can cross-town quite quickly. Um, so we thought lets give Bristol a try and that’s 11 years ago and were still here.

MAGDERLIN: You said we so do you mean you and who?

TIM: That was with my wife. She was, at the time I think we’ve been married just a year so err, we came with no kids and now we have 3 kids here in Bristol. And um, likewise she knew know one in Bristol um; we had no jobs um, knowing pretty much nothing about Bristol. But we knew Bristol had some opportunities to offer us so we said that we would give it a go.

MAGDERLIN: That’s really amazing because after you said it, it looks like we came to Bristol for exactly the same reasons, (laughter).


MAGDERLIN: But now on its ok, more about your involvement within Black Minority Organisations in Bristol. Err, can you tell me, who, what organisation you currently work for.

TIM: I’ve been working for Ujima Radio CIC, Community Interest Company.

MAGDERLIN: Um, what you doing there? What’s your position in the company?

TIM: I’m a Director in the company and my role is station operations. So that covers the day-to-day running of the station. Although, I’m only based here 3 days a week, I spend a long time outside of that working on err, station issues, being e-mail or telephone station issues during the week. Um, that, that covers a multitude of tasks to be honest. It fundamentally focuses around training and programming of the station. Um, but there is so many other things that go on here, um, the finance side, um, looking after the office, the administration and working as a mental to other volunteers, err, individuals that are helping err, outside of the studio.

MAGDERLIN: Thank you. Um, how, how long have you been working err, as a Director?

TIM: Um, well the CIC is relatively new. It was set up as a community interest company just over a year ago, um, November 2010. Um as a Director, just over a year but the station itself it’s been going 3 years. Um, so I’ve been involved from the start in the station.

MAGDERLIN: Can you tell me a bit more about the station? What kind of people does it serve?

TIM: Predominantly as it’s described in the licence, we are working with the black African communities from St Paul’s and Easton. Um, that’s not exclusively but predominately we are, um, working with those communities to get involved in the station first and forth most. Um, train them that need training, um, therefore giving those people from those communities a voice. Um, even within their own communities, also through the whole of Bristol and outside because of course were online so anyone from around the world can listen to the our station and get a sense of what these communities feel about their lives here in Bristol.

MAGDERLIN: That’s great and do you have any feed back from the audience, what they think, and do they appreciate Ujima and what kind of feedback are you getting as a Director?

TIM: Yeah, we get some really positive feedback. Not all positive, but that’s good as well. We learn from any negative feedback that’s come to the station. I think we always got more we can do at the station and more that the volunteers can gain from spending time here at the station. But in general the feedback is really positive that comes from the volunteers themselves that are involved with the station but also the listeners saying great music, great chat, how can we get involved, how can we contribute? And that really is key that we want the listeners to contribute to the station and help grow the station from, from roots upwards and I think as a community station which we are, um, it’s essential that we do work with the communities which are local and also outside of Bristol and get them involved. It’s not a station which is, is separate from the individuals that listen, we really want their views, we want them to be part of the station. So we need to work, um, at different ides, um, how we can attract them and get them involved.

MAGDERLIN: Um, of course that are very attracted to Ujima, not only because of good music and good programmes, good chat, but also because Ujima is getting involved in different kind of events in Bristol and around. Can you tell me what kind of events are they?

TIM: Yeah, we do quite a lot of work outside of the station, outside of the broadcast hours. Um, and were keen to take the station out to the rest of the city, especially into places where we don’t have so many listeners. So we go into the of heart city, we’ve had a few events at Colston Hall, um, lyrical minded event mostly recently, which is spoken word poetry as well as some local musicians. Err, and again the focus is on working with local people that are, are working within these fields. And that stems from our show, Sunday evening, with Milo, which is lyrical minded. Um, so he helped coordinate the poets err, and spoken words artist musicians for that event. And it means that were not just on the airwaves as err, a black radio station, um, but were there in the heart of the centre. Anyone can come and see what’s going on and share the passion our listeners and our volunteers have within the station. Um, more, more recently we had pick of the week show, which is started up on BBC Radio Bristol. So outside of our own airwaves we are partnering up with the local BBC station and err, highlighting the best parts of what goes here err, in Ujima from week to week and that’s another fantastic part of the partnership within Bristol. Um, of course we have the Carnival once a year, St Paul’s Carnival, it’s on our doorstep and were literally in the heart of St Paul’s, it’s just there, it’s made for us um, so we take a big role there within the um, not so much the organising but err, sharing stages. We had a joint broadcast with BBC Bristol again at the last festival, um, we want to do more next year, we want to be involved with the actual running of part of this Carnival because as I say were right in the heart of it. And in terms of people that we reach and people involved in the station, it very much is in resonance with the passion and life that goes on once a year, here in St Paul’s within err, St Paul’s Carnival.

MAGDERLIN: It looks like, um well, Ujima started 3 years ago slowly, slowly but now it looks like it is going faster and faster, it’s almost galloping now.

TIM: I think so. Yeah, and I think that’s what we always anticipated it would do. Ah, I think people have wanted this kind of radio, station, radio, excuse me, people have wanted this kind of radio station for a long while. It’s, it’s been a real necessary to get people from the local areas involved in this, which is a professional radio station. Were community but we feel were professional, as well and we have always aimed to be. Err, and so the years have rolled on, more people are getting involved, more people are being trained and I think the quality of the programming has improved. More people know that we exist and we will go from strength to strength. Um, you know by word of mouth alone um, we have more listeners, we know that people contact us via text, via e-mail, via phone; they are increasing as time progresses. More people want to get involved with the station, more partnerships are coming from other organisations within Bristol, so it’s looking very healthy and we’ve 2 years left of this current license and I see no reason why wouldn’t be given another 5 year license from OFCOM, come 2013.

MAGDERLIN: So um, maybe the next step would be ah, Ujima awards. What do you think about this idea?

TIM: Sorry, could you

MAGDERLIN: Awards err…

TIM: Ujima awards?

MAGDERLIN: for best Artist or the best um, the best Bristolian Artist, or the best dub step artist, dub step DJ, do you think err, Ujima awards is something you see as the future?

TIM: Absolutely, I think Ujima could do anything it wants to from now onwards. Ujima awards is definitely something that could take place in the future. Ujima TV is taking off now on our website but that could be a TV channel in it’s own right and there’s no reason why Ujima can’t do all of these things. It’s as I said before, it’s very much guided by and supported by the local community. So if the community wants it hard enough they come and get involved, it will happen. It just needs those hours of excellence from people that are here, bursting with creative talent and we can help guide that talent into something that is real. Ah, and so yeah within 5 years time Ujima could be a huge national brand, even international brand and there’s no reason why not.

MAGDERLIN: You said that there is a lot of talented people on, on the station err, but they are from different kind of backgrounds, can you, can you tell me what do you think err, those people and their heritages is, how they contributing to the station to the, and also to the, to the landscaping of, of culture, of culture of Southwest, in Southwest?

TIM: Yeah, I think first and forth most as a radio station we are very different from the other radio stations here in Bristol because we do have such a wealth of diversity. We have people that of, who families have come from Africa the Caribbean for example, as well as other um, places around the world. And people who have been born and bread here in Bristol but have that heritage none the less. So that culture comes through the music, through the discussions and through sometimes the hardships and celebrations that these different cultures that are here in Bristol. And a huge part of Bristol um, there not represented and I think that’s widely recognised with other radio stations um, throughout Bristol and so you know, were quite unique in that we, we have a real discussion with theses communities and I think that these communities in turn, our listenership feel that were approachable and therefore people can come literally to the sometimes and say this is what is happening in my community, can I share it with you? Can I come and talk about this? You might not find that on other stations, so we that proximity to the community, because A were in the heart of it and B the actual volunteers themselves come from those communities and that is not always the case on radio. They’re actually living um, through the same experiences as our their listeners and can help our listeners um, portray that information, celebrate and err, share those frustrations maybe about daily life here in Bristol. So I think that, that is key that the volunteers share that with their audience. And therefore, there’s a, there is realness about the station, a liveliness um, spark about the station because these people are a, there coming from the community and through the station they may not have those technical skills initially, but were able to give them the skills they can share that bight spark with the rest of Bristol.

MAGDERLIN: (Laugher) that’s really well said, thank you. Um, I want to come back about maybe one more question about the events because Ujima is involved err, very deeply with Black History Month. Maybe you can tell me more about, about this involvement and how does it work?

TIM: Yeah, to a certain extent every month is Black History Month for Ujima because of who we are and what we reflect. But it’s true, come October, Um, there are many different events that go on around Bristol from all walks of life and all corners, organisations that focus on Black history and Ujima of course has a big role to play within that month. So I mean various events that ah, happened for us as Ujima, I mean the Lyrical Minded happened in that month at Colston Hall and as well we worked with Nia our chart presenter um, and Miss Define, who produces the Define hour on Wednesday evenings. In working with local artist in coming together and in the Colston Hall foyer in part of Black History Month we managed to highlight the local talent that is around us, that comes though the chart show, through Ujima in terms of it’s broadcasting err, and gave the opportunity for our listeners and just people that happened to be around in town to experience them live and to come and meet and greet some of the presenters themselves. As well as having spoken word and film showings, which came from all walks of lives from some sort of poetry, documentary styles. Err, so for us, it’s important that we try to cover all of these fields, these different err, media, ah, sorry.

MAGDERLIN: Maybe if I can stop you actually because Nia’s is a bit, err…

TIM: A bit loud?

MAGDERLIN: Yeah, a bit loud. So I’m going to ask her to…Hello, sorry guys, if you could keep the noise down. I’m actually recording your voice (laughter). It was actually funny, we were talking and Nia was yes, yes, yes, saying that she agreeing with you. (Laughter) Ok, so we go from point 15…

Ok, um, I think it’s time to go to the third part of the interview, which is your personal opinion about Black Minority Organisations in Southwest. Can you tell me what you think about them and are they successful; are they needed in the area?

TIM: Of course they are essential um, and being part of one, which is Ujima Radio…

MAGDERLIN: If I can just maybe stop you here, if I can start from the beginning, because you know my voice is going to be cut out. So if you can start, include the question, with this one especially.

TIM: Yeah, sure. Can you ask the question again and I’ll flow from there.

MAGDERLIN: Ok, so what do you think about Black Minority Organisations in this area? Which I mean is what is your personal opinion and do you think they are needed in the area? Are they needed?

TIM: The Black Ethic Minority organisations in Bristol are essential. Um, within Bristol there, there are many of them and I think that they are finding it more and more difficult to survive. But it’s key that they do survive and they continue because they are a cushion, um, they err, welcoming to those communities but also their an access point for those communities to all sorts of things that would otherwise would get um, un-served and I think, sorry, can we start again?

MAGDERLIN: Yeah sure of course, we’ve got time, don’t worry.

TIM: That’s fine. Ok, go the question again and um.

MAGDERLIN: Um, so what do you think about Black Minorities organisations err, in general? Are they useful?

TIM: Black Ethic Minority organisations are hugely important um, to the community, especially here in Bristol. There’s a huge Black Ethic Minority community in Bristol and essential that they have options in terms if they need to get training, they need advice. Um, they want to get involved with Bristol life and I think, you know, it’s noted elsewhere that sometimes they are barriers for certain individuals, certain communities in having those opportunities. Um, with out those organisations then there is no where to turn. It’s essential they continue as the radio station Ujima welcomes the communities um, that it’s set out to serve via OFCOM, which is the African, Caribbean communities in St Paul’s and Easton. If you don’t have that gateway then sometimes there, there is nowhere else to turn. And ah, you know, it’s essential that those opportunities are clear and welcoming and that’s part of our role here is, is to make sure that people know we are here and we can help them along the next step of the ladder bit through education or employment.

MAGDERLIN: Um, I was just thinking because you’re just talking about Black Minority Ethnic organisation why, I ask you about this. But how would um, compare those organisations with a, with a, the main big government organisations who are also, um most of them designed to help people from different backgrounds?

TIM: There just a different type because um, here I could say that it’s slightly more specialised um and because it’s not so general and because of that the funding would tent to be smaller. You’re tent to be working with a smaller catchment area or smaller amount of people and so there’s maybe a bit more of a struggle in terms of financing in making these practical because although the ideas are all there, there all, there great and understood as being essential it’s then finding some financial backing to make sure you’ve got self sustainability, you’re not just relying on that funding but it’s a starting point and that’s key I think for any organisation that comes through the community as our does, that you have a plan for the first couple of years but during that period of time your working about self sustainability so that the process its self helps to finance um, what hopefully what would be an ongoing organisation, not just a 2 year, 3 year thing.

MAGDERLIN: Um, yes thank you. I’ve got another difficult question (laughter). This time about heritage err, can you describe what heritage means to you, what, what it is? (Laughter) I know hard (laughter).

TIM: Heritage, heritage to me is, is very much about (pause)

MAGDERLIN: (Laughter) Ok, they’ve gone (Laughter).

TIM: Ok.

MAGDERLIN: So you got a few, a few minutes to think as well (laughter).

TIM: Yes.

MAGDERLIN: Yeah, take your time; there is just a few more questions.

TIM: I think heritage to me in a practical sense is very much about capturing our history um, and that can be anything for an individual’s history in terms of their lifestyle, their background, their family background. Where they’re from, where they are now. Their movement around the world, their activity as an individual and part of a community and it’s that sense of a community and sharing stories and sharing a style of life, which is…

MAGDERLIN: I’m sorry…

TIM: Yeah.

MAGDERLIN: I think, I can still, I can still here them really loud, I don’t know why? I’m sorry, yeah I can hear you, it’s really loud. Sorry guys, for being, for that… its just 10 minutes. (Laughter) Please, 10 minutes ok, thank you. (Laughter) Nia’s so funny.

TIM: Um, let me try and carryon from my thread.

MAGDERLIN: So you said that it is good that they um, they feel um, the heritage because they feel this, this connection with the community, this sharing feeling. And I think that is when you finished?

TIM: Yes, I think that it is essential there’s a document, some prove some evidence of err, these engagements within the community. People from different background sharing um, err, similar experiences, sharing different experiences, um, therefore its a record of events that we can live and learn from how things that have gone before and how we hope things to go in the future, um.

MAGDERLIN: Very well said. Thank you so much. And um, can we, also tell me what you think about our heritage, how, how did your personal heritage influence your work in some ways and also your work for Ujima? (Laughter) This one of the hardest yes?

TIM: It’s a tough one.

MAGDERLIN: But I’m very curious about this (laughter).

TIM: I think when I was growing up my parents were very liberal and wanted me to experience different people, different communities around me. And I guess when I was growing up that was always the case in, in north of London we would visit families of different cultures, although in the time in the early eighties, um, things were slightly different then and there weren’t so many BME communities that there are today, but I think my parents were very keen for us to experience as much as possible. Be that through, meeting people, face to face, be that through the music that we listen to. And they had quite um, a wide selection of music from all around the world. And as, as a young person listening to that, you get a sense of curiosity and understanding from different cultures and different individuals um, so that’s always been a part of my life that I, I’m instinctively excited about other cultures and other ways of thinking and ways of being and I guess as I’ve grown up. Going through University, I guess, you have a wake up call as to the philosophies of life and how it effects and is engrained within culture. And so its nature to, once you’ve, you’ve come to the realisation that everyone is as one and there actually is no barriers between one person and the next then your life work is very about sharing what you know and learning and listening to what other people know. Err, so it seems quite natural from that background to want to do more and want to learn more about new cultures and to work with people of all cultures irrespective of their background, age, gender, religion and because we can all learn from one another. And part of our work here at Ujima is to express a certain part of a certain culture within Bristol, um, and that’s our job, um, that’s fundamentality our job. There’s many things that happen around and outside of that um, but in effect that’s what were doing and for me it seems a natural process to be here in the middle of Bristol 40 years after my birth in London. Um, doing what I do now.

MAGDERLIN: That’s really good what you said, I almost had tears in my eyes, I got so sensitive (laughter). Thank you. Maybe the last question, then. Err, what do you think is the future of Black Minority Ethnic Organisation in Southwest? If you could imagine the future of them or maybe what is the next step?

TIM: I guess the future would be that there would be no BME community organisations here in Bristol because it wouldn’t have to be an issue that there has to be a separate organisation and um, maybe that’s many years in the future. Were, were focusing here on small communities because they are, as time goes on those communities will be more ingrained, mixed with other communities and wont be minority anymore. Um, and therefore we will just have large organisations that deals with all size of pockets. And of course your have specialised areas within a large organisation to focus on certain things as we do today. But I guess my, my aim and my goal and my um, (Pause)…

MAGDERLIN: Nothing you want to do in life and your vision?

TIM: No, I think, lets start that again. My hope for my life in Bristol and elsewhere will be that there is no need for this kick-start for smaller communities um, because it’s a second thought. It should be natural that people don’t need to have an individual organisation to help them; there should be one that’s deals with all communities because they are one individual from a large community. I think that’s many years ahead so until then these communities need to survive and strengthen and grow so they do become part of the norm, part of these larger organisations. We have a true representation of the amount of BME communities within the Council within the large media companies within Bristol, um, within retail outlets and everyone else here so it, it is just the norm and its not something that’s is different and we need to even think about until then through Ujima we need to make sure were self sustainable that we continue um, and were welcoming. And I guess in 10 years time Ujima will be a, huge, a bigger mix or blend of cultures within Bristol or within the Southwest. As I said before Ujima brand could be huge and there could be Ujima radio stations all round the country, all round the world. Ujima’s media companies that cover everything from web design, video, from media training, working with the young people, working with the older communities, giving them a voice and reaching those individuals, those communities that as yet, don’t feel they have a voice. As yet, don’t feel they have an opportunity, or a point of contact to talk to the rest of their community.

MAGDERLIN: And of course, we wish Ujima that a bright future and I hopefully its going to happen but you said something about a norm that you wishes that, you know minorities they doesn’t have to change to be a norm. Maybe the norm have to be changed and then everyone would be included in that norm.

TIM: That, that’s is what should happen, yes. There’s, there’s a pressure and there needs to be more pressure on these larger corporations um, organisations like Councils and although things are in place that they have err, um, they have a legal remit as to how many people from BME communities are involved with their workforce etc… Again this should be a natural way of being, it shouldn’t have to be forced, there shouldn’t have to be these questions initially. And until we get to that point then there needs to be pressure from other individuals and other organisations and that’s where the communities roots groups help. Because they keep continue to put this pressures on larger organisations to make sure that it happens. As I say, hopefully that will happen as a nature turn of events and we progress as individuals and communities, um; it will make complete sense to everyone that is the way forward. And until then we need to keep nudging the pressure and reminding people that we all people sharing the same space and we’ve all got the same right to walk down the same streets, um the same day, the same time of year and have the same opportunities in front of us.

MAGDERLIN: That is great. Thank you so much for this interview. I think were gonna to stop it here, it was beautiful and I gonna just stop it now.



One Response to Tim Kirby (CEED) Interview

  1. Kudzie Chirenje says:

    I really enjoyed reading this interview Magderlin. Its good to catch up with news about how Ujima radio has gone and carried the vision it had when they started. I am really excited about whats next for Ujima, Bristol and surrounding areas regarding communities and equal opportunities. Great work Tim and a big cheer to the Team at Ujima. Regards Kudzie Australia.

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