Community Voice Fm: By Middlesbrough’s Own Tommy Dunn.

Community Voice FM: Local Choice, Global Voice

I wonder how many people have ever considered pursuing a career in radio production and media broadcasting? I wonder how many people actually ever considered to be trained up into a media maniac, so that they can go and work in one of the most thrilling career industries to ever exist? When I left Newlands School F.C.J, now named Trinity Catholic College, I hoped to become a police officer and enrolled on a BTEC Level 3 Public Services course. However it was when I met a radio presenter in Ireland that made me think otherwise. Having previously done online radio broadcasting before on a Friday night with terrible organisation skills and a lack of knowledge into production when I should have been revising for my Year 10 Science test, I considered possibly doing radio presenting as a part time ‘hobby’. It was when I was pointed in the right direction to locate a small property in my local town, Middlesbrough, that I discovered a wonderful place full of opportunities, skills and futures.
Community Voice FM; for the community, by the community. It’s true to it’s word. This station depends on a stable, reliable and dedicated team of passionate and enthusiastic volunteers with a high vision for success. It also depends on a small team of skilled, hard working and passionate staff members who could build a positive relationship with the station and it’s volunteers. Also, don’t forget the Director’s Board, who founded the station, and could build a positive relationship with the community. Anyone who could be a part of either of these teams would be deemed ‘proud people’ in my eyes. This marvelous station is one of it’s kind, since before it was set up in late 2009, no community stations in Middlesbrough actually ever existed. So until that time you wouldn’t of been able to really consider pursuing that type of career in this industrial town. The station’s mission was and is to reach out to the communities within Middlesbrough, in the hope of unleashing and releasing their vibrant, creative and colorful talents of all kinds! Whether you want to broadcast, write articles, produce, do photography, film or simply become equipped with media knowledge and skills… Community Voice FM is the place. The station welcomes anyone with any background or culture. A lot of our volunteers are of different ethnicities and have different tastes in interests and music. The team is full of mixed members of the community, all bringing something to the table. There is the Late Night Rock Show, The Geek Show, Double Take Movie Show, Match Monday & Football Friday, Bollywood Zone Show and my show… The HipHop & R’n'B Show, with plenty of other shows too. The station forms communities together by building friendly relationships, promoting equality & diversity, and showing different cultural understandings.
This station runs some brilliant and successful projects, through their connections with community organisations such as B.M.E, and our Middlesbrough Council. I myself worked on the ‘We Are Golden’ project with Idrees Rashid (a member on the Director’s Board), a project set up for young people, opening a gateway into the world of media. The project was a great success! One of it’s most valuable members, who was filled with intelligence and knowledge, known as Junaid Iqbal has recently gone on to open his own online media broadcasting channel known as ‘UpScale Productions’, which I have heard is doing very well. Other recent projects include ‘Golden Voices’, directed and coordinated by Sheila Anderson (another brilliant Community Voice FM staff member) which has and is currently providing opportunities for senior citizens of the community. Giving them that little bit of help to get their voice onto the 104.5FM airwaves, and gearing them up with today’s latest media technology skills. This is a project that easily demonstrates the passion for equality & diversity in the community. Also there is the ‘Media Routz’ project that is really at the heart of what we do, and is responsible for what we all learn. It provides FREE training in the world of radio production. It teaches people how to use the internet and basic computer skills, and there are even CV Workshops and help with job searching.
When I was 16 year’s old, I had tried locating this station, and when walking home from Middlesbrough College one day, I discovered it at 83 Borough Road. I took a glance and really tried to imagine myself behind a microphone. The idea of a career in it at the time didn’t really appeal to me, but to do it locally for free as a hobby was definitely appealing. A few days later I went to the station, but unfortunately the station manager wasn’t there. I came back yet again a few days later with a basic plan and a structure for my show, having remembered what Tim Norton, the Irish radio presenter, told me a few months before in the summer of 2010. They were really interested in what I had to say, and by the looks of the station manager, they seemed quite shocked that someone of my age would be interested. I told them my passion and love for HipHop & R’n'B music, especially local talent. They arranged for me to come back and discuss in more depth about my show’s plot, and I didn’t hesitate to come back. That evening I got home and told my mother, she literally didn’t believe me. When I went back, the station manager had me design a basic show for my first show, obviously this was a draft though. He was very impressed with my structure and my organisational skills. He then gave me some application forms to fill out and a booklet with guidelines. We decided that my first show was going to be broadcasted on the 6th January at 10.30pm. It was going to be pre-recorded until I was skilled enough to do a LIVE show. I was so excited, and my mother then decided to believe me, with a lot of shock of course. Then I went and sat in with the Soul Sessions Show with DJ Trev on a Thursday evening during his LIVE slot. I had a chance to speak on the microphone and I was honestly terrified.
When it came to first producing my first show, it was terrible because I had no idea what I was doing, and I seemed to waste a good 2 hours of my guest’s time. However, I managed to pre-record it again, and it was ready for the 6th January. I got my friends and family to listen that night and they seemed to love it, someone posted it on Facebook too, and I didn’t hope to get the attention because everything I ever done was just laughed at. But I couldn’t avoid hiding it and now I’m glad people did find out, because all I have ever had is positive feedback. I decided to give this hobby a real go, and with full speed ahead I took every opportunity I could. I sneaked in to Professor Green’s gig at the Empire in February, just a month later, without any real permission, just blagging and acting as if I had a right to be there, and next thing you know I am sat with him talking and he even puts me and my friend on the guest list. I jumped the queue, taking pleasure in seeing all those who did doubt me stood in the rain shouting to me if I had met him. I had a brilliant night all in all. A few weeks later, I was launching my youth scheme known as ‘Believe & Achieve’ at the Town Hall Civic Centre with Mayor Ray Mallon. My family didn’t think that my ideas about how we could tackle anti-social behaviour and youth crime through media and music would actually appeal to him, but he seemed very impressed and he was keen to work with me. Since then me and the Mayor have maintained a positive professional relationship and I feel that I can bring ideas, concerns and issues straight to him.
Eventually my show went LIVE, I started a fan page, I was bringing in acts, I started a website and I was getting emails from loads of musicians from all over the country. I started to build a name for myself and I began to discover a different path in a different career industry. I was building foundations. I went on to meet the likes of Chipmunk, and I became very close to the community and the work within it. Towards the end of the summer I was then nominated as a Young Achiever by the council, and Claire Wordsworth asked me to send in a quote about why I think Middlesbrough should be a city for the Middlesbrough City Status Bid 2012, and of course I did. A few weeks later when I was on holiday, Claire contacted me through Facebook informing me that my quote has been selected to be on a poster that was going to be at the train station in Middlesbrough in the underpass. Claire wanted to organise a photo shoot for the poster, and obviously I agreed. I was then nominated for the CVFM Star Award at the Middlesbrough Volunteering Star Awards of 2011. I was in fact nominated with other volunteers from Community Voice FM by one of the Director’s, Idrees Rashid. I was then shortlisted to the final two in my category in September 2011, and a group of Teesside University media students wanted to film a short documentary on me to promote the awards. It was then the poster launch for the Middlesbrough City Status Bid 2012, and I was interviewed by the BBC Tees about my quote. It was an amazing day and the campaign was something I was proud to be a part of, I was very passionate about Middlesbrough. When it came to November 2011, after my tickets arrived and I had seen who I was up against, TeesFast FM, I honestly began to feel that I wasn’t going to win. But the simple fact that I had got that far was enough, and when my name was called out I was gob smacked that I had won.
Plenty more opportunities arose and the good fortune just never stops coming. It is amazing to think that so much can occur from entering a little community station in your local area? But it’s true. Community Voice FM trained me up to be something I never thought I could be, and through everything I have done I was always doubted by those around me. I was the only one, apart from my mother, who had any real faith in myself, and even that was little. However it has come to mid 2012 and I have achieved so much, and I have proved everyone wrong, all thanks to Community Voice FM. Unfortunately, on the 9th May at 6pm my HipHop & R’n'B Show will broadcast for the very last time, as I have decided to concentrate my energies on the final few weeks of college. I felt like it was my time to move on from the show. I am still currently presenting my new Tuesday morning breakfast show called Time For TJ, from 9am till 11am, and I am enjoying it so much. I have built my foundations with the high support and faith from this station, and the staff, the Directors and the volunteers are practically my family. I am going on to hopefully pursue a career in presenting and media production, and I have already signed a contract in a new line of presenting. Hopefully it will be the start of a fruitful career, but I will always be a part of Community Voice FM. The opportunities are endless. Please don’t hesistate to contact the station with any ideas for shows, or any interests in becoming a part of the team, because they will welcome you with open arms. It changed my life and it could change yours.

Check the station out on 104.5FM in the Middlesbrough area, or tune in on:

Here is a video link for what we do:

A big thanks to Tommy Dunn for his personal account of life at Community Voice FM. We here at the Northern Line wish him every success in the future.

By peter on May 17, 2012

Check out all the pics

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