BBC launches first radio show for Gypsies

BBC Three Counties Radio is launching a weekly programme produced by, and for, British Gypsies.

Rokker Radio (which means Talk Radio in Romany language) will be presented by Jake Bowers every Sunday evening from 9 April. Bowers is one of Britain’s only Romany journalists and is a regular contributor to The Guardian and BBC Radio 4.

The weekly show will focus on issues affecting the travelling community. The station hopes that by reporting their stories, some of the myths about Gypsies and Travellers will be dispelled.

Bowers said: "The media largely demonise our community. There are big exceptions to the rule, but you only need to look at a week of headlines in the local press, and sometimes in the tabloids, and you’d see that the language used to report travellers would not be tolerated by any other ethnic minority community.

"I don’t think all journalists are wilfully ignorant, but there needs to be a re-education of those who report stories involving Travellers, producing work that can only be described as propaganda for local councils and settled communities."

He added: "The programme will make the most of the lack of balanced reporting of Travellers and report thousands of untold stories.

"I think it will be the first time since the 1930s that the BBC has broadcast programming that’s actually produced by a rural ethnic minority."

BBC Three Counties Radio can be heard on FM frequencies in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire, on medium wave across southern England and online at www.bbc.co.uk/threecounties .

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