Britdock Radio – 88.1 or 89 FM

Team Britdock
PC, MG and The Ref

For five years now, I’ve been co-presenting an English-speaking programme, Britdock, on a local radio station called Antenne d’Oc. The show goes out live every Thursday afternoon from 4 till 7 p.m. and is re-broadcast on Sunday evenings between 8 and 11 p.m. If you’ve never heard the programme or you are unaware of Antenne d’Oc’s existence, you can pick us up on 88.1 or 89 FM in Cahors and surrounding areas, and around 100 FM elsewhere in the Lot, in towns like Souillac, St.Céré and Fumel.

I’m known as MG, and my fellow presenters are Rochester, The Ref, PC and on occasions Monsieur Black Cat. We talk about everything under the sun, and try to keep the conversation light, interspersing what’s on and what’s happened in the local area with a few well-chosen jokes and humorous comments; the jokes are Rochester’s department. Three hours of non-stop chat would not go down well with even the most fervent English speaker, so we play lots of music of all kinds to keep our listeners, including we hope French residents, happy and attentive.

In October 2001, coincidentally one month after 9.11, I asked the Antenne d’Oc sound engineer recently installed in Cahors if an English-speaking programme might be considered as an option. “Pourquoi pas?” he said, so my son OG and I began our one-hour slot rather tentatively, and began to build up a certain following. A year later, I teamed up with an English friend, who I met through giving French lessons, Uncle Cuffer to the listeners, and he brought much wit and British-style humour to Britdock, giving the programme a definite style and dare I say, a certain professionalism. We started to invite guests, musical or otherwise, onto the show, which was kindly extended to a two hour slot, and became a live show, adding a spontaneity which had been hitherto missing. And so almost 200 programmes in, Britdock is still going strong, with current regular spots, including the Birthday spot and the Continental Hotspot, introduced by Chrissie, and special moments, such as the Country spot, Kitsch Corner, the Humper, the Rock’n’Roll spot and the Classical spot no longer with us, having served their time.

If, having lived here for some time, you’re now wondering why you’ve never heard of Antenne d’Oc, it would probably be because the station is not publicised in any shape or form. It’s an associative “free” radio, run by two associations governing the two studios, the main transmitter being at Les Alimons, near the village of Le Boulvé, and the subsidiary station to be found along the river Lot in Cahors. Antenne d’Oc is “free” in the sense that it has no financial obligations and receives state subsidies which largely derive from a tax that commercial radio and television stations pay.

There are 400 of these associative radios in France, each one doing its own thing, with no danger as far as I know of any form of censorship. Indeed they are in a privileged position which has existed for a number of years but which will unfortunately change in 2006 when the government plans to cut their subsidies, with a resulting drastic reduction in operational liberty, including enforced loss of personnel. Antenne d’Oc employs at least five journalists full-time, whose job it is to create programmes, interview people and assure music programming. The radio is not allowed to carry advertising which means that there are long periods of non-stop music encompassing every known style. It makes a refreshing change from mainstream commercial radio, the only problem being that as there is no presenter for most of the time, so you don’t know what you’re hearing, unless you phone the studio and find someone to inform you.

Antenne d’Oc does news bulletins at 1 p.m. and 7p.m. and is known to be “engagé”, meaning that the people who work there are definitely left of centre and are free to express their views openly through the programmes they do. The station covers all local events in depth, including the local festivals, such as the Cahors Blues Festival, les Visages Francophones in Cahors, Africajarc in Cajarc, and the Chainon Manquant in Figeac, amongst others.

The French free radios are a particular phenomenon which has no equivalent in the UK, apart from the pirate radio ships in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Radio London and Caroline et al, which were both commercial and illegal, so the comparison stops there. In any event, if you haven’t already done so, try and give Antenne d’Oc a listen, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, and don’t forget Thursdays at 4 p.m. when Britdock takes to the airwaves. See you then!

If you would like more information on the station or the programme, Britdock can be contacted by email, [email protected]

&copyMike Gardiner 2005

In addition to broadcasting, Mike also offers French lessons (teaching French at all levels, either one-to-one or in small groups), translations, technical or otherwise, from French to English, or English to French, and can act as an interpreter for medical visits and consultations, bank appointments, garage rendez-vous, etc. Mike can be contacted at: [email protected] or by phone on: 05 65 35 14 68

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