ON air, Yoko Jones and Agatha Kabera are bantering about coping strategies for the Scottish winter. Call your family, they suggest, go for a run, visit the Highlands, write a novel, they joke – because winter lasts eight months here.

“Be a bear,” Jones says. “Don’t diet, just eat, eat, eat.”

The pair joke about the weather complaints they’ve heard from people who have moved here from England. “Why did you move?” they quip, “Scotland is for the brave.”

The duo are part of Jambo! Radio, the 18-month old station that broadcasts content by, for and about Scotland’s African and Caribbean communities 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

It’s the brainchild of George Tah (below), who swapped a role with a pan-African broadcaster in London to set up his own outfit in Paisley. Gospel, new music, political debates, Covid guidance, talk shows – Jambo does it all, and does it in several languages.

The National: George Tah of Jambo Radio broadcasting for African communities from Glasgow. STY..Pic Gordon Terris Herald & Times..7/1/22.

The station’s name means “hello” in Swahili and means “to come together” in the Caribbean. Tah, from Cameroon, also enjoys the built-in music pun (“jam”) and he says, it’s an “exciting” word.

Tah’s incredibly excited about Jambo’s potential, despite operating in a crowded, multi-platform media landscape that remains dominated by big players like the BBC. Tah, who spent a year working for the BBC World Service, says there’s plenty of space for his start-up because there’s nothing else like it in Scotland. "Irrespective of how many platforms there are, the question has been “is there a platform for us?”

“You can have all different outlets but there is nothing for African and Caribbean communities in mainstream media. How many of us are going on BBC talk shows? People from these communities aren’t being invited onto debates, they’re not getting to contribute to the conversation. That’s what we do.

“There’s media everywhere – people can pick up their phones and do a live podcast on Facebook, but increasingly people are aware of those platforms that don’t have an authentic voice and content that’s believable,” he goes on. “Jambo! Radio is completely authentic. We use multiple languages, we communicate with people in the languages they understand best. When we’re covering Scottish Government Covid guidance in Yoruba, French or Igbo, listeners know they’re getting the facts, they’re getting the voice of authority and they’re getting it from a community voice that is authentic.”

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Tah’s focus is as much on empowerment and advice as it is on entertainment. He’s proud to discuss the five adults and five young people who’ve come in to train-up after education and reskill after debilitating periods during which they’ve not had the right to work. He feels the same about the part-time posts he’s been able to give young graduates who, despite acing their university studies, had somehow been unable to translate that into employment success.

Tah is also proud of the “lifeline” the station’s provided during the pandemic. As well as explaining rule-changes and the facts about vaccines, it’s been a platform for those from African and Caribbeans working on Scotland’s front lines. The Covid knowledge gap was a key motivator in driving the transformation of what was once a podcast into a fully fledged station.

“Many people in our communities have been doing these jobs,” Tah says. "We’ve highlighted that, they’ve contributed to our programmes. The most important thing is they can share their experiences in English and in other languages. It makes their stories well-understood.”

In the 2011 census, more than 36,000 people identified as African, Caribbean or Black.

That’s more than 1% of the population, but after a decade of change Tah says the number’s a gross understatement of community numbers. Most of this population was concentrated in Glasgow, with sizeable pockets in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee, but Tah says he’s set up in Renfrewshire partly in response to a demographic shift that’s seen more African and Caribbean Scots move out of the nearby city and into Paisley and its surrounds.

He himself lives in Renfrew with wife Solange Tung, a volunteer scheduler who also contributes to on-air content from time to time, and he’s plotting the station’s growth. Around 3000 tune in via the website every month and a mobile app launched in August brings in another 300-500 at a time. “We are expanding our audience,” he tells the Sunday National.

“We’re looking at going on DAB radio in Glasgow, which would reach a massive part of our community.

“We have positioned ourselves as a national organisation. We came where the community was growing because that’s what we want to do ourselves.”