Christian radio was made legal some years ago
now. There's Premier, based in London, which is a little
more speech-based; and there are some smaller Christian stations
around the country. United Christian Broadcasters (UCB's)
distinctive emphasis is on music at national level.
There are three flavours: UCB Inspirational
(worship-music style), UCB Gospel, and UCB UK, which is more
contemporary, like Radio 1, with more speech, and the best
Christian music. America has a vast array, and we feature that,
complementing that with Christian music from around the UK.
Classical music and hymn-singing is in the mix, but more on UCB
Inspirational, which is perhaps a little bit more like Radio 2.
UCB UK is on DAB and online, and there is Christian
television programming on UCB TV. UCB Inspirational and UCB Gospel
can be heard online. All three stations are available via the UCB
The key UBC UK programme is in the morning, from nine
till 12, with five or six topical issues covered by a presenter and
studio guests, and listeners phoning in. The news agenda is
highlighted because there's a strong sense that everyone needs to
know what's going on in the world. Christians have an opportunity
to pause and pray, and we're keen to provide the information for
this. Occasionally this happens on air - a presenter may pause and
pray for a moment - which is refreshing.
Our funding comes from people mainly in UK, and abroad as
well, who are very generous with their time and money. There's no
advertising or sponsorship.
My new role as head of radio development combines
ensuring the radio output is distinctive, popular, and unmissable,
and relating to key supporters of UCB who've captured the
I've literally just arrived; so I'm splitting my time
between both things: on the editorial side, looking at subjects
covered, choice of music, the way things are presented. On
fund-raising, we come alongside our supporters personally, get to
know them, and invite them for tour days in Stoke-on-Trent.
There is a real demand for high-quality Christian radio that is
entertaining, edifying, and engaging. I'll be working with
the UCB team to take the music-based stations to the next level of
excellence to make them accessible for everyone. Hourly news
bulletins come through an agreement with Sky, complemented by
Christian news from UK and abroad.
We don't tend to broadcast church services, but we invite
speakers and preachers from the UK and USA, who contribute short
talks, some of which would be Bible-based, like Word for
Today. That's our free quarterly devotional publication.
Word for Today is a partnership with Bob Gass and his
family. Bob started these 25 years ago, and offered them
as a way to support the early UCB. Now they're so successful, we
send them free to thousands of people who find them helpful and
pertinent and of the moment. They come in direct mail, or churches
distribute them. Copies go into prisons. Many countries around the
world translate them into their language. I believe that God is in
them. They invariably relate to an experience you're having - as if
they've been written for you in that particular moment.
Good broadcasting makes you think, opens your eyes,
changes your attitude and even your behaviour. It makes you want to
tell someone else about it. For me, it could be a line from a song,
a story shared, a balanced discussion, or a Bible-inspired home
I started in radio, because "the pictures are always better on the
radio." I have a passion for radio: I listen to lots,
dipping around a bit. It's grown so much since I began my own
career. I typed my first application on a typewriter to all the
local radio stations - about 50 of them. There are three or four
Of course I listen to UCB: I'm personally interested in
Christian music. Sometimes, the way the lyricist has phrased
something makes me think about something I've read or heard in a
The mathematics of music fascinates me. How can such a
few notes create such an enormous range of sounds? And continually
create and re-create?
I'm not a musician. I don't sing very well, but I do love
music. I once tried to learn to play the trombone, but had to
practise outdoors, and people didn't like it. I played the piano up
to Grade 5 as a child.
For 16 years, I worked at BBC Radio Humberside, as a
presenter and producer. Most recently, I was the executive producer
for BBC Songs of Praise and television worship. It was a
huge privilege to work with the exceptional team, and it enabled me
to meet so many people who were big fans and never miss it.
Songs of Praise is greatly valued by people.
Ordinary people with a Christian faith are able to tell their story
and encourage viewers to appreciate that the world isn't that bad
after all. It's a Sunday tea-time pick-me-up when you are about to
face a new week. Everyone has heard of it, and has a point of view
about it. The bouquets always outweighed the brickbats.
I enjoy television: most documentaries, all sorts of
music, gardening, quizzes, discussions, drama, of course. People
assumed I'd want to work in television, but I didn't want to. I
imagined you'd be a smaller cog in a bigger machine. I always
valued the immediacy of radio, contact with listeners, creating an
interview so quickly. . . But an opportunity arose to work in
television; so I bit the bullet. You are indeed a smaller cog, but
if everybody works together and uses their skills effectively,
together you produce something worth watching.
Radio listening is stronger than ever, and audiences for
religious programmes, such as Sunday breakfast shows on local
stations, often outstrip the weekday equivalent. I don't have the
figures, but the weekday breakfast show is seen as the flagship,
and it's assumed that weekends elicit less interest, but actually
the Saturday Today programme is more popular. Perhaps
people have more time at weekends to listen?
I grew up in Somerset, and now live in the north-west,
with my grown-up family not a million miles away.
My first experience of God was a deep-seated assurance that all
would be well, like a child being embraced by a loving
father. I've seen time and time again that God, as in that story in
the Bible about the Prodigal Son, is like the father waiting with
his arms outstretched, ready to welcome home the child who thinks
they know best.
Capturing how others articulate their philosophy of life
as I work with them in broadcasting constantly helps me to clarify
my own beliefs.
I like travelling to new destinations. It makes me take
lots of photographs. I just find that, when I have the privilege of
travelling, the wow-factor kicks in, and makes me think what a
wonderful world we live in. I photograph landscapes. Perhaps in
life we don't often stop and pause and wonder enough at the world
in all its beauty.
My bucket list keeps getting longer, but just five
minutes on the International Space Station, gazing back to earth,
would be incredible. I'm happiest when I'm watching a beautiful
I love the sound of a bumble bee collecting nectar.
Summer has arrived!
Getting flashed by a speed camera made me angry last.
My parents, my wife, my children, my friends, my
colleagues, and Jesus have all influenced me in my life - but not
in that order.
I pray that people would come to see that God is on their
If I found myself locked in a church, a conversation with
King Solomon ought to keep me occupied.
David Taviner was talking to Terence Handley MacMath.