The Big Issue has begun a partnership with Boogaloo Radio in London enabling Big Issue vendors to take to the airwaves.
Boogaloo, based in Highgate, is a 24-hr online radio station transmitting worldwide that has been running since 2018. ‘The Big Issue Takeover’ show features a different vendor every week playing and talking about their favourite music from 10am to 12pm every Tuesday. The show is broadcast live from the former bin shed, in the beer garden of the The Boogaloo Pub.
Matt Campbell, who sells the magazine outside the Tesco on Kennington Lane, kicked off with the first show of the year just yesterday. He told The Big Issue: “I loved it, it made me feel like I was someone”. Matt’s soul and funk playlist included the likes of George Benson, Stevie Wonder and Lionel Ritchie. He also told the Big Issue: “I love radio because it doesn’t cost anything. I spent the whole day before my show listening to radio stations at home and it felt like I was spending the day with other people”.
As well as educating listeners about The Big Issue it also creates opportunities for The Big Issue Foundation service brokers to spend time with the vendors, putting together playlists and discussing any subjects they may like to mention on air.
Norma Jean Taylor, 63, who began selling the Big Issue more than 10 years ago, played her first radio set at the Boogaloo last month.
She said: “Without music you can’t develop life. It’s a big part in life – music and songs. The playlist can help clear your mind and keep you going. “When I came in today I was more lively than usual. I enjoy it very much. I would love to have another go soon.”
Norma sells the Big Issue in Waterloo.
“I love London,” she added. “Lots of people recognise me and lots of people come up to me and talk to me. I sing to them sometimes, too.”
Jennifer Crothers, who set up the radio station, said:
“Everyone loves music and I didn’t want inviting Big Issue vendors on air to be a charity case,” she said.
“I wanted to show that someone living on the streets would still have a great taste in music.
“We’re like a family here at Boogaloo and music has really helped some of our presenters in their lives and they are on the other end of the spectrum from what Big Issue vendors are facing. Doing music is special to everyone.”
Each newcomer gets hands-on training on how to use the studio before setting off on their set.
Dave Martin, who sells the magazine outside Tesco on Barb Mews, Hammersmith, became the second vendor to broadcast to the world.
And he insisted that his small taste of radio presenting has inspired him to return to the mic at the first opportunity.
“Seeing as though it was my first time on the radio, I thought it was brilliant,” Dave told The Big Issue. “You just end up wanting to do more basically. I’m keen to put my second playlist out there.
Spending time putting together a radio show is a great opportunity to form trust with these vendors. It is a chance for them to talk about their aspirations and needs. Several of the vendors who have already been featured expressed that the experience was beneficial, and as one vendor put it – ‘It made me feel like someone’.
We hope that partnership will continue to assist in our work, providing vendors with new ways to communicate with us and the communities they live in.