Last month saw the first edition of Talking Men, a six-part radio series on Cambridge 105, that’s specifically devoted to tackling issues that affect men and boys.
It’s one of a growing number of local and national radio shows generating exciting new conversations about what it means to be a man in the UK today -- from PonderLab in Manchester, also launched in March, to The Naked Man Show in Frome and the BBC’s nationally broadcast Men’s Hour.
All three follow in the footsteps of Men’s Matters in Portsmouth, presented by James Williams, which although no longer on air, broke new ground in addressing a wide range of hard-hitting issues, such male victims of domestic violence, suicide, and fathers’ post-separation relationships with their children.
Cambridge 105’s Talking Men is the brainchild of local radio presenter, Matt Webb – who himself has suffered from depression and who has dedicated air time to men’s issues in the past, including special programmes around men’s mental health and International Men’s Day.
This new dedicated programme -- which airs monthly on Wednesdays at 14:30 as part of Matt’s Afternoon show -- aims to dig deep into some of the issues affecting men and boys in society, with a specific emphasis on Cambridge men.
As part of the new series, Matt is joined every month by Nigel Beaumont, a trained counsellor who will be exploring different therapies for men suffering from mental health problems.
There’s also a monthly wrap up of all the men’s issues and men’s health news in the aptly named ‘Men’s Bits’.
Stepping out of the shadows
Matt told insideMAN about what inspired him to launch a male-focused radio show.
“Presenting a men’s issues show or feature is often met with mixed views. On the one hand you can sit back and not produce a show and people will say ‘why isn’t there a men’s show, you have a women’s show’. On the other hand you can step out of the shadows and produce a programme targeting specific issues and topics affecting men and you’re frowned upon.
“I feel fortunate that the radio station I’m head of production for; we’re open-minded about producing a broad range of programmes, appealing to all members of society.
“At Cambridge 105, we’re always looking to produce programmes for underserved members of the community – and explore issues which are often overlooked by mainstream media outlets. In the case of men’s issues, it seemed to me like a great topic to explore and when the opportunity to produce a series came up, I was glad to take it. I have personal experience of mental health, having battled with depression myself for several years.
'If the response is good, I'd like to air all year round'
“There are so many topics that affect men across Cambridge and the UK. You only have to look at the massive rates of suicide in men under 45; boy’s lagging attainment in schools, the increase in male victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, the rise in men who are homeless and issues surrounding paternity leave and pay. I’ve only mentioned a handful of issues here, but there are many more that need exploring.
“We hope to discuss as many issues as we can over this six-month Talking Men series and if the response rate is good from listeners, I would certainly look at making the feature into a regular spot all year round.
“Our series compliments the station’s newly launched ‘Cambridge Women’ programme which also airs monthly. Both myself and the presenter of the women’s show, Kay Blayney, are keen for both shows to support one another and cross promote issues and topics where possible. There’s even a special joint show on the cards for International Men’s Day on 19 November.
“If you have any men’s features you’d like to discuss or perhaps you’d like to appear as a guest – please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.”
You can listen back to the first edition of Talking Men here
Photo credit: Museokeskus Vapriikki