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Podcast Witness

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  • The first black music station in Europe
    In 1981, Rita Marley’s brother Leroy Anderson aka Lepke launched the Dread Broadcasting Corporation (DBC), Europe’s first dedicated black music station. Frustrated by the lack of airtime for reggae music in the UK, Lepke setup a mast in his back garden and began to broadcast to a small area of West London every Sunday afternoon. DBC soon expanded to cover all styles of black music and with its unmistakable logo featuring a dread with headphones and a spliff became a trailblazer for the future of black British radio in the UK. Neil Meads speaks to former DBC station manager Michael Williams about the early days of the station, and DJ Carmella Jervier explains how inspiring it was to finally hear black female DJs on the radio. (Photo: Dread Broadcasting Corporation. Credit: BBC)
  • The assassination of Burundian President Melchior Ndadaye
    In July 1993, Melchior Ndadaye became Burundi’s first democratically elected president. He was also the first president to come from the country’s Hutu majority. For decades up to that point, Burundi had been ruled by a small group of individuals drawn from the among the Tutsi minority. President Ndadaye had come to power promising a new vision for Burundi. But within months he was murdered by soldiers. Rob Walker hears from Jean-Marie Ngendahayo who was Minister of Communications in President Ndadaye’s government. (Photo: A relative of Melchior Ndadaye holding a photo of him at his funeral. Credit: Getty Images)
  • Columbia space shuttle disaster
    The US space shuttle Columbia broke up on its way back to Earth on 1 February 2003. It had been in use since 1981. Iain Mackness spoke to Admiral Hal Gehman who was given the job of finding out what went wrong. The admiral’s report led to the ending of the American space shuttle programme in 2011. A Made in Manchester production for BBC World Service first broadcast in 2019. (Photo: Space shuttle Columbia. Credit: Getty Images)
  • Czechoslovakia's 'Velvet Divorce'
    30 years ago this month, Czechoslovakia split into the separate states of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It was a rare instance of a state separating without a single life being lost. Thanks to this it became known as the ‘Velvet Divorce’. Rather than putting it to a vote, the country and its assets were divided behind closed doors by the Czech and Slovak leaders, Václav Klaus and Vladimír Mečiar, who became the Prime Ministers of their newly independent states. Ben Henderson speaks to both of them about their memories from the time. (Photo: Václav Klaus and Vladimír Mečiar negotiate the split. Credit: Zehl Igor/ČTK)
  • Palestine Post bombing
    Mordechai Chertoff was the foreign editor on the Palestine Post (precursor to the Jerusalem Post) when it was bombed on 1 February 1948. He tells Lucy Williamson how, despite the attack, the newspaper still came out the next morning. This programme was first broadcast in 2010. (Photo: Palestine Post bombing. Credit: Getty Images)

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