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Bursting Back Into Orbit: reflecting on the return of Burst Radio

The student radio station has now been back on air for two terms, met with resounding successes and accolades.

By Benji ChapmanCo-Deputy Music Editor

Burst Radio is back. Bristol University's very own radio station, now in its 25th year of operation, opened the 2023/2024 academic year with a host of socials following fundraising efforts from the year prior. Revitalised with a broad new selection of hosts, committee members and accolades, Epigram takes a look at the station's success and its future endeavours.

During the end of the second term of the 2022/2023 academic year, hopes for the return of the long-standing tradition of Bristol's student radio station seemed unlikely.

Amid financial troubles and a stagnant GoFundMe, it seemed that the station might be coming to a permanent close when the academic year came to an end. 

Despite steep challenges the Burst team faced, a new committee was recruited after the summer break. Inspired by efforts from the previous year, a fresh team led by returning Station Manager Flora Guildford, was quick to build on past endeavours with a ferociously dedicated enthusiasm that took the station back online.

The team set about bringing the station back for good with fundraising efforts during term 1 of 2023's academic year: Den and Terrace karaoke socials, pub golf, and various socials for show hosts across various locations. Now on air and with months of vibrant activity behind it, the station is stronger than ever.

Speaking to Epigram, Flora confirmed that the station is now in a financial surplus and moreover intends on maintaining a sustainable stockpile of funds to address potentially costly technical difficulties which previously crippled the station, accumulated thanks to persistent socials and fundraising events.

As socials continue to be planned, the team prove that they are yet to stop innovating in their efforts. The radio's most recent social took a turn to the outer-planetary, with excitement brewing for a 'Bursting Back Into Orbit' event when posters were spotted on Bristol's streets complete with vibrant low-poly rendered designs, created by Burst's Operational Manager Katie Wood.

Bursting Back Into Orbit @ The Crown | Katie Riley

The triple bill DJ night at The Crown featured contributions from University of Bristol students, including fellow student radio founder Luke Prenelle. The sold-out event was a proven success not only in its sales but also in the countless triumphant smiles of hosts, committee members, and stragglers who took to a fully booked venue, complete with upgraded sound system and theme appropriate space helmets.

Burst radio has reached to the stars and risen to them in an explosive launch that now symbolises a point of reflection for the committee's efforts. The station has appropriately been recognised nationally, with nominations for the upcoming Student Radio Amplify Awards in the Most Improved and Most Resilient station shortlists.

The accolades arrive alongside individual recognition for Katie who has also been shortlisted for Most Committed Committee Member and Best Contribution to the Region for her efforts in bringing back the station, contributing personal funds towards socials to go above and beyond standards for a society committee member.

Bursting Back Into Orbit @ The Crown | Katie Riley

If you need more than the noted efforts of the committee to convince you of Burst's strengthening, over 85 show hosts who offer an eclectic spread of listening opportunities may do the trick. From Afro Caribbean Society's slot, which provides an extension of the society's in-person activities, to location and experience focussed audio collages narrated by Second Year English and Philosophy student Bruno Bridger in his show 'Five Leaves Left'.

Countless topics of listening are on offer. Second Year English student Molly Lawton's show, 'Heaven Knows I'm Listening Now', brings a newly themed playlist each week, a curated playlist by the page's Instagram followers, while 'Harmonies and Headaches' takes the focus away from music to a more discussion-based approach that refreshingly tackles topics and submitted stories of interest for university students.

Tuning into Burst takes a lucky dip into a tantalisingly sweet spread of shows that exemplify Bristol University's student interests and leads listeners into new cultural avenues, points of discussion and in-person events.

Burst's Studio in the Richmond Building | Flora Guildford

Burst's aim to 'become a loud, vibrant, and inclusive society' has evidently been accomplished. Its socials, shows, and accolades all mirror the tireless efforts of all committee and society members who have supported Bristol University's rich cultural legacy on the airwaves.

Looking to the future, the team hope to begin covering live music across Bristol at its various festivals and concert halls- before Katie, Flora, Social Media Manager Lily Busher, and Head of Sports Nathan Cowley travel up to Leeds for the Amplify Awards. Whether the team returns with trophies or empty-handed, the tireless work of everyone involved in Burst's revival should be acknowledged. 

Featured Image: Katie Riley

What is your favourite Burst Radio slot?