Here Loughborough University student and life-long Bantams fans Sophie Cunliffe puts a few questions to Dom & Tom as part of her latest dissertation.
How long have you been supporting Bradford City and why?
Dom - My uncle would tell you that I’ve supported City since the day I was born. He draped a City shirt (that I still own) over me, like to Greek God initiation ceremony. But really, I only count having first crossed the threshold at VP as my first day as a supporter, 1995, Vs. a team in white, I think it was Preston.
Tom - Since I was about 28, last year when they reached Wembley - I'm a glory supporter. I was in fact actually about 5, we played Grimsby and we won...I think.
How has media coverage changed since you first started following Bradford City?
Dom – When I was a boy I used to keep a scrap book of all the T&A back pages that contained articles about City, and that’s all there really was in the media about us. Coming into the turn of the century, when we were promoted to the Premier League we were focused on, but it was only temporary. Nowadays, thanks to the internet and social media you’re never far a way from news, rumours, and stats. Last season was something else though. We became the centre of the football universe as a club and it was spectacular.
Tom - Like Dom I used to pretty much worship the T&A. It barely get's a look in now (joke Simon, calm down)! Collecting cuttings was all you can do, now you have the online BCAFC universe at your finger tips from pretty much anyway. Many an hour I spend refreshing my twitter on my phone whilst sat on the John.
When did you begin Bantams Banter and why?
Dom - Tom and I both had a desire to work in radio, and still do. We used to do a podcast called the Tom & Dom Show, but it had no real direction, we wanted to narrow down the content and aim it at an already present audience, so we bashed heads. We already had a 5 minute section of our show called ‘Bantams Banter’ so as Bradford City fans, the natural thing to do was to do a full show about the Bantams, but to add our own style to it, it’s worked out well so far.
Tom - As above really, Dom has summarised about 2 years into 4 lines - well done! Nobody would take a gamble on two amateurs like us on the airwaves, so we decided to venture on our own.
What were and are your aims for the podcast?
Dom - At the time of our first episode Bradford City were in what we like the call ‘the great depression’. We wanted to inject a bit of fun into life as a City fan because everyone was a bit down in the dumps. As I said, we both want a career in radio, but our initial thoughts were to find an audience, relate to them, and build a career from the bottom of the ladder. Bradford City’s success last year, especially in the league cup, put us in the limelight a bit and well, took the podcast beyond what we’d ever imagined, number 1 on iTunes, Wembley broadcasts, awards and even celebrity collaborations. We’re approaching half way up the ladder now, and are in talks with a national broadcaster to podcast during the World Cup…fingers crossed this works out for us!
Tom - I think our aims we're kind of foggy when we first started doing it as I genuinely believe we both thought that nobody would listen. It was such an unusual format and we didn't really no what to expect. I wouldn't say we've ever aimed high like a couple of wannabes, we just wanted to get paid for something we love doing - talking!
How much of your own time do you spend on the podcast?
Dom – A lot more time than I should, But we’re dedicated to making the show a success. It’s not just the recording and editing of the show itself that take time. We maintain a website, blogs, social networking and graphic design for everything from the website and podcast logo, to the t-shirts and phone cases we sell. Modern technology has made it possible for a minnow of a show like ours to create not only a professional image but also a shop…it’s a bit daunting to think about it really!
Tom - I think we both never really switch off from it. If you go to in an office, when 5pm comes your out the door and the job is left behind that door (usually). A lot of the time it's 3am and I'm thinking of a crazy new feature that I must wake everyone up in house about and write it down (I do't purposely wake them up, I'm just loud).
How important is the contribution of other fans to what you do?
Dom – Very, in fact it’s what Bantams Banter is all about. Without an audience the show is nothing. Fans of all ages, even as young as 9, send blogs to our website, we have fans involved in match day show content and social media, well, it’s the most invaluable tool we have. Bradford City fans and our listeners have shaped the shows content from the very first episode, even though they may not know it. We keep a keen eye on what fans are saying online and try to work it into our content. It may appear that we don’t really put much thought into the content, but we do, and I have the notebooks to prove it!
Tom - It's the whole reason why we decided to really push Bantams Banter after the first year. We soon realised that it benefited the club and fans having us do the show as we acted like a bit of a bridge between the two. We have never declared to be the best BCAFC fans out there nor professed to be the voice of the fans, we just want to give the fans a platform. Does any of that make sense?!
Are you weary about things you post?
Dom – In the old days no. But as we became more and more ‘popular’ it’s more important to have a bit of tact. Especially as the mood around the club changes. When we first started recording the show, things at the club were far from rosy, and we played up to the awful football. But things are different now. A positive attitude towards the club is not only important, but valued and deserved. The club and the fans have worked hard to improve everything about the club, and we like to be a part of that.
Tom - We were a lot of more loosed tongued when we first started because of the performances on the pitch, we were bad. It made it easy to criticise back then. It's kind of flipped on it's head now, positivity is what the club and team need now. It's ok to have a moan now and again as we sometimes do but overall it's all about the PMA.
How do you edit your podcasts? i.e. choose what to or not to include.
Dom – As I was saying above, very carefully these days. As our audience grows the more aware of what we are saying we are. We still keep it honest and edgy, but we swear less and say less things we could be held accountable for. We learnt the hard way: during last years cup run we passed comment about the ‘Eden Hazard/ball boy incident’ – the next day what we’d said had a dedicated column in the Daily Mail…just as we’d applied to broadcast from Wembley. I cried, I was scared, but the Football League were great, in fact they hadn’t seen it.
Tom - I do a rough edit first and cut out all the rough sounding parts or boring chat then Dom listens over it and tidy's it up further adding Jingles where need be. It's a case of listening and listening again just in case you missed anything.
How do you feel about winning a Football Blogging Award for Best Podcast?
Dom – We were beyond ourselves. It’s not about the award really, it’s about how we won it. We put in a lot of time and effort into the podcast, it’s our hobby, we love it, and it’s like a child to us but we were voted winners, by our listeners and fellow Bradford City supporters and I promise you, it’s doesn’t get much better than that. Again, I cried. I’m very emotional.
Tom - To sum it up, on the night I pretty much had the plague. I was coughing mucus, shivering in quite a warm environment and just felt generally crap. Then they announced we won and it was like being injected with an anti-venom, I was instantly better.
Do you have dialogue with the club?
Dom – Very occasionally. They appreciate that our content is edgy and a tad controversial at times but they know it works and that the fans like it. So they don’t interfere. They keep tabs on the show and will let us know if they think we’ve taken things too far. Which has never happened, but it’s how it should be, we’re in a privileged position, allowed to record on match days. We’re very grateful for that.
Tom- Without having the clubs backing then it would be a totally different feel to the podcast. We're independent but at the same time welcomed into the club. It's important for us and the podcast to be like this, it keeps us grounded but also respect the club we love so much.
Do you think the club sees you as a positive or negative thing?
Dom - I think if they saw us as a negative thing we wouldn’t have lasted past the first season. We’d hate to be thought of as a negative to the club too. Bradford City was our first love, the club runs through our veins, we’d never do or say anything detrimental to the club itself. If the football is poor, we’ll have a go, but that’s fandom. And that’s all we are, fans.
Tom - Positive, we are accounting real life match action as it happens in front of our eyes as two 'normal-ish' City fans. People who can't get to the games or live in Outer Mongolia appreciate this as it's not always easy to access match content if your time zone is to pot!
Do you feel that social media from your perspective has brought fans closer to the club and why?
Dom – Without doubt, and I think it could be utilised to even greater effect. This season especially the Club have tried the bring the fans ‘into the club’ – the new videos they are posting to YouTube are a fantastic insight. We get to see behind the scenes, such as ‘Tunnel Cam’ and even watching the kit man prepare the kit. It’s small touches like this that make the use of social media worth while. We see, hear and find things out now that we never would have even just a few years ago.
Tom - It has definitely helped allow fans to access more content where the Club is involved. On the flip side it's also allowed moron's out of the woodwork, where they once resided in BCAFC forums, they now take over twitter and try and drag the club into their non-coherent ramblings. The former more than the latter of course.
Do you feel that, even more so, fans are now closer to one another and why?
Dom – A few years ago the only people you really spoke to about football and things Bradford City were your mates or the people sat around you at games. Now, thanks to social media you can talk to fans across the world, all with differing opinions and stories to tell. As a group of fans it has brought us closer together as a unit. Last season cemented that.
It can bring out the worst in fans though, but only a minority but these people don’t count.
Tom - there is more of a feeling of 'together-ness' these days. Last year galvanised the fans and brought a lot of us together and rather than butting heads we were hugging...at Wembley..twice.
What is your opinion of the official Bradford City website?
Dom - It’s improving thanks to the work of the staff at the club but it could still be better. But it’s nobody at the clubs fault, they do the best they can with the tools/template they are given. Look at other league club websites, they are mostly the same template. Our clubs is actually one of the better ones.
Tom - It's based on one of these modern website designs which are intended to integrate with every device out there including your nan's toaster! the problem with these designs are they can look all over the shop, with boxes left, right and centre. I think the content is good, but honestly I think people would rather gather news from Twitter and Facebook and this is where BCAFC's on-line offer has improved rapidly.
Has your following on Twitter, for example, increased over the last season?
Dom – 10 fold. The Premier League teams we beat in the cup kind of took the podcast on, Arsenal fans especially. Last season did a lot for us as a show. It grew our audience as a show and our following on Facebook/twitter. Social media is our marketing tool, it’s invaluable to small independent shows/media like ours.
Tom - It has thanks and we are grateful for it!
What is it about social media that you find frustrating?
Dom – Brainless morons, I think they are referred to as ‘trolls’ these days. They need to get back under their bridge. Social media is fantastic, it allows you to spread your message across the world but with that comes abuse. We get some, we ignore it most of the time. It’s part and parcel of what we do, we say things that provoke, we dish it out and we can take it. But it’s the moronic, thoughtless drivel that really bugs me. Message board’s and comments sections of local media outlets for instance…
Tom - Churchill once said ''“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Everyone can have an opinion about anything, but it's when they don't accept other peoples opinions that grinds on me!
If you could change on thing about social media what would it be?
Dom - I’d add a ‘punch’ button. But one that only knows when someone has posted an idiotic message, response or comment deemed to be bullying. When you click the ‘punch’ button, a fist flies out of the screen and bashes the ‘troll’ right on the nose.
In all seriousness, I’m not sure, as it is it works well for us, and it evolving all the time. We utilise most feature the networks offer and it works well for us.
Tom - I'd invest in Dom's punch button and am willing to put up £17 for a 33% share in the business.
Do you personally read information about Bradford City more from other independent sources, newspapers or the official Bradford City site? If independent sources or newspapers please state which ones.
Dom – I try to read everything Bradford City related. It’s important to learn and expand your knowledge of the subject you broadcast/write about. The more you actually know the more credible you are, respected and appealing to listeners. Reading other sources such as The City Gent, Width Of A Post, The T&A and so on, can shape what we talk about on the show.
Tom - As above really, all the local and on line blogs are sometimes more insightful than you think. The styles, especially the City Gent and WOAP are what draws me in and sometimes little golden nuggets of information can be found that nobody else knew about.
If you could invite five people to a meal, living or dead, who would they be?
Dom - If I answered this the way I wanted to, then we’d need one of those massive medieval banqueting tables to host my dinner party, but as you’ve only allowed me space for 5, let’s see…
1) Stafford Heginbotham – the more I read about the former Bradford City custodian the more I’d love to have met him. This man saw Bradford through major difficulties and catastrophe in the 80s, it can’t have been easy, but he loved the club, spent a lot of his wealth on improving things down at VP and was supposedly one of the nicest men you could meet.
2) Harrison Ford – Not football related, but I grew up watching Star Wars and more importantly Indiana Jones. This film was my other passion as a child (behind City) and to meet the actor behind the hero would be pretty cool!
3) Frank Sinatra – I love his music. There’s a song for every mood. He’d also be the life of the party, he’d better sing though, otherwise what’d be the point.
4) Phil Parkinson – I can’t leave him out. This man guided the club I love to success, ending a decade long misery. I’d love to have the whole 2012/13 squad there, but I don’t think there is a man who’d represent them all better than this man.
5) Tom – There are of course other City heroes I’d love to have there, McCall, Gaz Jones for example. But Tom and I have grown close over the last few years. We came together just to start a radio show back in 2008 (I actually met him and my now wife on the same day) but since then we have become great friends. We’ve experience the best and worst of being a City fan together and Bantams Banter would be nothing without him. I can’t not have him round for dinner.
6) Can I just have my wife there too? She’d never forgive me for leaving her out of such a cool dinner party and I’d want her there, I’m a better person when she’s around.
Tom - I'd invite the boy band 5ive, as this would save at least 18 hours of thinking time. I would though drop Jay as he turned into a right nob towards the end and bullied Sean about his stammer. In place of Jay I would have Dom, just to continue the big love in (as above) but mostly because we do actually get on. We're very similar and have a matching sense of humour, which in all of the situations above helps!