by Kylie Whyte
I love the radio. I love the way it makes me feel, like it’s just me and whoever is on the waves, having our own private moment. ‘Course that’s probably because I mostly listen to the radio in my car, or through headphones while I’m walking. I laugh, I cry, I groan and shake my head in disbelief, and no one else knows why I’m doing that. It’s a moment of private, concentrated listening.
Radio National is my main source of news and commentary on the world, and I’m ok with that. But community radio.. well that’s really special. To me, community radio is inherently political, because it is people taking back control of what is transmitted over the waves.
People meeting people, talking to people, organising for change, interpreting the world around them. All within a fairly strict legislative framework mind you, but still…it’s people power, and I love it!
Since moving to Geelong I feel much more inclined to get involved in community events and activities. It’s smaller and more like a country town than a big city, and I like that. So last year I enrolled in an introduction to radio broadcasting course through 94.7 The Pulse FM. For eight Monday nights I dragged myself along after work, battling exhaustion and hunger, and learnt about how to ‘do’ radio. It was fun, but I wasn’t sure where to go from there. One thing I did learn was how much work it takes to have your own show, and that dampened my enthusiasm a little at the time.
But life became a little freer for me, and I approached The Pulse earlier this year, asking if I could volunteer on a show. And so I was led to Kickarts, Chris Bryan’s show about all things arty in Geelong and surrounds. My intention from the start was to bring a focus on Community Arts, as Chris has more of a focus on the professional arts, and to look at making radio documentaries. So for the first month or so I came onto the show every week and did the Arts News segment, as well as providing a couple of interviews for the show. I loved getting to meet artists and gallery owners, as well as interviewing people involved in community arts.
Suddenly I found myself handed two shows to do on my own. Exciting! Scary! I decided the first show would focus on singing, and interviewed Kym Dillon, a supremely talented musician who leads a few With One Voice choirs including With Once Voice Geelong, through Creativity Australia, and who has been involved with Community Music Victoria a great deal in the past. We had a great chat, and I went to a rehearsal to record some vox pops with choir members. What a joyous atmosphere Kym creates as a singing leader! I edited it all down and spent hours in the studio trying to put together the show. After a few mishaps that saw me losing hours of work in a botched attempt to save my edits I decided I was going to have to wing it on the day. And wing it I did, with two musicians coming in at short notice to do a live interview about their forthcoming concert on the music of Hildegard de Bingen. Yes there was dead air…a few short periods of it as I struggled to coordinate faders and buttons and the quirks of iTunes…but overall I was pretty proud that I had got through a show alive and not humiliated.
My second show was focused on the sea, with an interview with Lighthouse Arts Collective in Point Lonsdale and a phone interview with Bryce Ives, the director of a play reading happening at Queenscliff Literary Festival. The first half of the show went well, and I silently congratulated myself on remembering all the transitions. But after pride…..well, you know the rest. While setting up the phone interview with Bryce I forgot to turn off the microphone, so everybody listening heard a very strange version of Ina Wroldsen’s song ‘Sea’, complete with me talking and laughing the whole way through. Mortified. But still, I mostly did a good job, and I’m inspired to keep working to improve my skills.
My hope is that through radio I can promote the stories of people living and working and making music and other art in the community.
I want to delve into what inspires people to create, and to support the voices of people who are not usually represented in the arts.
Who knows..maybe there will be radio documentaries in my future…probably there will be the occasional dead air…but I hope I will never leave my microphone on at the wrong time again!
Kylie is an ESL teacher, community worker and musician, and was once involved on the Board of CMVic. She is passionate about the power of music to connect, communicate and empower people, and hopes to start some singing groups in Geelong.