I went out to lunch with my dear pal Nicky on the weekend. She is just about to ‘retire’ from her job at Radio Adelaide after many years of work there and elsewhere, and we talked about all she’s done over the years. This post is a way of thanking her for her fantastic contributions and cheering her on as she starts the next chapter of life. Thinking about radio as a consequence of our talk also had me musing about what a powerful medium it is for community building.
Nicky started her work life with a teaching qualification in the ’70’s and worked for a few years at a special school, and then at the Downs Syndrome Association. She got involved with radio as a volunteer at a community radio station that was called MMM (not the current MMM needless to say), and is now 3D in about 1980. She started volunteering at Radio Adelaide (which is associated with Adelaide Uni) in around 1984, first as part of an Environment show that they had. It was the time of the anti-uranium mining protests at Roxby Downs, so a very active time to be working on that show. She then assisted in producing the breakfast show for the station.
A lot of the ‘training’ in how to do the technical and presentation aspects of radio happened on the job, so she learnt as she went and before long she was making radio programs. For example, she got a grant to do some radio programs through the UTLC (the Unions) – making series on women and work, unions in other countries around the world and young people’s issues with work. She also made a regular weekly program with a guy called Tony Ryan, called Talking Training – this ran from 1993 – 1996. They had a range of different stories each week about different aspects of vocational training – women’s studies say, or training programs run in prisons, or info from TAFE. Some of their stories came from other radio stations who would send them stories to play on the program.
She made many other programs – I seem to recall that she did some work during the time of the protests about the Hindmarsh Island bridge, and she made a great show about the death of George Duncan whose murder in the Torrens River in the 1970’s played a role in decriminalising homosexuality. Nicky was a part of the team that produced and presented the station’s show about GLBTI issues (called Aqueerium), which ran on a Saturday morning for many years.
In 1998 she got a job as the station’s Training Officer. This entailed developing and running training programs for people wanting to learn about radio and how to make radio. This was and is an important part of the financing of Radio Adelaide – the fees for the courses go towards the running of the station overall. She has trained many many people in using radio, and has had a big impact. Some of this has entailed travel to other parts of the state and interstate – for example she has trained many Aboriginal people from central Australia who work for indigenous stations.
Nicky has been really committed to doing work that makes a difference – she was saying that choosing to work in the special school rather than regular school was partly about feeling that she could make more of a difference there. Her work with radio, both paid and voluntary, has been about communication and power – radio is an amazing way of having a voice, and community radio in particular provides opportunities for people to speak out. This is both as individuals finding a way to speak about things that concern them and as groups contributing to the process of social change. Radio can be at the boundary of change in a way – it takes private concerns and puts them into the public sphere.
It is wonderful to have seen Nicky at work over the years, and to see how her commitment to making the world a better place has been put into practice through the medium of radio, among other places. Last year she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the national Community Broadcasting Association as recognition of her contributions. The photo below is taken from the night (she had the Minnie Mouse bow in her hair for some comedic reason and forgot to take it out when she got the gong – it looks cute!).
I hope she can reflect on a splendid contribution made as she rides the waves (instead of making them) at Port Willunga, digs in the community garden, and pleases herself in whatever ways take her fancy! Thank you Nicky and three big cheers to you!
(Here is a link to Radio Adelaide’s website https://radio.adelaide.edu.au/ – or have a listen to them on 101.5 FM).