Week In The Life Of… Cam Durnsford, Music Coordinator PBS 106.7FM

Cameron Durnsford is something of a radio extraordinaire, with more than 10 years’ experience in community radio. He has volunteered at 4ZZZ Brisbane, and at Melbourne’s Triple R and most recently PBS 106.7FM, where he has worked full time since 2014 in marketing and events and membership before taking on the role of music and interviews coordinator at the start of 2016.

He was part of the foundation management team of the Hi-Fi Brisbane (RIP) in 2009 and has also worked in live music venues including the Prince Bandroom, Max Watt’s Melbourne, and Northcote Social Club and at festivals including All Tomorrow’s Parties, and Laneway in bar management, artist transport and merchandising.

From Monday 14 May, Cam and the team at PBS are asking its wonderful listeners to put your money where your mouth is and wrap your tastebuds around the many benefits of being a PBS Member. By Feasting Your Ears on a new or renewed membership, you’ll be helping the station to continue to sow, nurture, and grow some of the best musical produce Australia and abroad has to offer. With such as wealth of knowledge, we caught up with Cam for the latest Week in the Life Of…

Job description in your own words
Where to begin? I manage PBS’ music library and process all incoming music submissions, both physical and digital, allocating them to the programs I think they’re most likely to pick up airplay on among our 80+ programs. PBS is probably the most diverse station in Australia in terms of the genres we play, so I like to think there’s a place for everyone’s music here – though our announcers are all completely autonomous, so ultimately it’s their call. I manage our library catalogue, processing reservations and loans for announcers, select a weekly feature album – always looking to capture the diversity of what gets played here, so it could be a contemporary jazz record one week, a classic soul record the next, then a stoner doom record the week after… it’s good to keep things spicy.

I work alongside our part-time interviews coordinator Emma Hart to place interviews, in-studio performances and guest mixes for our announcers across the week’s programming, especially for Sista Zai and Milo, the presenters of The Breakfast Spread.

I also manage weekly bookings for Studio 5 Live, our live performance studio, and Drive Live, our annual live-to-air festival/party which happens every February.

Challenges and accomplishments in your week
Managing a workload this diverse is always a challenge! Balancing all these priorities and contending with about 200 emails a day can be stressful, but connecting people with good music makes it worthwhile.

Highlights of the week
Any day a Studio 5 performance is happening always puts a bit of a spring in my step – PBS has a long and proud tradition of broadcasting bands live to air, from our earliest days in St Kilda at the Prince of Wales Hotel. Whether it is a local band’s first ever live-to-air, or a high-profile international touring artist, it’s always a thrill.

Lowlights of the week
No one likes Monday mornings right? Fronting up to an overflowing inbox after a weekend’s rest is always a bit of a reality check.

Words of wisdom for people considering a job in your field
I would not be here today if it weren’t for my community radio alma mater 4ZZZ in Brisbane. Volunteering in community radio is a great way to pick up skills, meet people in the industry, get exposed to loads of new music and most importantly, make pals. Formal qualifications are far less important than contacts and experience in most jobs in the industry I know of, but a related discipline of study like journalism or audio engineering could be useful.

A brief daily journal

Mondays are all about catching up on emails, especially confirming interviews that have been in the works for our various announcers. I try and listen to a bunch of new releases that have landed in my inbox throughout the course of the week while I do this, then prepare a weekly update with our feature album and featured tracks and upcoming Studio 5 sessions which goes out to our key industry contacts – so labels, publicists, distributors and the like.

Emma is in on Tuesdays, so my day usually starts with a bit of a catch up on our priorities for the week. Then we have a fortnightly staff meeting, or music listening session on the alternate week, so that pretty much takes us to lunch. The afternoon is usually spent sorting out any work that needs to be done on Studio 5 – chasing down a booking, getting a worksheet together, advancing production and promo, making sure backline needs are covered and all that boring but important stuff.

I try and do the bulk of my listening to new music and allocations to our announcers on a Wednesday, and in the process will usually identify the following week’s feature album if I haven’t already. The afternoon will probably involve more interview or Studio 5 coordination, depending on what is more urgent, and meetings with label reps to discuss forthcoming releases and opportunities for editorial support for their artists.

On the rare occasions that I’m on top of my inbox and the constant stream of new music coming in to the station, I try and find some time to proactively seek out new tunes – this can be as simple as scanning social media for new releases, listening back to any of our programs to find things that might not be on my radar or have not been serviced to the music department, and chasing requests from our announcers for new music they haven’t received but want to play. I’m always working on establishing new relationships with labels to get their music for airplay – with digital distribution now the norm it’s a lot easier to ask a small independent label to send their music to me than in the days of physical media.

Friday is an exciting day in the PBS library – the proximity to the weekend is definitely a factor, but mainly because of the number of new releases that come out. My morning is spent scanning through these new releases for anything that I may have missed for inclusion in our weekly list of featured tracks, and pulling together the list for our our marketing team, then tying up any loose ends for any interviews in the works. It’s impossible to get everything ‘done’ in a role like this – there are a number of other projects on the go such as cataloguing, digitisation and archiving, so any ‘spare’ time on a Friday afternoon is put toward those ongoing tasks.

Get behind PBS and learn more about their Festival and membership here.

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