Simon is the Music Coordinator of one of Australia’s most influential community radio stations. Based in Melbourne, Triple R FM has been broadcasting for more than 40 years and since the introduction of digital radio which now houses 60 different shows. He began as a contributor for FBi Radio, as well as street press in Sydney before accepting a role at SBS arts, music and talks program Alchemy. After a brief stint working in London and Berlin as a freelance radio producer, Simon packed his mp3 collection and returned to Melbourne to start as Music Coordinator at Triple R. He also co-presents a new-releases music show called Breaking and Entering with Lauren Taylor.
His favourite fake chip flavour is jalapeño and this is his Week In The Life Of… Thanks Simon!
Triple R is an un-playlisted radio station: Everyone plays only the songs they want to, exactly when they want to. My role across the week is to work with other staff and volunteers to assist broadcasters to access new releases arriving at RRR. I communicate with artists, managers, labels and other representatives about their music, and make it available to everyone in either physical or digital form. In a general sense, the Music Coordinator is responsible for overseeing Triple R’s music resources and content, supporting staff and broadcasters and listeners with any music-related matters.
Day to day tasks vary, but the essential elements are consistent. Monday starts early, it takes me much longer than it should to write the review of our Album of the Week for our website. I factor in extra time to listen to the album again, stare at the screen, write, delete and rewrite a few sentences. Later I compile the Soundscape, a weekly look at local and international releases making a strong impression on our musical radar. The list, including the album of the week, covers a cross-section of EP’s and albums arriving at the station. It is the end result of many passionate conversations, calls and emails between the Music Department (myself and Sam Cummins – Music Interviews Coordinator), and all staff and broadcasters.
I work with volunteers to catalogue and distribute all titles arriving each week and maintain the CD library. At the moment we’re digitizing the CD and vinyl archives in order to make every song available in one place. It’s been a rewarding, and enlightening process, revealing the range of music stored at the station. Last year, our vinyl library served as a source for the Midnite Spares compilation, put together by Triple R broadcasters Andras and Lewis Fidock. Housed in the collection are rare copies of limited run and private press records originally delivered in the ’70s and ’80s, and are now difficult to find elsewhere. One of the highlights is a ska-tinged dance punk jam Wind It Up, recorded live at a radio station in Canberra by Mumbo Jumbo and revived from the archives to become a high rotation hit over the past year. Also included is a song from The Couch, restored from an issue of cassette fanzine Fast Forward published by 3RRR’s Bruce Milne in 1982. And in case links back to Triple R couldn’t be stronger, the whole compilation is released on Efficient Space, a new reissue label run by former broadcaster Michael Kucyk of Noise In My Head. There’s a video online of Andras and Lewis and Woody McDonald (broadcaster and former Music Coordinator) talking about the songs, while listening to many of the featured tracks. Around that time, a photo was taken of Michael Kucyk adding a copy of Midnite Spares to the shelves that store so many of the original recordings; an act which beautifully illustrates the ongoing exchange of knowledge and passion at the heart of the station.
Highlights of the job
At Triple R, we’re fortunate to receive a steady stream of songs from various sources every single day. Solo artists and bands are all in contact with submissions. Broadcasters bring in their own discoveries. There’s music blogs, streaming services, DJ charts, new releases from labels and music shops. Vinyl and cassettes and mp3s and USBs and CDs and occasionally a VHS recording. Music making technologies are widely available, and there are more platforms than ever on which to share. Being in a position to listen, to have conversations about music with staff, volunteers and broadcasters, and help distribute songs for airplay is an incredible privilege.
Lowlights of the job
No lowlights that I can think of, but the volume of music has forced me over time to work out more effective ways of organising. There have been some times where my desk was lost beneath stacks of CDs.
Words of wisdom
For anyone keen to learn more, volunteering is a brilliant way to start. At Triple R and other stations, there are opportunities to explore depending on your interests, including broadcast training programs. I was very lucky to gain experience this way, beginning in Sydney at FBi, and later at SBS and Triple R. When FBi was applying for a permanent license I was coincidentally studying at Sydney Uni where there was a temporary studio in the adjoining Footbridge theatre. I’d volunteered for the radio society and was able to make myself available for last minute graveyard shifts after completing a quick training course. I remember keeping a supply of energy drinks ready. It was a life-changing time, and over the years I’m more and more aware of how extraordinary Community radio stations are, for so many reasons; critical as a source of diverse perspectives and information, and as independent hubs which link many different communities and organizations.
Check out some of the sweet volunteering opportunities Simon talks about and more below!
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