Meet Me on the Radio is a new weekly radio show broadcast every Tuesday at 11.30am – 12 midday on Resonance FM. It was conceived as a partnership between myself and Grant Smith, under the umbrella of Soundcamp, with Meet Me at the Albany, a programme for over 60s by the Albany and Entelechy Arts.
In March 2020, we were mid-way through a residency working with members of the Meet Me community - a vibrant cohort of over 60s. With COVID-19 presenting serious risks for older people, the programme stopped meeting in person and as many of its members were already at risk of social isolation and without access to digital devices, we began working towards producing a radio show available on FM bands in order to speak to people directly in their homes.
The show aims to provide an accessible and regular source of connection and entertainment led by the creative voices of vulnerable adults in challenging times. Usually, the weekly arts club includes a choir, gardening activity, films and live events and performance - and so we include some of these elements in the show for familiarity. The hosts, two Meet Me regulars, record their segments via a phone call, and we weave together their conversations with archive material, new features made by artists and members, and environmental sounds. Grant installed a stream box in the Albany garden, so we always have an ear out for sounds from the Meet Me base, and we mine the rich Soundcamp archive of recordings from across the globe, blending sounds of knitting with snapping shrimps, and inviting listeners to enjoy different sonic textures, diverse voices and surprising soundscapes.
SEASON 2, SEPTEMBER - DECEMBER 2020
EPISODE 1: BLOWING AROUND
A windy morning blows in the autumn season. We listen to a poem by Lewisham Homes residents and an autumn meditation from 8th Century Vietnam. A storm blows towards Cévennes, and we hear night insects and owls in the region. Meet Me members share songs and stories, accompanied by a washing machine in Poland and rabbits munching cabbage.
EPISODE 3: LETTERS
As Entelechy Arts sends out mystery gift parcels to elders in south London, hosts Ron and Ros share stories of letters they’ve received. We hear music made by Ghanaian postal workers whilst cancelling stamps, and a sonic postcard from schoolchildren in Damascus. Racing pigeons in Suffolk follow field recordings of post offices in Slovenia and Romania, interrupted by the sounding of a traditional post horn.
EPISODE 2: BEACHED
As we say goodbye to the summer, Meet Me members share memories of the sea. We hear stories of morning bathing in Jamaica and learning to swim in Hastings, whilst listening to mating calls of haddock and pink-footed geese whiffling. Malcolm paints fish over the phone with members, and records a fishing trip with his grandson.
EPISODE 4: MUSICAL EXCHANGE
An intergenerational exchange between Meet Me and the SE8 sound collective at The Albany. Young people produce their own versions of the favourite songs of Meet Me members, as well as original compositions. We hear musicians talk about composition and process, sampling and field recording, alongside music from Ghana, crickets in Seoul, and a market in Rwanda.
SEASON 1, MAY - JULY 2020
EPISODE 2: BIG WEATHER
Welcome to Meet Me on the Radio. Presenters Ron and Ros are at home during lockdown, recording the show via their phones. They introduce us to the Meet Me choir, David the gardener and other members - including Huw, who remembers argumentative starlings. Hannah shows us how to make a bird feeder whilst we listen to recordings from Deptford just before lockdown.
As the seasons turn, we take a moment to listen to what's around. Ted sings a solo, and we hear regular features from the choir and an update from the Albany garden. Grant Smith from Soundcamp talks about transmission ecologies and changing soundscapes during lockdown. Huw tells a story of a storm he vividly remembers from childhood.
EPISODE 3: EVERYTHING IS ALIVE
It's spring. Children dressed as bees have invaded and started to hive. Ants are everywhere. Knitting needles become snapping shrimp and we are submerged into a kelp forest. Malcolm tells us about a recent exhibition at Meet Me. Ros shows us her lockdown circulation excersises.
EPISODE 4: DOMESTIC SOUNDS
Ron sings us a song and Ruth has a remote whilstlng jam with Ros. Children from the local nursery get involved in planting, and a child loves crows. We think about our domestic soundscapes, hear a carwash, a creaking barn in Nothern Ireland and a South East London fridge.
EPISODE 5: THE SWAMP
A muggy episode. We hear frogs from four continents: Tanzanian frogs, tree frogs and American bullfrogs in Japan join sounds from the River Effra and a London blackbird. Fuchsias come alive in the Albany Garden. Malcolm introduces us to his parrot as he constructs mystery gifts for members.
EPISODE 6: PAUSE FOR REFLECTION
Following the murder of George Flloyd, we take a break from our usual programmng and instead offer a space for reflection. We listen to a segment from 'Waking in Nima' by Steven Feld, with Q’ranic prayer calls, Pentecostal preaching, and birds singing in a diverse neighbourhood of Accra, Ghana.
EPISODE 7: LIVE VS RECORDED
Ron talks about sound fx and tries some out. IRIE dance theatre for African and Caribbean performing arts lead a workout you can do from your chair. We listen to sounds from London recorded in 1928, a coal seller in 1956 and Columbia Road flower market in 2008, thanks to the digitisation and restoration work of Ian Rawes at the London Sound Survey.
EPISODE 9: CHILDHOOD
Ron shares his memories of being evacuated from London as a child. We hear recordings of Doodlebugs from the Imperial War Museum. Jam bubbles and submerges us into an underwater kelp forrest. Sing-a-long to a sea shanty, snap with shrimps or grunt with a catfish. We hear more from the London Sound Survey with Billingsgate fish market in 1935 and a Jellied Eel Seller in 1956.
A steel pan plays from a youth centre in Deptford. Ron and Ros talk about their working lives.We hear powerful stories from Meet Me members who were born in Jamaica and tell us of their experiences of moving to the UK, the stuggles they went through and their experiences of racism. Ros talks about education and her work for after-school clubs.
EPISODE 8: WINDRUSH DAY
EPISODE 12: OBJECTS SPRING TO (SONIC) LIFE
Everyday objects are waking up, taking on a life of their own. Meet Me members share unusual knitting stories and we listen to washboard bands, a street pianola and a snippet from the Mammoth Beat Organ by Graham Dunning and Sam Underwood.
EPISODE 10: BEING HUMAN
A young participant from the Albany Uncover project shares his story of beaches and blue lights. We hear perspectives on movement, migration and racial injustice from Mohamed at the Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers. Spoken word from Gil Scott-Heron and notes on the history of racism from critical theorist, Hortense Spillers.
Ros and Ron share memories of children using pots and pans as instruments. We hear of uses of everyday objects for music making at the Ambient Jam project initiated by Charles Hayward with members with profound disabilities. Ron whistles, as do musicians in 1960s Columbia, and we hear sounds of El Cacerolazo, or casserole protest, from Puerto Rico.
OBJECTS AS INSTRUMENTS
EPISODE 13: VIEW FROM THE ROOF
Far-away fire bellied toads and nearby froglets in the Albany pond. We hear sounds from rooftops around the globe, from snowy Czechia to a heat soaked Zanzibar Fair, skipping through the seasons to celebrate the final show before the summer break.