Meet Me on the Radio was a weekly radio show broadcast every Tuesday at 11.30am – 12 midday on Resonance FM between May 2020 - May 2021. It was conceived as a partnership between myself and Grant Smith 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 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 streambox 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.
Symbols next to favourite episodes. Graphics by Sam Baraitser Smith.
SEASON 3, JANUARY - MAY 2021
EPISODE 1: CHANGE
We welcome in the year with stories of hope and change, and new features led by Meet Me members: a meditation moment, conversation corner and Deptford Island Discs. We listen to streams from Slovenia, Australia, and our own backyard. Ros commemorates the 40th Anniversary of the New Cross Fire.
EPISODE 2: CREATIVE PRACTICES
We hear about papier-mâché experiments alongside reflections on inspiration from painter Agnes Martin. Bird song accompanies human voices throughout the show - blackbirds in Deptford, parrots in Peru and a bird-of-paradise in West Papua. Fishermen sing while pulling in nets from the sea, and Nina Simone plays us into a storm on keys.
EPISODE 3: DOMESTIC SPACE
A community choir for elders in Lewisham share new music and a morning meditation. Artist Celia Pym collects stories from expert knitters at Meet Me, and we hear about learning with the help of a coconut bowl. Architects Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal draw together themes around domestic space, as Ros and Ron talk parrots and lives lived in lockdown.
EPISODE 4: DEPTFORD
Friends of Meet Me share experiences of music in Deptford, as we hear samples from dub to drill. Members talk about the changing high street, and share their memories of the area. Recent recordings from the market and shops mark the absence of Lewisham's usual buzz, but five minutes outside Terry's Discount Store shows us the community spirit prevails.
EPISODE 5: CINEMA
Happy lunar new year from the Meet Me team. We celebrate with a dragon dance from Chinatown in The Hague and traditional Zhuang song. Meet Me members talk about film, remembering trips to the cinema and courting in the back row seats. Hosts Ron and Ros are joined by a volunteer from Deptford Cinema, and we hear sounds of projectors, trailers and the classic MGM lion.
EPISODE 6: PROTEST
Members of Meet Me discuss their memories of the Black People’s Day of Action in 1981, with 'artivist' Sheba of Irie Dance and a student activist, Hafsa from Goldsmiths. Paul Gilroy, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Lisa Amanda Parker reflecting on how a local response to the grief and outrage provoked by the New Cross Fire became a turning point in the history of Black Politics in Britain.
EPISODE 7: WALKS
Meet Me members are joined by artists from A.P.T. Gallery to talk about spaces they walk through, ahead of their 'Ground Work' exhibition in October. Members talk about their favourite parks, remember routes and beach walks. Sounds of artists' projects that consider walks of all varieties accompany these conversations - from tight-ropes to forest walk recordings.
EPISODE 8: LEARNING
Meet Me members share stories of learning. We listen in to archive material exploring education and language, and hear original creations from the poetry and storytelling group led by artist, Adam Kammerling. Deptford Island Discs this week features music lover and singer, Ted.
EPISODE 9: SPRING
Meet Me members observe the change in seasons. We hear from the Butterfly Conservation Trust and a new project 'Albany Connects'. Sinatra sings 'Fly Me to the Moon' and we hear Buzz Aldrin do just that. This episode celebrates World Frog Day with recordings of children looking at tadpoles at Rachel McMillan Nursery, and also Persian New Year with beautiful Iranian lullabies.
EPISODE 10: WORK
Ted's first job was at a slaughterhouse, Gladys in a paint factory, Kurban remembers working in a printers, and Fred talks about his boxing days. Norma and Celia chat about her nursing memories. Sounds of steel works, laundry and political discussions at the barbers feature in the show. Two Lewisham elders discover a surprising coincidence...
EPISODE 11: RADIO
This week's show considers radio and its capacity for connectivity. Meet Me members remember particular voices on the radio, favourite stations and listening together on Sundays. We hear radio intercepts in Indonesia, teletype, pips, buzzers and other sounds from ham radio. A tree groans in Australia and artist Kate Donovan proposes alternative radio histories.
EPISODE 12: DAWN
We hear a mix of live streams from Reveil, a 25 hour broadcast that tracks the sounds of the dawn chorus as the sun moves across the globe. Meet Me members share stories about getting to work in the early hours. Philip performs a new poem inspired by the dawn chorus, and the Tuesday group chat about an adopted parrot and listening to the robin song.
EPISODE 13: BODIES OF WATER
Meet Me members talk about water as a source, a place to bathe, a life force. Music from Muddy Waters and a poem in Shetland dialect sit alongside memories of favourite beaches, stories of overflowing bathtubs, and sounds transmitted from a manhole cover in south east London of the underground Effra River.
EPISODE 14: URBAN GREEN SPACES
A fair trade organiser speaks from the Palestinian Occupied Territories and a local grower tells us about his allotment in Lewisham. Seeds are dispersed to members via electric bicycle as part of the Albany Connects project, and we learn about open pollinated seed from Charlotte at the London Freedom Seed Bank. A toucan and a red-eared fruit dove accompany poems and reflections.
EPISODE 15: ECOLOGICAL RADIO
As we end our residency producing the show, this episode looks at a year of working together to test new ways of making radio. Udo Noll introduces Radio Aporee, from which we often source field recordings. We hear excerpts from shows across May 2020-21, and members consider the sounds they've noticed this year - from creaky floorboards to baby starlings.
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 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 3: LETTERS
Entelechy Arts sends out mystery parcels to elders in south London, hosts 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 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.
EPISODE 5: A GLOBAL GARDEN
Foxes, birds, frogs, bees... we consider gardens and their inhabitants. The Albany harvest seeds and plan a new wildflower area for the community, and members reflect on their enjoyment of outdoors. Talk is accompanied by a garden themed repertoire from the City of London Sinfonia, and artist Milford Graves leaves us with thoughts on gardening, community and spirituality.
EPISODE 6: LIVES OF TREES
As the streambox installed in the Albany garden continues to feed us live sounds from Deptford, the show opens with an autumnal feel. Meet Me members play a new game - listening to sounds of forests from across the globe. Artists and scientists talk about the secret lives of trees, and we hear a collection of related sounds - leaves rustling, trees falling, wood burning.
EPISODE 7: FUN & GAMES
Children’s clapping games in Kenya open this week's show. Reminiscence of skipping is accompanied by sounds of jump rope by world record holders Black Magic. Oral histories trace games all the way from the 1890s. We also hear children exploring an adventure playground in Wales and new thinking around how computer games can help to solve social problems.
EPISODE 8: POEMS
Meet Me members share their poems and discuss writing processes. We hear examples of Lettrism and sound poetry, alongside readings of works by T.S. Elliot and Homer. Field recordings and Ukwuani highlife music from Nigeria set the scene for reflections from Meet Me member Stella and special guest poet Yomi Sode.
EPISODE 9: LET'S DANCE
Sheba Montserrat of IRIE! dance theatre leads a warm up, shares music and a conversation with elders from the Caribbean in this special dance-themed episode. Quadrille meets Chicago Footwork as we explore contemporary styles as well as those remembered by Meet Me members.
EPISODE 10: RIBBIT
Do frogs hibernate? We hear a selection of North American frogs recorded by herpetologist Charles M. Bogert in the 1950s. Ros and Ron share memories in this wintery episode; hedgehogs shuffle around the show, a doormouse snores and the wind howls. We hear concerns from Inuit and indigenous people about ice breaking and listen to Antarctic underwater sounds.
EPISODE 11: SOUP
Ros prepares her chicken soup throughout the show, as we focus on food and recipes. Residents of Lewisham Homes remember favourite meals, and Delitia shares suggestions for the perfect rice and peas. We hear about the harvesting of yam in Ghana, and learn the Yam Step from Fred Astaire.
EPISODE 12: A CHOIR ON THE PHONE
Members share songs and memories of places evoked by music, illustrated with sounds from across the globe. As the group reflect on technological challenges of a telephone choir and the joy of togetherness, we hear a selection of artists' projects including a computer poem, a mixtape for a daughter and the 'radio of the future'.
EPISODE 13: BEING HEARD
Presenters from two other radio shows by and for elders to join Ron and Ros this week. Hackney Social Radio and Babbers in Bristol share their experience of presenting and why they feel it's important to hear older voices on the radio. We also hear from legendary pirate radio presenters and extracts from radio art projects. The Meet Me choir share Christmas songs.
SEASON 1, MAY - JULY 2020
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.
EPISODE 2: BIG WEATHER
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 8: WINDRUSH DAY
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 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.
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.
EPISODE 11: OBJECTS AS INSTRUMENTS
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.
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 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.