WAM INTERVIEWS: RTRFM’s General Manager Stu MacLeod
Radiothon is RTRFM’s annual 10-day fundraising drive, and the annual Radiothon Party is due to take over Northbridge once more on this Saturday 13 August. Ahead of this important time for RTRFM, WAM’s Lauren Bettridge caught up with RTRFM’s General Manager (and local music/Eskimo Joe legend!) Stu MacLeod to discuss this, as well as his vision for the future of the station, his three local picks he’s loving, weird song titles, advice for Perth musos and more…
You’ve been in the role of GM for over half a year now, how are things shaping up?
I think the biggest change over the 7 months has been my appreciation for this place. I always held it in high regard for the role it plays in supporting local music, but just sitting in this chair each day listening to all the different characters… It’s truly inspiring. Everyone has such a huge wealth of knowledge and is so passionate, it’s a pleasure to listen to. I also didn’t realise how much you discover when you listen to RTRFM. Every day I’m hearing new music, not only from WA but from across the globe. Seriously inspiring. I’ve been really proud of our events to date this year. In The Pines was a killer lineup curated by Chris Wheeldon, and A Moment In Time at the museum represented a real step up in scope and quality, thanks to Chris and Renee Pole’s vision and execution. There’s a bunch of little things we’ve implemented internally as well, such as having a permanent backup of everything that goes to air. We used to only backup 7 week’s worth, but now it’s all captured forever. That sort of thing is incredibly important; for an organistation like this to have that archive. It’s huge.
And the weirdest/funniest thing you’ve seen in the office so far?
Weirdest and consistently funniest thing is Sandy’s Out To Lunch, particularly his penchant for choosing songs with exquisitely bizarre titles. Favourites to date include Slow Agony of a Dying Orgasm by Puce Mary, An Open Letter To Seniors From Mackenzie by Department Store Santas, Chocolate Surprise by Colostomy Baguette and I’m Gonna Bring A Watermelon To My Girl Tonight by The Real Savoy Havana Band.
You’re in the unique position of having been part of a successful local act yourself, what advice would you give to local artists trying to make it here in Perth?
Play as many shows as you can. You’ll get to make friends with other bands, that will always help you out. Whether it leads to collaborations, supports or elsewhere, it’s great to be part of something bigger than just your band; plus, playing shows will make you a better live act, help you figure out which songs really connect with people and generate better word of mouth than any other avenue. And utilize RTRFM! They’re one of your best resources! Send in your music, ask for interviews and buy advertising for your shows/launches, it all helps, more than you know.
Both RTRFM and WAM champion local music, how did they both help you/Eskimo Joe when you were starting out?
RTRFM gave us our first airplay, and always helped us in any way they could, be it through interviews, live on-air performances, promotion of our shows and having us play on their events like In The Pines. Without their support, who knows what path we would have taken. RTRFM definitely gave us the confidence to back ourselves and take the music seriously. I know that’s difficult to believe, if you’ve ever heard Sweater… And WAM is incredibly important. Their devotion to promoting WA music is unparalleled. Events like the WAM Awards highlight this state on a national level. I was always blown away with how much the other states take notice of the WAM awards. We’d go on tour in 2004 and everyone would be congratulating us on our WAMi wins. It’s so important to have an organisation purely dedicated to supporting local music, be it right here in our own backyard or further out into regional areas. Having somewhere to turn to for any information – funding or support elsewhere – is huge, especially in more remote areas.
Why should people subscribe to RTRFM?
Because it matters. Your money doesn’t go to paying some dude to sit on his arse and justify his salary. These people work their asses off day in, day out. The dedication is inspiring. And that’s just the staff. Over 250 volunteer presenters, each one with their own particular area of expertise. So much knowledge and passion; RTRFM is where you go to discover music. RTRM is where you go to learn and understand what is happening in your state, your country and the world in general. All this from non-commercialised, agenda-less sources. When you subscribe to RTRFM you keep your community alive, not just RTRFM’s. Without community radio like us, you’re in for a shitty spoon-fed cultural experience where X-Factor, Nickelback and Rupert Murdoch are your breakfast, lunch and dinner.
What 3 acts are you most looking forward to seeing at the Radiothon party and why?
► Childsaint: Hallelujah Heartache is one of the best local tunes this year. I’d know, it’s been played every 4 and a half minutes for the last four months straight.
► Rabbit Island: Utterly stunning, atmospheric landscapes. Or some other less-wanky description.
► Doctopus: Who doesn’t like Doctopus?
Predictions for the funniest happenings at the Radiothon Party?
Peter Barr. Anything that man does is funny.
Looking forward, what do you hope to bring to RTRFM and where do you see the station in 3 years from now?
I’m really keen to raise awareness for RTRFM across the board, but specifically south of the river. Trying to get a lot more presence in Freo. RTRFM has a wealth of knowledge I’d like to tap into as well. In 3 years, I hope RTRFM is generating more income through its radio training programs, expanding these into schools and businesses, plus I’m keen to start up some DJ courses as well. Overall though, I’d just like to build on our existing community, grow our listenership and our goodwill. I think RTRFM’s more important than ever, and I want to be able to have as many people aware of just how diverse and inspiring a place it is.
RTRFM’s Radiothon Party – Saturday 13 August, The Bird, Ezra Pound, the State Theatre Centre Foyer, Studio Underground
The continued support of listeners during Radiothon ensures that RTRFM can continue to remain a high-quality alternative to mainstream media in Perth, and continue being such a fine supporter of local music!