10 April 2008

The End of an Era

I remember back in 2003 I did few radio shows with a friend of mine for the university station. We called our show Welfare Society. It was my idea; my mate thought it was a stupid name, but I insisted. Later on that year, after a verbal warning (for playing music in language other than English; apparentely we should have applied for a special permission) had ended our initiative at the university station another friend suggested that I should call another project Welfare State or even better, Welfare State of Mind. I liked that. It has got musical references and I felt that it explains my approach (which later on proved to be just wishful thinking as I guess not that many got it).
I started this web blog with the same name in 2005 while I was in a hospital drip. My first ever post was talking about the situation in Zimbabwe partly with my own anecdotes and just in general. I guess it’d be pretty current post for now as well as the great country of Zimbabwe is sorting out its politics. Really the point of the blog was an experiment. I wanted to learn how blogging works and what it can achieve, what is RSS technology (at the time it was rather new), and what gets your site some visitors (I guess I never worked that out tremendously well, but I think I still got the idea at least in theory). Of course it’s been beyond an experiment. Blog without posts is like radio with no sound. So this space become a platform for me to let the steam out and just offer my self-righteous and obnoxious opinions for everyone to give a toss about – and why not, isn’t that what the blogs are for. I suppose it’s (just about) better than to do it in a taxi queue after a night out.
Some time after the opening of blog, still in 2005, I arrived to Cape Town. I started my internship at Bush Radio where they were expecting a female and I was expecting to produce radio drama. Neither party got what they expected, but on top of training people to edit sound, I ended up doing a radio show; I certainly wasn’t expecting that, but hey, I like doing radio so I was very flattered. Being in a country like South Africa and being offered a large audience, few hours a week and creative control over the content and the music is a great opportunity.
The first thing that was obvious was that I can’t just do a show about Kwaito, local jazz or any other musical genre that my audience could have done better than me. That me being an outsider and a foreigner I must do something that adds value to the output of the station and is useful for the community in one way or the other. I had been interested in Hip Hop since I was a kid and in 1998 my perspective to it started changing. That’s when I bought few records that changed things: Min Sjätte Sinne by Petter and Vägen Tillbaka by Ken, two Swedish records that were and still are great (regardless of the more recent material from the former, which is a bit too so so for my liking). I realised that American Hip Hop isn’t all there is and those records sounded so Swedish that it just made me wonder how other cultures and countries communicate their lives through the medium of Hip Hop. So yeah, from that on I was on that tip and that was the tip I decided my radio show at Bush would be. I tried few other things with community based interviews and I had few of them. The whole thing was just trying to come together at that point and eventually I dropped the idea of talking about anything else but music and to be just unashamedly a music specialist show with music and interviews and talk around it.
It worked nicely, I thought, and I felt that I could find interesting tracks and in the process of producing this show I found so much exiting music from places I never dreamed about finding music from. Not that I thought that they don’t have it, just that I thought that it wouldn’t be available. Countries like Lebanon, Chile (they have a very strong scene) and Bulgaria. On top of those from over 70 other countries. I interviewed some interesting people and met online many more. I made many very talented friends through the show and it was the best hobby I've ever had. I felt that the show had cool playlist every week and that the music was relevant and catchy. I was also pretty happy about the sound imaging of the programme. I was also particularly proud of the fact that out of my initiative the programme became pilot project for the station as I took its production overseas and we broadcasted it with some help from the internet technology every week for 2 and half years.
Well, maybe you noticed that I am talking about all of these things in a past tense (maybe you read my previous post in which I hinted about this) and indeed it is true that I decided to quit doing the show. So thanks for everyone who helped me out, sent tracks and came to the interviews, to everyone who listened even once and everyone who gave feedback. It all is so much appreciated.
Now it’s time to do other things and I am hoping to write more about my initiative which is more business like than the ones mentioned before. Well, I say more, but what I mean is that it’s purely a business venture and I am very exited about that, but at the moment I am not getting into the details (so you don’t steal them, ey), but the idea is keeping me and my wife very busy and it is very much audio based.
So, the end of an era is a beginning for a new one.

Welfare State of Mind Radio Show on Bush Radio 2005 -2008 : snapshots from the way.

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