1,000 unbroken weekly interviews is quite a record
On Monday 23rd October, Listen To Older Voices [LTOV] will celebrate it’s 1,000th continuous weekly program.
Never heard of Listen To Older Voices? Well, maybe it’s time you did!
The program was first aired nationally in October of 1998. It had that embryonic national start with Hannah Sky and Jaycey Hall.
At that time the program was operating under the auspice of the Upper Yarra Community house which is located in Melbourne’s Yarra Valley.
The Listen To Older Voices program commenced and continues to be part of the Melba Community Support program which in turn is now part of Uniting Wesley.
The idea for the program seems to have had its genesis when workers employed by the Upper Yarra Community House who were visiting people who were socially and or geographically isolated, realised that the older people they were speaking with had amazing stories about their upbringing and the times they lived in.
Workers would take a small portable cassette deck and record some of the stories of these older folk. Then the local community radio station in Woori Yallock [YV-FM] became involved and in fact is the host community station for the program and has remained involved from it’s inception until today.
From this very basic start Hannah and Jaycey worked hard to gather stories and convince the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia [CBAA] to take the program for national distribution.
In 2004, the job of program producer, interviewer and editor was taken over by myself and continue through to today.
The program has continued to grow both in its reach and in it’s style of presentation.
The most popular format for the program, as initiated by Hannah and Jaycey, was what is called, the “Life and Times” format. This is where person is encouraged to recall stories of their early life through until present time.
In those early years each person interviewed generally had a single program, but as the program developed and gained a wider audience it was changed with each persons story being given more time so that more of the persons story could be told.
Currently, each story/interview runs for three programs, with four programs being used on occasions.
As technology advanced LTOV kept pace. Recordings provided for those interviewed moved across from cassette to CD. Initially each program was on a mini disk and mailed to the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia. Now they are uploaded directly to both the CBAA satellite server and the Toorak Times.
The program continues to be broadcast weekly by YV-FM and approximately 26 community radio stations across Australia take the program regularly.
In recent years both the Melba program and Listen To Older Voices moved under the auspice of Wesley Uniting. This has meat the program has access to older people across all the regions of Melbourne and that means an even greater variety of stories.
In December of 2014 Mick Pacholli who is the publisher of the Toorak Times was approached about podcasting Listen To Older Voices. Mick, who is very astute, saw the potential in the program immediately.
So it is that every Monday at the time when the program is made available to the CBAA, a podcast of the same program is published on the Toorak Times and it’s arts magazine, Tagg.
This has increased the audience many fold.
Yet LTOV is much more than a story of technology and audience reach. Each story features the life of an Australian, born here or overseas, and who is of 65 years of age or older.
Recently, with the Baby Boomer generation moving not just past the 65 year age but into the 70 year age group, LTOV Baby Boomer generation programs, featuring the stories of this generation have been added to the programs presented.
As this is a generation that not just saw great change like its predecessors, but is a generation that drove change with a passion, it provides a whole different outlook on life as experienced by that generation.
Listen To Older Voices reminds us that those we think of as “older people’ not only have made a contribution to this country, to the state they live in and to their local community, but in so many cases continue to do so despite their age.
This is the essence of the concept the program calls “positive ageing”. It reminds us all that age is not a barrier to Australian’s undertaking activities that continue to contribute to making this country so great.
Other more recent changes have seen the introduction of “Golden Moments” programs, where past programs are taken from the “Vault of Treasured Programs” and replayed for the benefit of those who may have missed that program the first time it was aired.
Australia has become a wonderful nation and in many ways the envy of many countries. However, it did not get this way because of its sports stars and politicians, which if you watch commercial television and read the syndicated dailies, is what is you might conclude.
It IS the average everyday Australian that has made this country what it is!
Listen To Older Voices reminds us of this. It is now probably the longest running interview format program on radio or television featuring older people and with continued financial support from the commonwealth government through its Commonwealth Home Support program, will continue for many more years.
Speaking as the programs longest working producer and interviewer I say – “It is a privilege to work on this program. I don’t just get invited into people’s homes, I get invited into their lives, and, I take that very responsibly”.
There have been many hundreds of Australian’s interviewed, and everyone has a story, and every story should be told.
Among them is the story of Clem Gracie that helped LTOV become a national award winning program when in 2006, it came runner up to non other than the juggernaut, the ABC, in the category of “National – radio, news and public affairs” category of awards run by the organization, Older People Speaking Out.
Not bad for a one-person operation on a shoe-string budget up against the mighty national broadcaster!
Other outstanding interviews, and there have been many, include Jack Charles.
Jack is a much loved and iconic figure in both the indigenous and non-indigenous communities. He is among many things, an actor, musician, potter, and Aboriginal elder. Jack featured as the subject in 2012 when his photo won the National Photographic Portrait Prize. He was a National Finalist as the Senior Australian of the Year in 2016 and recently, Anh Do’s portrait of Jack won the 2017 Archibald People’s Choice Award.
So on Monday October 23rd the 1000th Listen To Older Voice’s program will air across the CBAA and via the Toorak Times and Tagg podcast. It features the Life and Times story of a 71 year old Baby Boomer by the name of Norman (Normie) Rowe AM.
Why does Normie hold pride of place as the 1000th program? Well, listen to his story and it will be obvious. While he was at one time the most popular entertainer in Australia, particularly in the 1960’s and still continues with his music career today, it really is because of his unswerving commitment, passion and dedication to Australian veterans of the Vietnam War that his story stands out.
You are encouraged to seek out this 4-part program and indeed, those that will follow.
Now while there will be many wonderful programs following the Normie Rowe story, past programs can also be accessed at anytime. There is a link at the bottom of all podcast LTOV programs that will take you to any previous podcast program.
Remember the 1,000th program can be listened to via the Toorak Times/Tagg as of Monday 23rd October and can be accessed by clicking on here.