RTRFM’s All Things Queer notches up a decade on air

All Things Queer, the weekly radio program that airs on RTRFM 92.1 is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary. OUTinPerth editor Graeme Watson looks back over its decade on air.

Queer programming has been a regular feature on the community radio station over it’s more than four decades on air. The station was the very first to broadcast on the FM band in Western Australia turning on it’s transmitter on 1st April 1977. Over the decades a number of queer themed programs have aired on the station.

In the early 1980’s the camp and unpredictable E.T.H.O.S. entertained audiences late and night with a multitude of characters, mountains of parody and unexpected sounds. In the 1990’s Sheer Queer was an important source of information for the local community, later came in QuEAR and Open Closets. 

In 2009 when I was appointed to the position of General Manager of the station I arrived a week before the announcement of a bunch of shows being cancelled, and some fresh new programs being added to the program grid. The show’s coming to an end included the quirky Theatre Organ Time, and the queer themed Open Closets. A collection of talk based shows had also been cut back to shorter time slots, among them was a long running feminist show. To the outside world it looked like I’d arrived as a new manager immediately killed off a few shows, including the one that represented my own queer community.

I got quite a few strongly worded letters from the LGBTI community, feminists and lovers of organ music, but the decision making process happened month’s before I arrived, and renewal is an important part of a community radio station. The LGBTI show had simply fizzled out and there were not enough presenters involved to maintain the program, and it had become focused on playing camp dance music, and rarely featured any interviews.

Immediately we began sounding out people in the LGBTI community to see if we could find people interested in putting a submission for a new queer show for 2010. One of the first people who began championing a new program was Danae Gibson who was working as a TAFE lecturer in radio and was a longtime member of the station. Danae Gibson encouraged student Paul van Lieshout Hunt to step up and he was given the task of coordinating the submission for the new program.

One of the organisation’s that was crucial to making sure there were enough presenters for a new show was The Freedom Centre and it’s coordinator Dani Wright-Toussaint. Once the idea for a new program was submitted and accepted, we arranged for a large collection of new presenters to be trained in how to create radio.

The program debuted in February 2010 at 10pm on Monday nights, to launch the show it was streamed live at The Court Hotel. Over it’s life the show has featured political debates, LGBTI celebrities, and promoted an endless stream of local events and initiatives. It’s also had many different hosts join its team over it’s 10 year history including Graham Douglas Meyer, Tim Lanzon, Tim Daly, Dean Cahill, Serika Camilleri, Antonino Tati, Robin Litvins-Salter, Sadie Ward, Tom Reynolds, Elle Cee, Leigh Andrew Hill, Misty Farquhar,  Hen Grenville and Harriet Kenny.

In 2016 the show was promoted to daytime programming and now airs at 11am on Wednesday mornings. it now also appears on Melbourne radio station JOYFM on Sunday mornings.

I caught up with some of the presenters who’ve hosted the show over the decades and asked them about their memories of being behind the microphone.

How did you come to present All Things Queer?

Paul van Lieshout Hunt: I submitted the first program proposal, and then presented the program for a number of years.

Dean Cahill:  I was interviewed for Pride and knowing some of the presenters I decided to volunteer for the show. I left school half way through year 12 and started radio announcing in my local country radio station 6MD Merredin. I did that for 3 years before moving to Perth to work at Channel 9 Perth.

Serika Camilleri: Tim Daly and I are best friends and he was presenting on ATQ. He had been asking me for a while to co-host with. I finally decided to jump onto the show.

Harriet Kenny: Producer Peter Barr encouraged me to join after I created an LGBTI+ show for my radio presenter unit at Murdoch.

Robin Litvins-Salter: Honestly my friend Xanthea got me to start volunteering at RTR. After a few months of working admin Peter Barr accosted me in the break room and and told me I had a good voice and personality for radio and I took him up on it.

What is your favourite memory of being on the show?

Harriet: Interviewing the ‘Briefs’ boys

Serika: Radiothon was always so much fun and pride month on the show. Organising the float for ATQ with Tim and being in my first pride parade!

Dean: To be honest every show was awesome for me. Being there and letting people know about what was happening in out community. Growing up in a country town and in the closet I can understand how hard it was for people. Hearing that listeners were in their bedrooms or in a car listening to the program was awesome.

Robin: When the postal survey results were called we were going on air. All of us were crammed in the studios celebrating. I had half a glass of wine to celebrate and it mixed with my new meds so I was tipsy on air with a room full of amazing people.

Paul: Tackling the Australian Christian Lobby and Margaret Court in a few interviews. Also hearing the important stories the LGBTI community have to offer.

What guests to recall being on the program?

Dean: For me, too many to remember. We had Pride committee members, dancers, singers, bands a huge range of quest and it was fantastic that they supported our community and also we had a chance to support them.

Robin: Honestly I loved interviewing the odd queer locals of Perth more then any big acts. Just that weird local queer flair.

Serika: Ruby Rose, Georgi Kay, Alaska Thunderfuck, Joel Creasey. We have so many more.

Paul: Strykermeyer.

Harriet: Briefs, Telethon Kids Institute, Courtney Act, Chad Michaels, Barbie Q, Alexis Armstrong, Scarlet Adams, Karen from Finance and Ruby Jewels.

If you could tell us about one moment that happened during your time on the show, what would it be?

Dean: Putting the wrong record on, embarrassing as when you pre-announce it and, eeekkk! wrong song!

Paul: I needed the bathroom. I left the desk with a five minute track and didn’t make it back on time. The wonders of community radio. Certainly not my greatest moment. I also remember interviewing former justice Michael Kirby, who was very inspiring. He made me want to continue the conversation of LGBTI rights and also told me how to pronounce my name properly.

Harriet: Interviewing Karen from Finance was hilarious, especially when she informed me that the voice over in her track was actually dialogue from YouTube not herself as I had thought

Robin: Never ever line up a Courtney Barnett song next to a Courtney Act interview. It was my last show and I was a bit emotional and all I could see was the name Courtney in the line up. Played them the wrong way round.

Serika: We received a letter from a teenage listener explaining how they looked forward to tuning into the show every week. They lived in a homophobic house and listening in gave them hope and the stories gave them something to look forward to. It hit us hard! We never know who was listening and reading how much of an impact we were making on this kid made us know we were doing more than just presenting a show.

What kind of music was playing on ATQ while you were on the show?

Serika: Australian alternative indie vibes.

Paul: Disco! And some very arty stuff.

Harriet: I always play Otep.

Dean: All sorts, but mostly the music that was popular in the gay community in the 80’s, as this was a big time for me, and it gave a chance for the younger generation to hear it.

Robin: I loved my queer Fremantle feminist punk. I used to love spinning Abbe May, Axe Girl, Tommyhawks and whoever else I’d recently been drinking with at Mojos at the time.

Any other memories you’d like to share with us – fire away.

Dean: The thing I love the most with the program is brought people together and also it was a chance to let the history of our community know the struggles people had coming out and being part of the community. It was a fantastic medium. If work was not a factor I would love to still be on the show, but unfortunately work has to come first and see the show grow to what it is today is fantastic!

Robin: I just loved how much ATQ was a part of the community. Had so many people just come up and introduce themselves to me because they liked the show.

Paul:  It was great to see the community come together behind RTRFM. I think our first party and second party will remain in my mind forever.

The Radiothon edition of All Things Queer airs at 11am Wednesday. Sow your support for community radio by becoming a subscriber

Image: All Things Queer presenters 2012, Tim Daly, Tim Lanzon, Seika Camilleri, Paul van Lieshout Hunt, Dean Cahill. 

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