Yasmin is one of our volunteer assessors who has been working in community radio for over 20 years. This is her story.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am a Melbourne-born woman of Sri Lankan heritage and grew up in Bayside Mentone. I’ve lived most of my adult life in and around the Melbourne CBD, and have also lived in Tokyo and Brisbane.
I’ve been fortunate to have had opportunities to travel far and wide in the world, for work and play, and to meet a wonderfully diverse range of people along the way. These interactions and experiences have had a huge impact on me and on the way I see and do things in my life.
I love all things creative: music, writing, making – I am curious about everything! I am also a DJ and part of Australia’s only all-female reggae soundsystem, Housewife’s Choice. I actually came to DJ’ing through community radio in the late 1990s.
I work in Higher Education, as a program manager, which is very much about connecting people to experiences that enrich their lives. In a way, this is similar to what I do when I’m on-air or behind turntables with a microphone.
How did you become involved in community radio?
In my first year of university, my new best mate spotted a small advertisement in the student news for a workshop in radio broadcasting at SRA FM.
I was super curious as I’ve always been a music collector and love to share my favourite finds with anyone who’s keen to listen. As it turned out, I wasn’t able to attend the workshop myself, but my friend did. She showed me everything she learned during a graveyard shift!
I was hooked. It felt so natural for me to be operating the studio and presenting – as if the studio was an extension of me. I quickly became involved in the station’s programming, first on the committee and then as the Program Manager.
SRA was a test broadcaster and with each broadcast came a new program grid – I really loved the process of putting those grids together. I couldn’t tell you how many demo cassette tapes I listened to. I wrote detailed feedback for each and every applicant and worked late into the night putting the best and most diverse range of shows possible into the grid.
I also got to experiment with a few different shows of my own, before I got hooked on Reggae and Dancehall music. This was mostly by osmosis as the SRA station manager at the time was a young Jesse I, who has since become an undisputed leader in Australia’s Reggae and Dancehall community, and is also the host of PBS FM’s superb show Babylon Burning.
I’m proud to have played a part in shaping the station’s sound, and as part of the SRA executive team when we transformed into SYN FM and won a full-time broadcasting license.
What do you love about community radio?
It’s so real! Behind the scenes, it’s all hands on, like an octopus juggling. But the listener hears music and the clear voice of the presenter like they were always joined together.
Presenting a show is both a great exercise and a great meditation. And these days we have a whole lot of new ways of interacting with our audiences while on-air, which is awesome.
Why did you sign up to be a CBF assessor?
I want to stay engaged with community broadcasting, and to contribute whatever I can in terms of my experience and professional expertise.
Also, as a woman of colour, I want to contribute to the diversity of assessors and to support broadcasters from diverse backgrounds and experiences. There are so many different stories to tell, and through community radio we have the tools to share them widely.
I enjoy helping to facilitate these things and am very grateful to be able to participate in the process.
Interested in becoming an assessor?
Do you want to give back to community media or grow your knowledge of the grants process? Why not become a volunteer grant assessor.