Art Talk Radio

Over the course of the Yukon Riverside Arts Festival, August 18 and 19, CFYT 106.9 in Dawson City broadcast its first remote live radio programming.

There was a series of three remote shows: a drawing game on Saturday afternoon from the tents on Front Street, a pre-show and coverage of the baseball game on Sunday evening from Minto Park, and later that night, a performance by Whitehorse band Old Time Machine from the Palace Grand Theatre.

The drawing game, Katamari Draw, was hosted by Sackville, New Brunswick artist Lianne Zannier.

She called in from Montreal.

In the tent where her voice was projected, artist Janita Wiersma gave out materials to the participants, while Peter Menzies, the remote technician, co-hosted from the station.

“It made for a very entertaining hour and a half of radio,” says Menzies.

The game progressed over six levels, with Zannier giving instructions, and involved over a half a dozen people in the tent and listeners tuning in from Sackville and Toronto (who later emailed Zannier their completed drawings).

“In the first level you draw this big circle, and there is about a dozen things that you have to sketch,” explains Menzies.

The first level gave the participants 15 minutes to complete the drawings. With each level, there was less time—the final level last- ed one minute—and the subjects became more conceptual (for example, one subject was drawing your teenage self).

Zannier also did interviews with the participants and created a playlist which played throughout the game.

Louise Reimer says she didn’t know what to expect when she arrived at the tent to play the game.

“Zannier speaking over the radio was a bit like a preformance. And at the end you emerged with this drawing,” says Reimer.

“It was cool how Lianne would talk about her drawings, and Peter would talk about his drawings, so you were imagining all these other people doing the same thing, and it reminds me of the Golden Age of radio when everyone would be gathered around the radio participating in this auditory event.”

On Sunday, visiting artist Zachary Gough hosted Peanuts & Crackerjack at the ballpark.

Gough set up in the bleachers and invited the audience to chime into the commentary.

The broadcast spanned three hours.

The radio’s presence at the festival was pushed festival co- ordinator Matt Sarty. Gough and Zannier both share a Sackville connection with Sarty, from living and going to university there.

What came of the broadcasts is the intriguing part for Menzies.

“The three different projects was in itself interesting to do, but the fact that the radio station had a presence throughout the whole arts festival… my interest is how people percieved the radio station, the radio show that doesn’t fit into the nice box about what art is,” says Menzies.

“It was good for me to be pushed a little bit in terms of what was going on there. The first question of: is it art? [It pushed me to see] broadcast media as more of an art form instead of just straight entertainment or communications.

“And secondly, it is all spontaneous, so [Gough] didn’t know who was going to be the guest in terms of volunteer commentators.”

Zannier hopes to return to the radio do the same thing again at next year’s festival. Meanwhile, Gough, who is off to Portland to do his MFA in social practice, looks to return to Dawson do a residency in 2013.

In addition, these remote broadcasts are key to CFYT’s grant to hire a part time station manager in the winter, an application which Menzies fired off last week.

The equipment for remote broadcasting has been at the station for about five years according to Menzies, and taking the radio into the field was as easy as turning on a couple of switches.

“The station has the capacity,” says Menzies.

“From a technical perspective, doing remote radio is quite easy. It’s just on and off sswitchesand volume control from the station.”

CFYT has covered other live events before, such as Thaw di Gras earlier this year over the phone, but not quite to the extent that was done this time.

The broadcasts didn’t go without a few hiccups, such as a problem with the adapter in the first half of the Old Time Machine show which made the volume low. However, after the intermission they were able to fix it and get the volume back to a good level.

“Nobody would have missed anything, but they would have been surprised in the difference in quality,” says Menzies.

It is all part of the learning curve.

“To go to the next level you have to take a leap,” says Menzies.

The baseball game was the only broadcast which was recorded, and what to do with the file (and future files like it) is something that CFYT is working on.

“One of our big questions is what do we do with that—that’s a gigabyte of information—would someone listen to the whole thing, I don’t know,” says Menzies.

“But if someone says I absolutely must listen to that show, they can come see me and I will burn them a copy,” he adds.

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