We caught up with Hunt & Darton and their forthcoming Radio Local – Digital, taking the local radio inspired project online to engage with artists and audiences of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, before dates in London in the summer.
Tell us a bit about Hunt & Darton’s Radio Local Digital show:
We have reimagined Radio Local as a digital project – of course we have, radio is a superpower right now!
From the charmingly mundane to the extraordinary to the borderline ridiculous, Radio Local is a celebration of local radio and community. Broadcasting over regional and community radio we are building a show with local people over the phone, via Zoom workshops and through online local networks about the weird and wonderful places they live in and more aptly now – how they are living. Radio local responds to people and place, witnessing this unprecedented time and celebrating peoples boredom. This is hyper-local broadcast to the world.
Streaming live from a Village Hall in Sandon (Darton’s home) and a workshop in Brighton (Hunt’s partner’s carpentry shed!) long live Radio Local as we entertain you with all the usual features of Radio Local re-mastered for an online audience.
You originally toured Radio Local as a live show, what’s different about the new version?
Think banter about subjects such as survival tactics for isolation and boredom busters, The Food review will be us sending key workers a take away to critique, all our live reports will be from the over 70’s- we can’t wait for audio tours of your homes.
As with the best regional and community radio we remain local to the place we reside. We will be joined by local legends who will be sharing the tracks of their life, the dating show will consist of a series of virtual meetings between two strangers in the hope to find love. We will be setting intergenerational family challenges for our feature ‘you can choose your friends, not your family’ such as; DIY obstacle course, toilet paper stacking, or make a piece of ‘Conceptual Art’ collaboratively out of toothpaste tube, and a Scavenger Hunt, plus competitions for all to join in with at home.
Jingle making will get more exciting as everyone is invited to make a jingle with anything around the house e.g. voices, pans, kids instruments, packets of food, door slammin’, all recorded on voice memos and upload to our Radio Local soundcloud.
We’ve already clapped together, exercised en masse, listened to the choirs and had disastrous family meets online and we want more.
What drew you to local radio as a topic?
We toured the UK with our pop up cafe and interactive art installation, Hunt & Darton Cafe for 5 years between 2014-2018. During this time we popped up on the high streets of many local UK towns, weaving ourselves into the fabric of the place, getting to know the locals, making new friends, taking on local politics and providing a space in which people meet and play.
Its from this experience that we became interested in elevating and celebrating local voice. We wanted to shine a spotlight on the untold, unseen, unheard as well as the mundane, domestic, local, eccentricities of human life. We wanted to celebrate community and the power of communities.
We love radio. There’s time and space here like no other medium. It has people at its heart and it elevates both the quiet and the bold. It takes you across a spectrum of emotion
jumping from hard stories to co-hosting antics or from humble gardening shows to war torn countries, from opera to grime and sometimes even without changing the station. It holds music up and shares it with the world on a scale and with a passion that is unbeatable. It breaks through our oversaturated lives offering a space of contemplation and rigour.
Bringing voice, culture, diversity and other worldliness to the building site, the gym, at the doctors, in the public loo, on the campsite, radio fills the airwaves reaching everyone and anyone with a working ear. Radio is a companion to life, for moments of rest, busyness, those times of birthing, dying or waiting or just trying to get through the day, in those times of feeling like your missing out or missing someone, or simply because it provides the backing track to your daily existence. Radio can the most boring of tasks feel sexy, glamorous, providing a rhythm, animating the washing up or the 56 fence panel you’ve had to hammer into the ground that day. Miles of road are made all the more filmic with a ballad to accompany or dance floor filler or documentary about the moon landing.
Last October, Ofcom, which is in charge of the UK’s radio (including the BBC), made a change to the rules that govern commercial local radio’s output. Previously, these so-called “localness guidelines” insisted that any commercial local radio station had to feature at least seven hours of locally made output between 6am and 7pm, and this had to include the breakfast show. After October, such a station only had to feature three hours of local output, and the breakfast show did not have to be included. Local radio is being centralised and local stories central to the lives of local people but that do not matter to London or the world are being cut. This leaves communities with another cultural and informational deficit. Does local radio have a future? I mean everyone wants to curate there own stuff, perhaps live where they don’t belong and have no connection with their own surroundings. We love local radio and think it needs saving and elevating. We hope Radio local goes some way in filling the growing gap between local voice and global information TV has not killed the radio star its just it’s annoying loud older brother.
Can you tell us about some of the guest artists you’re collaborating with?
We commission other artists to make serialised content and join us as guests (remotely of course!). We are looking forward to hearing programmes about the amateur stand up comedy scene in Norfolk, the Organ Festival in Diss, audio postcards from Great Yarmouth, sounds from Golden Lane Estate in lockdown and poetry made from the children of Kings Lynn about their favourite hangouts. Artists include the Radio 4 regular Scottee, social broadcaster Lucia Scazzocchio, the award-winning cabaret duo Bourgeois and Maurice, anthropological theatre maker Vic Melody and surreal double act Odd Comic. There is also a plethora of creative responses in this time of crisis and we want to sign post the great digital work from the festivals we were meant to be part of at the time they would have happened.
How will the artist commissions work and how have you chosen them?
We have invited peers and signposted artists experienced in making socially engaged work and audio works to explore Great Yarmouth, Diss and Kings Lynn and create 6 x 5 mins programmes of pre-record about what they found out. The artists are encouraged to meet with local groups and partners to get an overview of local life/politics/issues/traditions and then form an idea for the serialised programme they will make. We have identified specific demographics we would like each commission to meet including kids in Kings Lynn and the over 70’s in Diss.
In Culture Mile we have commissioned Scottee to explore the Golden Lane Estate- he will be connecting with residents via zoom and committing to daily ‘check ins’ over the course of a week, discussing any changes to health and wellbeing in the current pandemic with the people he meets. Victoria Melody will be celebrating the passions of everyday people in a show titled ‘The Enthusiasts’ asking people to talk for 4 minutes about an interest close to their hearts. Be it pigeon fancying, moustaches, playing the guitar, model boat making, cooking artichokes. Bourgeois and Maurice will take up the role of guest presenter where we highlight some of the best talent in the industry. They will be sharing songs from their back catalogue and bantering about the apocalyptic time we find ourselves in.
Radio Local – Digital Norfolk and Norwich Festival runs 8 to 24 May, details at nnfestival.org.uk 3pm – 4pm, broadcast on Future Radio futureradio.co.uk Highlights will be repeated on BBC Radio Norfolk Monday – Friday.
Radio Local – Digital’s London dates in June, July and August are TBC, please see www.radiolocal.co.uk