Words by Dina Amin
Photography supplied by Triple R
In the spectrum of music support services, radio is an institution that promotes our music, offering airplay, album and gig promo, interviews and live-to-air performances. Presenters, coordinators and volunteers often have multiple roles — roles that extend well beyond designated hours. Daily promoters and sharers of great music, Melbourne’s Triple R FM team provide a range of opportunities both inside and outside the Nicholson street office.
“A lot of the broadcasters and volunteers that are involved in Triple R and community radio stations in general are avid music fans…record shop owners, label managers and booking agents. So if they’re getting excited about music that’s coming into the station they’ll play it, but they’ll also be able to offer musicians other opportunities as well.”
Like a lot of his co-workers at Triple R, Simon Winkler’s role isn’t limited to one service. Despite working full-time as the station’s music coordinator, Winkler also presents Breaking and Entering with Lauren Taylor, a show that focuses on current and forthcoming releases by the globe’s most progressive artists. Whether he’s on air or in front of a computer Winkler is dedicated to the distribution and promotion of music.
As music coordinator Winkler is responsible for making new music accessible. All submissions come directly to Winkler who listens and then makes a decision as to which Triple R show will be most accommodating. “My job is to make sure that the music is appropriate for different programs. I might not enjoy certain releases on a personal level but I will objectively try to get it to people who I think are going to be most interested.”
Dedicated to his role Winkler is extremely approachable, encouraging musicians to contact him via email or phone to organise introductory meetings and consultations. “It’s always a pleasure to see people who want to come in and see the station. It’s kind of an open house here…but given the uncertain nature of each week it can also be good to book a meeting in advance just in case.”
But Winkler is quick to point out that arriving in person is not necessary for musicians wishing to get airplay. “It’s not like someone who comes in (rather than emailing or mailing a submission) is going to get more airplay or attention. Everything is dealt with equally and at the same time if there are any questions there are so many ways to seek the answers and we’re always here to answer them.”
So what does Winkler listen and look for as music coordinator? Quality? Eccentricity? Artwork?
“We’re always impressed by great music, great songs. Whatever the genre really, as long as it’s interesting and well-written.
“We will also be impressed if it’s presented in a way that’s useful for us.”
The useful part is the inclusion of context: press release, gig info, labelling, bio, etc.
“We do occasionally receive great music in CDR form with no labelling or information, so then it becomes a bit of a detective story for us. If it’s accompanied by a one page press release with relevant information – it doesn’t have to be an elaborate story – that’s perfect.”
If submitting CDs artists are encouraged to provide several labelled copies; enabling Winkler to distribute them to multiple shows if appropriate.
“Digital submissions are also particularly useful for us and more so with broadcasters who tend to use a lot of WAVs and MP3s in their shows. Give us a link with downloadable high quality content and a one-page contextual document.
“They say never judge a book by its cover but at the same time something that looks neatly presented with thought and care put into the presentation definitely makes you feel like you want to do the same. And yeah, artwork or no artwork. A non-visual format doesn’t really matter as long as we’ve got all the info we need and the track listing as well.”
Once submitted releases will be listened to and allocated by the following week. Artists can check to see whether their music has been played by either searching for their music on the website, looking up the playlists from various programs or alternatively, getting back in touch with Winkler.
“You want to make sure that everyone feels that their release has been given the appropriate attention and if you (the artist) haven’t heard anything and you want to find out what programs your music was allocated to or if you had any airplay, a follow up email perhaps two weeks later is not a bad idea.
“We log everything in our data base: the volume of CDs, the title, the artist, the programs, contact details. That enables us to provide that information of where it’s gone so that the artist can either get in contact with the individual shows – via their program page – or simply check the playlists.
“If you haven’t heard or seen anything contact a fortnight later and I’ll endeavour to get back as soon as possible. I’ll offer some feedback as well, like it could just be for whatever reason it hasn’t been played because the particular style or gene doesn’t quite fit within any of the shows.”
When it comes to requesting interviews at the station Kate Blanchfield is the go-to-girl. As interviews coordinator Blanchfield is in constant communication with all of the programme presenters, sending through pitches where relevant.
“In the case of music interviews it’s good to send the information (to Kate) ahead. That would give her the best opportunity to read the gig details and/or musical information and forward it to the relevant broadcasters. It’s absolutely fine to come in and introduce yourself, but as far as the process goes, it’ll probably be even quicker to email.
“Kate does a lot of back and forth and tries to achieve an outcome that suits everyone.”
Triple R pride themselves on presenting a wide range of colourful local and international music and the shows in particular validate this motive. O’Tomorrow focuses on underground, forgotten sounds; Teenage Hate is all about the punk, noise and hardcore with a particular focus on Aussie releases; bedroom R&B and hip-hop instrumentals flood Golden Syrup and Twang specialises in all things roots and alt-country. In terms of Australian-specific content, Local and/or General, The Australian Mood and Test Pattern are three dedicated Australian and NZ music programmes offering airplay, news, interviews and live-to-air performances. Winkler is particularly proud of these programs.
“Also a lot of the Drive shows play a high volume of Melbourne music as well as the morning shows: Breakfasters, etc. We’re lucky in Melbourne, having such a rich music scene and being in the prime position here to celebrate that.”
Although artists are encouraged to do their own preliminary research on the various programs before submitting their music, Winkler explains that it’s not a pre-requisite. Some artists may suggest in their one-page contextual document which shows they believe fit their music; others will leave it up to Winkler to decide.
“If you’re making country music for example it would be really helpful to research which shows play that music and come to us with that information…which shows (you think) are going to be most supportive and helpful for you. Having said that you might be so focused on your craft, head down in the studio, not really exposed to any other media. Which is exactly why we’re here…we are here to provide suggestions and support.”
Another thing that Triple R support is the training of eager volunteers and rookie broadcasters.
The station offers regular training courses in broadcasting, which can be viewed and applied for online.
“RMIT has a close involvement with the station and has done since our beginnings. Room with a View is a program on Mondays where local media students (from RMIT) can have a one-hour show.”
Room with a View is run and produced by a rotating roster of RMIT media students.
“There’s also opportunities to be involved in a non-broadcast volunteer capacity, whether it be production, editing of interviews, filming and photography, music library work, sponsorship, live-to-air involvement, etc.”
Lyndal Peake is the volunteers coordinator at Triple R and the best point of contact.
So what are you waiting for? Triple R are an approachable team with ardent coordinators and presenters dedicated to the task of making your music accessible to a like-minded audience.
For more info, head to www.rrr.org.au or contact Simon Winkler directly at email@example.com