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RTRFM’s annual subscriber drive Radiothon runs from this Friday, August 11 to Sunday, August 20. X-Press Editor HARVEY RAE spoke to Chris Wheeldon, the station’s Operations, Events, Volunteer and Marketing Manager, who’s been involved with RTR for 12 years and on the full time staff for six. He’s also the Radiothon Coordinator, so the perfect man to answer the hard questions. In addition to sharing the love for your local communtiy station and subscribing to Radiothon this year, get on down to the killer Radiothon party featuring 20 acts spread across four venues: The Bird, Ezra Pound, the State Theatre Centre Foyer & Studio Underground and Tetsuo featuring Boat Show, Original Past Life, Puck, Reef Prince and many more this Saturday, August 12.

It’s RTRFM’s 40th birthday this year, why is Radiothon more important than ever in 2017?

I think every year is important as each year we move into another realm for the station, more listeners and more people who want to be involved but this year is really special, because for a not for profit arts organisation to survive that long and not only survive but continue to thrive is pretty bloody impressive. Some would argue that RTRFM has always been a beacon in Perth, during the so called Dullsville days RTRFM was there showing Perth listeners what was going on in their town and with their music. As the idea of being ‘alternative’ has become more and more commercialised we have managed to stay weird and continue to show the people of the Perth the best parts of the state and the country while still staying strong to a sense of independence.

For me, not only as a staff member but as a Perth person, the things we enjoy and love now would not exist or be in place without the support of RTRFM throughout the years. We were supporting Fringe World and pop up bars well before other media organisations decided it was the cool thing to do. RTRFM is a bedrock of culture in Perth and the fact we have been doing it for 40 years is pretty special.

This year’s theme is Share the Love. Other than the obvious connotations of why that phrase applies so well to Radiothon, what are the origins of this years theme?

It actually came from something Rok Riley said on her show Full Frequency (Fridays) one afternoon. She was talking about her parents and how important it is to continue to spread the love in your heart and share it around. She mentioned how lucky she was to be able to do that every week through music and talking on a radio station that means so much to her and others in Perth. Spread the love was a bit hard to convey but Share the Love was easy. It is very much about sharing your love of the things that make you happy as both a listener and a broadcaster and making sure we can continue to do it.

Radiothon is all about that community spirit of getting involved and supporting your local community, but there’s also lots of reward for those that subscribe in the way of prizes! What are some of the biggest and best prizes this year – and also some of the more interesting daily and niche prizes that clever subscribers might have a better chance of winning?

All the prizes are pretty special but we have a couple of solid gold ones this year. We are pretty committed to making sure people are aware of their environment so the first prize of Solar Panels and an electric bike is pretty special. One of my faves is a daily prize in which we are sending someone off to brew a special beer with the head brewer at our best mates Feral. That beer will then become part of their brew pub series…

Everyone who donates a prize really does help us out and there is very little prompting them to do so… they do it to support us and we love them for it.

What else do subscribers to the station receive?

Apart from a radio station, our standard subscribers get discounted tickets to our events throughout the year and discounts around town at a number of different businesses. Our gold and platinum subscribers get themselves free entry to most of our events throughout the year, including In the Pines, Fremantle Winter Music Fest and a whole heap more. Gold subs also get themselves a super limited edition golden key-ring to be picked up at the station.

What about subscribing – how can readers of X-Press get involved and share the love with RTRFM?

Couple of ways… they can head to our website and subscribe online, they can also call us on 9260 9210 anytime from now to get themselves involved. We have a team of over 130 volunteers ready to take their calls in legendary phone room. If they are feeling super friendly they can come and see us in person and have a chat at the station, upstairs at 642 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley.

The massive Radiothon party happens this Saturday night and it’s a doozy taking over the The Bird, Ezra Pound, the State Theatre Centre Foyer & Studio Underground, as well Tetsuo up the street. Who are some of the must see acts at what is always a killer event?

I’m super excited to see Cold Meat and all the bands at the Studio Underground at the State Theatre Centre. It is super cool to put bands in a space that isn’t really designed for it. Looking forward to Reef Price and Jooshi Mango’s set. Plus Captain Oshi and Nicole Filev are two super exciting DJ’s Ive been meaning to check out. Everything at The Bird will be amazing. Grievous Bodily Calm and Ryan Beno are super exciting and are just the most incredible musicians.

I always love checking out Original Past Life, Dr Adam Trainer is such a presence and their drummer Mike is something special. Cold Meat, PUCK, Last Tuneless and Kopano will be really cool. I deliberately booked a younger line up as a nod to the future of the station and where the WA Music scene is heading.

RTRFM has been pulling out all the stops for the 40th anniversary of the station this year. What else have you got in the pipeline you can tell us about?

Plenty of things… I am in the final throws of putting together a huge gig for the station in November at the Perth Concert Hall, The Big 40. I can’t reveal too much but it will be something completely different to what we have done before and will be something to remember. We also have a exhibition about the history of the station at the State Library in November which has been curated by former Music Director Dr Adam Trainer, seeing that come together has been amazing. We will also be celebrating 35 years of Drastic on Plastic as part of the Fremantle Festival in October and celebrating the history of Full Frequency in September… a couple of other things are going around in my brain as well.

Finally, we’re living in tough times economically post-boom in WA, and RTRFM isn’t immune, but neither are listeners and the broader community. Understandably, that makes it harder than ever to find that extra bit of disposable income to support your local community. What would you say to people doing it tough – how can they still get involved and share the love this Radiothon?

We understand that WA is doing it tough at the moment but one thing that makes the tough times great is that you have an outlet for you anger or distrust of the norm. RTRFM is that outlet for a lot of people and without it the outlook of Perth would be even bleaker. Things are tough but they have been before and we need to make sure that when things turn around we have a strong, music, culture and arts sector to make sure we can enjoy the good times. I said it above but without RTRFM for the last 40 years Perth would be a very different place, we hope and want people to come with us for the next 40 years.

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