RTRFM: RADIOTHON The X-Press Interview

RTRFM’s annual fundraising drive Radiothon kicks off this week and to celebrate the occasion we had a chat with three of the station’s amazing presenters, DJ Nafta (aka Nafissa Youssouf), Simon Miraudo and Cat Wrangler. As we all prepare to dig deep and help keep alternative radio alive for another year by subscribing or donating, we spoke to these legendary volunteers to get a feel for what drives the community ethos of RTRFM, how it’s helped get them through COVID-19 isolation, and what this year’s theme “There’s No Stopping Us” means to them.

Which show do you do? 

Nafissa Youssouf/DJ Nafta: All City, Up Late and Snooze Button.

Simon Miraudo: Movie Squad.

Cat Wrangler: I’m part of the overnights and Homegrown collectives, so I get to share anything from 4am ambient, ASMR wiggle parties to playing the best and latest music coming out of our beautiful state.

During COVID-19 isolation and beyond, how important has radio been for you to both produce and listen to? 

Nafissa Youssouf/DJ Nafta: During iso I’ve been mainly a listener and tuning in helped me still feel a part of a community even though we’ve all been apart with isolation and with life. Being a part of our radio community is something important to me as being a presenter has led me to meet an abundance of amazing folk and has opened my perspective in different music and knowledge. Listening gave me comfort and hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Simon Miraudo: I’ve been rocking up to RTRFM’s Mt Lawley studios to present a show every week for the past 10 years, so COVID-19 pretty rudely halted one of my absolute favourite things to do. It was a shame to also not get my weekly chin-wag with the other RTR presenters, but it was reassuring to still hear everyone on the air, having recorded remotely, keeping the people of Perth connected even in isolation. Similarly, it was a pleasure to regularly catch up with Tristan Fidler and Taylah Strano, both over the phone and on Zoom, to review films and TV releases like The Last Dance and Tiger King, whether the people of Perth actually needed that too or not.

Cat Wrangler: I love that RTRFM managed to find ways to maintain broadcasting, even during the heaviest stages of lockdown. The presenters and producers all did such a fantastic job, prioritising everyone’s safety, but also stability and continuity for our listeners. I think that’s really important.

“There’s No Stopping Us” this Radiothon. Could you imagine Perth without RTRFM? What if something did stop us?

Nafissa Youssouf/DJ Nafta: It’s hard, to be honest, for me to imagine that as RTR really pushed through isolation with organising presenters to record at home, curate playlists and everything. There is no stopping RTR. With all the uncertainty we really pushed through and showed there will always be a way.

Simon Miraudo: I say it every year, but it’s never been more true or necessary to acknowledge – RTRFM keeps Perth culture alive. As someone who’s been part of this community of champions for a decade, I’ve seen firsthand the positive impact RTRFM has on locals. You’ve probably been to one of their events, or enjoyed a Perth artist who got their start on it, without maybe even realising. The absence of a community radio station doesn’t just mean the end of a broadcasting channel. It would mean the disconnection of thousands. And isolation only proved we’re all better when we’re connected. In fact, we need that community connection more than we realise.

Cat Wrangler: We’d really lose something important to the city. It goes beyond the music we’re broadcasting, which I do love! RTRFM has really important conversations on their talk shows and provides a voice to important people in our community. The station facilitates gigs, celebrates our established and upcoming artists, producers and musicians and creates opportunities for us to party together.

What’s the one thing you missed most while Perth was in lock down? What was the thing you did not miss? 

Nafissa Youssouf/DJ Nafta: I missed having gigs on the weekend, seeing friends out and just being able to go out and have fun. I don’t miss how busy life is post lockdown.

Simon Miraudo: Heading down to Luna Cinemas and enjoying a film on the big screen, with actual, honest-to-goodness, other people, around me. One thing I did not miss was other people talking during the movie. I like them nearby in the cinema, but only when they’re quiet.

Cat Wrangler: I’m a giant nerd for being passively around people. I love gigs, open air markets and community events. That ability to share space with people and just be part of something bigger by osmosis like an introverted fungus. I’m grateful for everyone taking this lockdown seriously, but man, did I miss those things. What didn’t I miss? I’m also a student. Instead of 100 people sweating it out over their notes and calculators in a hall, our exams were all completely online and rewritten as assignments. It was great!

Radiothon 2020 is quite possibly RTRFM’s most important yet. Why should people jump online or on the phone to subscribe, particularly this year?

Nafissa Youssouf/DJ Nafta: This year has been a tough year for us all. We never know what’s going to happen next but one thing that’ll always be there is RTR. We’ve been here during these unprecedented times always hearing a voice or great tunes on the other side. Now we need the help as things go back to normal to continue. We rely on subscribers as we are a community radio station so we can remain a constant in people’s lives.

Simon Miraudo: If people don’t know, Radiothon is responsible for raising 30% of the station’s annual income. The other major chunk of funding comes from live events, which was put at risk by COVID-19. Subscribing or donating supports local music and diverse journalism, and promotes community fellowship while also providing straight up professional media opportunities for its volunteers. Honestly, there are just too many reasons to subscribe, this year, especially, but every year too. They were there for us during iso, so be there for them now!

Cat Wrangler: This whole year has been such an important time to put things into perspective and really prioritise what we love, value and feel passionate about. I love the contribution RTRFM makes to our local arts and music scene, as well as the Perth community in general. We have to support and protect it.