RTRFM’s IN The Pines returns to the Somerville Auditorium, UWA, on Sunday, April 19. BOB GORDON talks about it with the station’s new Breakfast presenter, Caitlin Nienaber.
You’ve been in the RTRFM Breakfast presenter’s chair for just over two months now, how’s it treating you?
It’s amazing – I still can’t believe this is my job! It’s such a joy to be able to meet people every day who are doing cool stuff and making this city such a great place to be.
I’ve been really surprised and touched by how welcoming everyone has been. From other RTRFM presenters, staff and volunteers to people I’ve interviewed – they’ve all been checking on me and asking how I’m going. The love from our audience has been the most overwhelming – I’ve had some really sweet phone calls and emails from long-time listeners and people tuning in for the first time. That stuff really makes a difference.
Were you daunted at the prospect of taking over from multi-WAM Award winning 10-year veteran, Peter Barr?
Absolutely. I’m still daunted if I think about it too much! But I’ve had to try and put that doubt to one side and just get on with it – being tired all the time helps!
I really miss hearing Peter on the radio every day, but I’m happy knowing he’s enjoying spending more time with his family and doing new things. He’s been a mentor to me for a long time and still works at the station so I annoy him with lots of questions. If I can one day be even half as good at this job as he was I’ll be stoked.
Had you experienced doing a Breakfast radio shift before?
Only when I used to fill in for Pete back in the day so doing it full-time is new to me. But it’s definitely my favourite timeslot – I’m a bit of a nanna so an early night doesn’t bother me. Last year I worked as a journo at a commercial radio station in New South Wales and it sucked!
What’s your daily routine like given you have to rise so early?
I’m still trying to figure that out. I get up at 4am and head into the station just after 5am and then stick around ’til about midday. I do a bit of prep at home in the afternoon and often fall asleep next to my computer and a pile of ice-cream wrappers.
Being sleep deprived has done weird things to my brain – I once rocked up to work wearing my boyfriend’s jeans. The other day I nearly got refused entry to a flight because I had forgotten to check in.
What’s your personal history with RTRFM?
I started listening to the station in about 2004 after I had Peter Barr as a tutor at Curtin but didn’t start volunteering ’til 2009 when I organised some work experience through uni. I was pretty shy and helped out producing Morning Magazine for a year before actually going on air.
I basically just hung around and filled in on lots of shows… there was a great gastro bug that went around one week back in 2010 where I got to do the news, a Drivetime and present an Out To Lunch.
In The Pines is coming up, what are your memories of this beloved event in previous years?
Felicity Groom’s leopard-print catsuit a few years ago was a pretty big moment for me. I really loved watching Boys Boys Boys! put on an impromptu running man competition on stage in 2012. And I still have a mental image of Mongrel Country’s pig masks that haunts me to this day.
The Rainyard have pulled out, but there’s The Rosemary Beads and The Jangle Brothers (Rainyard/Mars Bastards/Header/JAC members) who have been introduced on the line-up. In recent years there’s been an effort made to reflect on WA music from the past at In The Pines. It’s important, no?
Definitely. We’re so lucky to have so many new and current musicians and artists releasing quality music and putting on great shows, but we need to make sure we give props to all the great bands that came before them. The thriving local scene we have didn’t come from nowhere – it’s taken a lot of hard work from people who are passionate about music in this city.
It’s a great opportunity to discover some amazing music too – a few months ago I had never heard the Rosemary Beads song Breath and now I can’t wait to see it live on stage.
What are some of the bands you’re especially looking forward to?
Don’t make me choose! I’m really looking forward to seeing the Rosemary Beads and the Jangle Brothers for the first time. Rachael Dease’s set will be epic and I’m a bit obsessed with her song All In/All Out. I’ve had a lot of listeners calling up and telling me how good Shit Narnia’s shows are. And of course I’m looking forward to seeing what Felicity Groom will pull out of the wardrobe this year.
I’m also looking forward to getting out and catching up with punters – putting faces to names and meeting listeners – I’d love people to come up and say hello!
Will you be hosting as Barr used to do?
In the spirit of change at RTRFM this year the hosting will be a little bit different from usual. Peter Barr has well and truly hung up his boots in that department and is looking forward to kicking back on the day. I’ll definitely be around for the whole day, but there might be some other people involved too. I won’t give away exactly what’s happening, but it’s going to be fun!
Our front cover tips its hat to The Triffids album, In The Pines, one of the inspirations for RTR’s annual event. While they were more celebrated in Europe than at home back in the day, their presence seems eternal when one thinks of WA music now. What are your thoughts?
I love that album a lot – it’s definitely my favourite Triffids album, but it was released the year I was born so like many people I came to it later on.
I think the Triffids made us feel more comfortable with our ‘West-Australianness’ – they had a unique sound and referenced familiar places while still managing to find success on the world stage. I love hearing musicians reference really specific local things and take that to a wider audience – I think the world needs to hear Shit Narnia’s Claremont Boys.
It’s something that makes me so proud to be involved with RTRFM because we champion our local musicians and give them a platform to develop a sound and style all of their own.
How’s the rest of 2015 looking for RTRFM?
It’s looking good! It’s a really exciting year for us because it does feel like change is in the air and that we’re free to shake a few things up if we want to. Kicking off with the new event, Distant Murmurs, was a great start to the year and there’s more where that came from.
It’s interesting to be back after a couple of years off from the station because it does feel like things have been reinvigorated. I’m looking forward to building the Breakfast show throughout the year and trying lots of new things.
Breakfast With Caitlin airs from 6am-9pm weekdays on RTRFM 92.1. In The Pines happens on Sunday, April 19, at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium and stars Abbe May, Aborted Tortoise, Fait, Gina Williams & Guy Ghouse, Hideous Sun Demon, Husband, Lanark, Maurice Flavel’s Intensive Care, Methyl Ethel, Rachael Dease, The Jangle Brothers, Shit Narnia, Statues, The Wilds, Thee Gold Blooms, Eduardo Cossio Quartet, FelicityGroom, SpaceManAntics, Grim Fandango and The Rosemary Beads. Pre-sale tickets are $20 RTRFM subscribers, $25 general public from rtrfm.com.au, 78 Records, Mills Records and Noise Pollution Records. Door sales (limited) available on the day, $25 RTRFM subscribers, $30 general public.