Love Affair with Braille leads to Multi-Platform Radio Show

Dunedin woman Julie Woods’ love affair with braille has led to an innovative podcast series, radio show and YouTube resource that takes a fun approach to learning the tactile reading system for the blind and visually impaired. More on that, later . . .

 

The Braille Biscuit Show, a 26-episode series supported by The Blind Foundation, airs at 10am on Tuesdays on Otago Access Radio, with replays on Saturdays at 8am. It is podcast from the station’s website, with YouTube clips of feature braille-education segments available on YouTube.

 

 

Julie, a motivational speaker and coach, is known as That Blind Woman. In 1997, at age 31, she was diagnosed with inflammation of the retina due to an unknown virus which left her legally blind. Preferring initially to focus on computer and speech recognition technology to aid with communication, she turned to braille in 2001.

 

“It was a goal I set myself, to make a positive change, and I quickly fell in love with the code,” she says. “I was reunited with the written word and was able to once again read, this time with my fingers. It was truly liberating.”

 

But it wasn’t just the code that captured Julie’s imagination. The story of Louis Braille, the Frenchman who lends his name to the system of small rectangular blocks that contain tiny palpable bumps, also intrigued her.

 

“Louis Braille lost his eyesight by age 4, due to an accident. At the age of just 15, he developed his code, which has transformed so many lives.”

 

The Braille Biscuit Show includes interviews with visually impaired and sighted people who use the braille system, readings in braille, music from musicians who are blind or have low vision, and quotations from deaf-blind American author and political activist Helen Keller.

 

And Julie has a special companion alongside for a programme segment that explains the braille system.

 

The Braille Biscuit Monster, a hand puppet with an appetite for the chocolate biscuits Julie uses to spell out each letter of the alphabet, makes appearances in weekly audio and video features of the show.

 

“Braille is for young and old,” says Julie. “And braille is fun. I’m looking forward to introducing listeners to braille, and to the story of the young French boy who made an impact on the world. That’s inspiring, because we all have the potential to make a positive impact on the world but I don’t think we often see ourselves in that way.”

 

Click here to listen to podcasts from this show

Education Focus for Pacific Island Radio Show

A new talkback radio programme aimed at Dunedin’s Pacific Island communities is focusing attention on education issues.

Otago Access Radio show Talanoa Tok Tok Pacific is coordinated by staff from the University of Otago’s Pacific Island Centre and is broadcast on Monday evenings as part of the station’s Connecting Cultures Zone.

Centre manager Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai said the programme would provide a platform for parents and students to discuss the challenges facing tertiary and secondary students from Pacific Island communities, and to celebrate their successes.

“Most of our Pacific students at Otago have come away from home, away from mum and dad, and are learning to be independent. It’s hard, but we need to acknowledge the support they are getting from our communities and our churches.

“The more we share, the more we discuss, we can understand that it is not just them that face these challenges and we can help our students succeed.”

There were currently more than 800 Pacific students enrolled at Otago University, which adopted a Pacific Strategic Framework in 2013 in realisation of a commitment made in its charter to meet the needs of Pacific peoples.

“We want to lift the performance of Pacific students. If we have successful graduates going out to work in our communities, it will help lift them socially and economically,” Tofilau Nina said.

National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) processes would be explored and Talanoa Tok Tok Pacific would also report on events of wider interest to Pacific communities, such as local fundraisers, concerts and public meetings. Listeners would be encouraged to phone in with comments and questions on any subject of interest to Pacific peoples.

“The word talanoa means the sharing of views, so that’s what our programme is about.”

Talanoa Tok Tok Pacific airs every Monday from 6pm on OAR 105.4FM and 1575AM, and is streamed live and podcast from www.oar.org.nz.

Brain Health Focus of Radio Show

Brain health and support for those living with a neurological condition is the focus of a new programme on Otago Access Radio.

Fortnightly show Head Space is presented by the Otago Neuro Interest Group, comprising representatives from Alzheimer’s Society, Brain Injury Association Otago, Epilepsy Otago, Stroke Foundation, MS Otago and the University of Otago Brain Health Research Centre.

Alzheimer’s Society Otago manager Julie Butler said the group formed out of the desire of member organisations to provide information and education to people in the wider Otago region.

“With the complexities involved with understanding brain injury and disease, memory loss or neuropathic pain, how and where to get information can be overwhelming at the time of diagnosis.

“We recognised our resources were being squeezed. By combining resources and working together, we hope we can reach more of our community than we ever have before.”

Head Space was a forum for member organisations to talk in plain language about the services they offered, to air conversations about brain health and research, and to publicise public events and seminars. The show added to the “education toolbox” that included the Mega Brain inflatable walk-through exhibit that had proved popular with children and adults alike during Brain Awareness Week in March.

The brain was the most important organ in the body, Ms Butler said, but many people were “blasé” about brain health.

“If you think about all the health messages we’ve received over the years, everything seems to be pretty much from the neck down, with the exception of oral health.

“People tend to think that because the brain is surrounded by this thick skull, it’s quite safe, when in fact it isn’t. It’s amazing how easily it can be damaged.”

Head Space airs every second Tuesday at 12.30pm on OAR 105.4FM and 1575AM, and live and podcast fromwww.oar.org.nz.

Photo: Brain power: Neuro Interest Group members (L to R) Lynne Stewart (Epilepsy Otago), Julie Butler (Alzheimer’s Otago), Cathy Matthews (Brain Injury Otago) and Dr Louise Parr-Brownlie (Brain Health Research Centre) present Head Space on Otago Access Radio.


 

Radio Show on ABC’s of Conscious Living

Dunedin-based clinical psychologist Dr Kumari Valentine has created a radio series around the power of choice.

Otago Access Radio show The Conscious Adventurer was intended to help listeners become more aware of their thoughts, actions and behaviours, Dr Valentine said.

“I really believe that we’re at a time when more and more people are wanting to think about their choices. So we talk about the ABC’s of conscious living – becoming aware and attentive, ‘being’ rather than thinking; and conscious, compassionate choices.”

The show’s title encouraged listeners to view as an adventure the things in life that might otherwise be considered a struggle or challenge.

“We can go into these situations with openness and curiosity. How we see things affects how we respond and react to them.”

Dr Kumari’s PhD and clinical work explored rumination, a form of brooding that acted “like yeast to dough” for those who were prone to over-analysing their problems. That led to an interest in mindfulness, a mental state achieved by focusing awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

Radio complemented the online and CD resources Dr Valentine was creating to support her clients, and anyone else with an interest in conscious living.

“I’m on radio because I strongly believe there is a message that I feel drawn to be part of, which is about being aware and compassionate, being gently with ourselves, with each other and with our planet.”

The theme for last month’s episodes of The Conscious Adventurer was Food Conscious July, focusing on food choices and becoming more “food-aware”.

The Conscious Adventurer airs Tuesdays at 12pm on OAR 105.4FM and 1575AM, and live and podcast from www.oar.org.nz. Replays go to air Fridays at noon.

Photo: Making compassionate choices: Dr Kumari Valentine, pictured here with son Ant, hosts The Conscious Adventurer on Otago Access Radio.

Search On For Specialist Music Shows

Otago Access Radio is welcoming anyone with a love of music to share their enthusiasm with the station’s listeners.

Specialist music shows carried by the community access station range from folk and roots music to baroque opera and Swedish metal, providing for a range of tastes outside the mainstream. Volunteer broadcasters create programmes that reflect their own knowledge, interests and collections.

Station manager Lesley Paris said jazz and rock genres were well represented in OAR’s current schedule but the station was keen to broaden its base of specialist shows.

“Up until recently we had an excellent programme focusing on women writers and performers – it would be great to find a show that explored that further. And I feel sure that there are fans of blues and classical music who could create really entertaining and informative shows.

“You don’t have to be an expert. You just have to enjoy sharing the music you love, and put some time and energy into developing a great show.”

Douglas MacMillan, host of Celtic World (Sundays at 2pm), said his programme was designed to promote the dissemination of Celtic cultures through music “at times framed in a historical, linguistic, social or political context”.

“Whether through nature or nurture, Celtic music speaks to my soul, at once calling me to distant shores and, wherever I am, grounding me in a place that feels like home. I’m really grateful that Otago Access Radio is here to provide an opportunity for amateur broadcasters like myself to create programming.”

Rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll aficionado Warren Voight, host of 360 Degrees ’Round Wazrock (Saturdays at 3pm), said his passion was for uncovering the influences on well-known acts such as the Beatles.

“Over the last six years with my show, I’ve been enthusiastic to have free licence to express my take on the history of popular music, and to feature my favourite artists and songs.

“I’m looking forward to future series on glam-rock greats and Kiwi artists.”

Otago Access Radio broadcasts on 105.4FM and 1575AM, and online at www.oar.org.nz. If you would like to find out more about making your own radio show, please call the station on 471 6161 or email community@oar.org.nz.

Loving the Lifestyle on the Taieri

You would be hard pressed to find a man more proud to be living on the Taieri Plain than Regan Horrell, who has channelled has passion for Mosgiel lifestyle into a weekly radio programme.

Otago Access Radio show The Plain Life finds Regan behind the mic every Tuesday afternoon, talking with Taieri residents, sportspeople and officials about events and issues of the day.

A background in journalism had stood Regan in good stead for the interview segments on the programme, most of which are live-to-air and others of which are recorded at shops, businesses and meeting places on the Taieri.

“I’m a people person so while making radio is challenging, exciting and a little bit terrifying, it’s an absolute buzz and I’m really enjoying it,” he said.

“It’s a platform for giving the community a voice. People are already coming up to me and saying, you need to talk with this person, they’ll be really great.”

Mosgiel was a welcoming community that had suffered the loss of some important businesses but had much to offer.

“There are a lot of people choosing to live on the Taieri for personal and lifestyle reasons, and the population is growing. The Dunedin City Council’s own plan identifies it as an area for growth and development.

“But there is something of an ‘us and them’ mentality with people who talk about living all the way over the hill.”

Programmes to date had included interviews with Mosgiel soccer stalwart Steven Brennsell and Taieri Community Facilities Trust chair Irene Mosley, and discussion about the future of the Festival of the Plain.

Regan, who wrote and recorded a song Loving The Lifestyle about his home territory, said local musicians would also feature on the programme.

“And not just country music – there are some amazing musicians out there, from high school students to buskers.”

The Plain Life airs Tuesdays at 5pm on OAR 105.4FM and 1575AM, and live and podcast from www.oar.org.nz and iTunes.

Jeff Harford
Community Liaison – OARFM

First-time Broadcasters in Safe Hands

They say there’s a first time for everything and for many of Otago Access Radio’s 180 volunteer broadcasters, their first training session is a novel experience that comes with a few nerves.

Those collywobbles soon settle when they realise that the station’s studio engineer Geoff Barkman knows exactly how to ease a novice radio host into the role.

It also helps that trainee broadcasters initially practise off-air, says Geoff.

“It’s kind of like being in a flight simulator. You can operate the console as if it were a live broadcast but it isn’t going to crash if you hit the wrong button.”

Geoff has been training people from a wide ranges of backgrounds, ages and abilities in all aspects of the station’s studio functions for the past nine years and has enjoyed watching the transformation each person goes through.

“Most people get the hang of things after a couple of sessions and then it’s just a matter of practising until the mechanics of the desk become second nature. After that, they can relax and really enjoy themselves.”

Station staff work with any group or individual wishing to create their own show, providing expertise and support and encouraging each programme to become self-sufficient. While most Otago Access Radio broadcasters are trained in announcing and microphone techniques alongside operating the broadcast console, others focus on production aspects only.

Dunedin Multi-Ethnic Council vice-president Lina Lastra, who is currently in training to present a Spanish-language programme, says Geoff’s patience and calm demeanour have enabled her to relax.

“For me, it’s a massive boost to my confidence because I have never done this before and never dreamed to do it. Now that I’m given the chance, it’s a fantastic opportunity.

“I’m very passionate about sharing my culture, so this is like a dream come true.”

Photo: Practice makes perfect: Otago Access Radio studio engineer Geoff Barkman trains volunteer broadcaster Lina Lastra in the operation of the station’s studio console.

Radio Show Navigates Social Media ‘Minefield’

To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question. Or perhaps one of many questions, for those who find the world of social media mystifying.

Help is at hand, with Otago Access Radio show Social Media Savvydelivering a practical, plain-language guide for small-business owners and individuals on making the most of websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or participate in social networking.

Programme host Darryl Baser said social media could be a minefield for the uninitiated.

“Security is often a concern for people, particularly around keeping children safe in their use of the Internet.

“And making good decisions about promoting businesses, products and events can be tricky. I try to steer people clear of sponsored posts, as many social media users know it’s just another advert.”

The radio show complement Darryl’s role as owner-operator of Baser Social Media.

“I’ve loved radio since my days as a volunteer with student radio in the early nineties, and working recently for RNZ reignited my love of the airwaves.

“Being on Otago Access Radio helps validate my business. It also adds another dimension to what Baser Social Media can provide, as I can invite clients to be guests on the show to talk about their services and their experiences of using social media to their advantage.”

Darryl supplements his programme with music, primarily from New Zealand artists. Earlier this year, he released an album of his own compositions, titled Raw Selfie.

“Being a member of the Dunedin music fraternity, I’m a passionate fan of many of the bands that continue to spring up from these fertile soils.”

Social Media Savvy airs Fridays at 2pm on OAR 105.4FM and 1575AM, and live and podcast from www.oar.org.nz and iTunes.

Listen to recent episodes of Social Media Savvy [Here]

Art Auction 2016

Otago Access Radio’s Art Auction
Wednesday 23rd March, 6pm

Community Gallery, 20 Princes Street
70-plus works on display from Saturday 19 March 2016
Gallery Hours 10am – 5pm

 

Art-lovers will be spoilt for choice when Otago Access Radio and the Otago Community Broadcasters Society auction more than 70 works by local artists at the Dunedin Community Gallery on Wednesday 23 March at 6pm.

An exhibition of all works will open on Saturday 19 March. Gallery hours 10am-5pm from 19 March – 23 March.

The auction is a fundraiser for Youth Zone radio programmes made by, for and about young people aged 8-22 years.

Contributing artists include Ewan McDougall, Jeffrey Harris, Heather Dunckley, Janet de Wagt, James Robinson, Manu Berry, David Corbalis and many other established practitioners.

Their works will be complemented by pieces from emerging artists, including four from Studio 2 and the Margaret Freeman Gallery, where disabled people are supported to create, exhibit and sell artworks.

All are welcome and book bids will accepted. An exhibition of all works will open on Saturday 19 March at 10am.

Oil Free Otago Takes To Airwaves

Oil Free Otago Radio – Wednesdays, 1pm

Local climate justice group Oil Free Otago has taken to the airwaves in an effort to inform the public about the impacts of ongoing deep sea oil exploration off our coast.

Oil Free Otago Radio, which airs on Otago Access Radio on Wednesdays at 1pm, is hosted by Rosemary Penwarden, who has been a spokesperson for the group since joining in 2011.

Ms Penwarden said Oil Free Otago was concerned about the lack of public information about oil exploration activity currently taking place, and about “misinformation and PR spin” that was creating confusion about what oil companies, Government and the Dunedin City Council had in store for the region.

“There are a lot of promises of prosperity and jobs, which, when you look closely, are very dubious,” she said.

“The other side of that is we have the skills, the people and the know-how right here in Dunedin to be a leading light in renewable energy and sustainability.”

Seismic surveying was of most immediate concern to the group.

“Right now, off our coast there are two very large, very powerful 3D seismic vessels ploughing through our ocean and sending 260 decibel explosions down into the seabed. It’s very scary, and we don’t know what damage they are doing to our sea creatures.

“We do know that we’ve got a very special part of the world here that is worth protecting. That’s a very big motivation.”

The radio show would feature interviews with experts in climate change science, including former University of Otago Energy Studies director Assoc Prof Bob Lloyd, as well as representatives of other local groups working towards a low-carbon future.

Oil Free Otago also hoped to introduce members of Seniors Climate Action Network (SCAN) to younger people keen to carry the torch on climate change issues.

“SCAN are very interested in passing on practical skills that will help us all adapt to the changes that are coming,” said Ms Penwarden.

“I’d love to bring some young people in and get them to tell the older ones what they need.”