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.