After an unscheduled pandemic hibernation, Edmonton’s longest-running queer and trans radio show Gaywire is back on the airwaves (and in podcast feeds).
A staple on campus and community radio station CJSR since the 1980s, the show has been rebooted with a new format and a brand new team of seven volunteer producers who just completed a three month long Podcast Bootcamp online.
When Gaywire first debuted in the 1980s, it was one of the only ways queer folks in the Edmonton area could get informed about what was happening in their community. Listeners from out of town would drive up to the Edmonton city limits on Thursdays nights just to pick up the signal and listen safely in their cars.
In 2021, there are more opportunities to connect online, but the need to hear what’s happening locally persists. Gaywire’s new producers are all high school and university students, and they’ve also felt the loss of the physical venues for queer and trans youth taken away by the Covid-19 pandemic. They’re hoping to build a welcoming environment on the airwaves for listeners to feel like they’re hanging out on the couch and hearing stories from their friends.
The bootcamp was made possible by financial support from the Community Radio Fund of Canada. Since the end of January, the team has been running through intensive weekly training with CJSR staff over Zoom to learn everything from recording remotely and editing audio to building segments like “I Shoulda Known” and a reboot of Gaywire’s queer radio soap opera, Lavender Towers.
Kaden Peaslee, 16, is the youngest graduate of the Gaywire Podcast Bootcamp. Kaden says she found it “emotionally uplifting, and encouraging. I have now found my queer adopted family.”
“This bootcamp was lovely, well-paced, informative, and an unexpected source of quality community building while still remaining remote,” says fellow producer Terrence Adams. “I had been interested in podcasts before, but didn’t know where to begin, and this bootcamp not only told me how to begin, but guided us all through the process, now we’ve got a show!”
Shayna Giles, a non-binary Métis audio producer majoring in journalism at MacEwan University, supported the bootcamp as CJSR’s latest Podcast Producer Intern.
“It was an incredibly valuable experience, both as a Queer person and as a young professional,” says Shayna. “It’s a little slice of community, and hopefully that’s something we can offer to others through the podcast.”
“I’ll also add: the bootcamp was a fantastic way to learn about the different aspects of podcasting and the work that goes into making a podcast. I definitely have a better understanding of what it takes to make a good podcast, and am more comfortable actively participating in interviews and when working together in a team towards a common goal.”
Listen to the first episode of the reboot here:
Original music for the show was provided by acclaimed Edmonton-born musician Doug Hoyer and Catherine Hiltz – a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer who’s performed bass with Tegan and Sara and used to be a Gaywire listener herself.
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Chris Chang-Yen Phillips