Women in Radio: Hannah O'Gorman [Steam Radio MCR]
Our celebration of women working behind the scenes in radio continues. This time we chat with Hannah O'Gorman, the Programme Director of the newly erected Steam Radio MCR who are about the open up their physical studio at The Old Abbey Taphouse. Lots of fantastic tips about how to get involved in radio here.
Last month we also put together a piece from all the women we interviewed about radio looking at how we can tackle the under representation of minority groups in radio. Find that HERE.
Hey Hannah! Firstly, can you introduce who you are and what your is role at Steam Radio MCR?
Hello! My name is Hannah O'Gorman and I'm the Programme Director at Manchester based community station, STEAM Radio. My background is actually in philosophy but I've been obsessed with the Manchester music scene since my early teens and got into radio at uni as a way of showcasing some of the weird and wonderful tunes being played in the city. Since then I've produced a range of alternative music/talk shows for MCR Live, Limbo Radio, and Stay Fresh Fest as well as takeovers for stations further from home. Pre-covid I was also promoting gigs under Psychopomp.
These days I present a show at Reform Radio called A Menina Dança (The Girl Dances) where every 2 months I take a trip through the varied musical flavours of my mum's home country, Brazil. I'm also the current manager at Reform's partner label, Rhythm Lab Records.
Where did the idea to start Steam come from and how did you get involved?
My friend Liam started the station under TOAT Radio with The Old Abbey Taphouse pub back in March. It had a listen link on the pub's website and functioned as a place for creatives to come together when they couldn't meet up physically. At the time it was a bit of a free for all with people recording and uploading shows themselves whenever they felt like it so eventually the content fizzled out a little bit. The only person that was still recording and uploading shows every week was actually my dad! He's the one that suggested I approach The Old Abbey and offer to take on the people management aspect of the station so that his show, OG OR MAN, would have a bit more company on the schedule. I was welcomed onto the station in September 2020 and we rebranded to STEAM Radio in October with myself managing the schedule and the creators, Liam keeping our tech and playlists running smoothly, and the Old Abbey directors, Frankie and Ella, supporting us with all sorts! We relaunched with a socially distanced, livestreamed, DJ night in The Old Abbey's outdoor festival tent and you'll be happy to hear that OG OR MAN is now joined by 40 other resident DJs and presenters as well as a dozen or so guests every month!
Were you intimidated by the very typically (white) male dominated industry that firstly radio is, and secondly the music industry is?
I was a bit when I was first getting into it. When women and nb people try to learn a new skill a common worry is that people might attribute their mistakes to the fact that they're not a man. It puts a lot of pressure on us to be twice as good and know twice as much as the men to feel the same level of confidence. It also makes it harder for us to ask questions out of fear of embarrassment. Linking up with as many other women in the industry as possible has really helped me to get over that self-doubt. It can seem like men know so much more than you but it's just because they often walk around with 0 anxiety about messing something up. No one's great at anything when they first start so make mistakes and have no shame! How else are you going to learn?
How important has a female/ non binary presence been in shaping Steam Radio?
It's essential! For one thing the station would be incredibly boring if all of the content only came from one type of person and as a station with an emphasis on activism, we have to provide a platform for a multitude of voices to hear about issues that need confronting.
Any tips you would give to women/ non binary people who are looking to get involved with radio?
Be enthusiastic and put yourself out there! It really does help with making connections, and finding opportunities to learn and create is much easier if you start building a network. Facebook groups like The Beatriarchy are a good place to start reaching out to people.
Don't be afraid to ask questions! Don't ever feel embarrassed to ask how to do something. Whoever you're asking had to learn at some point too and you'll find that the vast majority of people are really friendly and up for helping. If they're not, you don't wanna know them anyway!
There's no need to wait for a station to pick you up to start making radio shows. Make yourself a Mixcloud or Soundcloud page and start giving it a go from home! Free software, like Reaper or Audacity, is a good place to start.
How have you developed a sense of community through just an online space?
I stuck all our residents and past guests in a Facebook group and kept nudging them to make friends like an annoying mum!
Seriously though, it has been a really nice way to get people interacting! It gives us a space to ask questions, share knowledge, and collaborate. It also helps me to get input from the community about what they'd like to see from the station which is really important when it comes to making STEAM feel like a cohesive radio station rather than a series of individual podcasts, even though we operate remotely. It does seem like it's going to be a while still before we can get everyone together for a shindig so we're starting to look into doing some Zoom workshops and meet ups. What a time to be alive!
Roughly how many shows do you have on the station? What's the ratio like between male and women/nb hosts?
We have almost 40 residents plus regular takeover slots every month. The ratio floats around 50/50 which is where it should be but it's definitely something that has to be monitored. If I have 5 radio slots to fill and take the first 5 submissions after a social media call out, odds are 4 of them will be white men. Differences in privilege mean that fewer women and nb people come forward when we call out for shows so making sure there's equal representation on the station is an ongoing task. Work has to be put in to counteract that inequality so that underrepresented groups see the station as a welcoming space and are encouraged to give radio a go.
How do you choose who features on your station?
Because variety is a really important aspect of our schedule, one of the things I consider when I'm looking at a submission is whether we already have some things that are similar or if the show would be bringing something totally different to STEAM. I also look for enthusiasm as probably the number one thing! If someone gets in touch that's clearly passionate about their show idea and about getting involved with our community then that really makes them stand out. A. because I think it comes through in the content they create and B. because they're more likely to be up for engaging with the community as a whole rather than just sending their show in once a month and forgetting about it.
And finally, what's your future vision of the station?
We're currently finishing off building a radio studio in The Old Abbey Taphouse in Hulme. Our aim is to eventually have a small complex of creative studios where people will be able to collaborate and connect through art, music and activism. We hope to be able to provide a space for people to create and support each other whilst giving back to the local community by running workshops in radio, music, art, and any other skills people are able to share. The Old Abbey Taphouse has established relationships with youth workers, local residents, and community leaders through creative and activist projects, and by providing pay-as-you-feel meals throughout the pandemic. I'm hoping to carry on that work through STEAM Radio so we can grow those connections and our offering to our community.
Big thanks to Hannah for chatting to us, you can find Steam Radio's socials & get in touch below: