Women in Radio: Rosy Ross [Threads Radio]
Concluding our Women in Radio series is Threads programme coordinator Rosy Ross. Based in London, Rosy founded an open decks called There's Been A Mix-Up, as well as holding a residency on AAJA. Dip in as we chat about her journey into radio and how you can get involved.
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.
Firstly, can you introduce who you are and what your role is at Threads Radio?
I'm Rosy Ross (she/her). I have radio shows on Threads and Aaja, and run an open decks club called TBAM (There's Been A Mix-up), particularly for new DJs who haven't yet had much chance to play out - sadly on hiatus. I found Threads because I was searching for a local radio station to host a show for Headway East London (a charity supporting local brain injury survivors), where I work. Co-founders Freddie (Sugden) & Lee (Fagan) offered Headway a slot, and asked if was interested in volunteering as a producer. I jumped at the chance - to meet people, learn from other DJs, hear new music and be more active in the local music scene. I now manage Wednesdays on stream 1 - coordinating the programme, with a team of other volunteers.
Where did the idea to start Threads Radio come from and how did you get involved?
Threads was founded by Freddie and Lee, who wanted to provide a platform for local people, music and ideas that deserve more recognition. Their friends at The Cause had space above the club to rent, and that's where the studio was built.
Were you intimidated by a very (white) male dominated presence in the radio and music industry?
Not at Threads, but in the music industry as whole, yes sometimes. It is discouraging to be underrepresented in all areas of the industry, and quite often overlooked and underpaid. The stories that surface, particularly those involving sexual harrassment and bullying, are really distressing - the weight of this awareness and any personal experiences can be too heavy. I found it particularly helpful to join collectives and events run by and for women, female-identifying and non binary folk. These are spaces in which you don't need to wrestle with any feelings of intimidation or inferiority - often imagined or anticipated unnecessarily, but no less stressful for that. I've met so many great people this way who inspire me and have always offered support and encouragement. Again, if there isn't anything local, or for your particular interest, why not set up your own collective?!
Is there a specific aim of the station?
Threads aims to connect independent artists, collectives and organisations in Tottenham with those in other neighbourhoods all over the world - and bring them new audiences. There is a definite focus on music, and nearly all the volunteers are DJs, musicans and/or music producers. We also broadcast current affairs shows and journalism, radio plays, spoken word, investigations into film, panels and other types of discussion - proposals for all types of show are welcome. Threads is located in a sprawling metropolis, and there's so much creativity. Personally, I think the message is maybe more of a question: What is exciting or inspiring right now? What deserves to be known by more people?
How important has a female/ non binary presence been in shaping Threads Radio? Do you believe there is enough of this presence?
Not yet. We'd love to hear from you. Threads is still shaping, and there should be more female and non-binary people on the volunteer team contributing to that. We have been welcomed, but there are less of us.
Any tips you would give to women/ non binary people who are looking to get involved with radio?
We need you - don't hesitate! Get in touch with a local station which broadcasts stuff you like - pitch them a show idea, offer to volunteer, ask if you can shadow someone to see how it all works. You'll meet people, make friends, maybe find a mentor. If there's nothing for you in the vicinity, you can (quite) easily and cheaply set up your own online station - for example using radio.co or Mixlr. Get friends involved, invite guests, platform people and causes you admire - radio is about building community.
Has COVID meant that you can't use the studio currently? How has moving from a physical space to an online space been? What challenges have you faced?
The studio is sadly closed at the moment - I miss the energy of being there so much, but we have coped with remote operations pretty well. We re-organised the volunteers so that we have a senior producer managing for each day of the week, with a supporting team. We've learned to be more efficient, and the programme has continued to develop - we've hosted takeovers from collectives across the country and further afield, and worked with local organisations and creatives to mark special occasions such as Black History Month, London Pride and Windrush Day.
The challenges are keeping up the momentum and sense of community among show hosts and volunteers without much face to face contact. It's a bit like at work - when tasks are reduced to mainly you and the computer, it's hard sometimes to feel that buzz of excitement I also have several great friendships that were developing and had to be put on hold, and there are people I've not even met in person yet cos they got involved during one of the lockdowns!
How have you managed to keep a sense of community through your online space?
Instagram is great for complementing the audio content. Zoom meetings and messaging threads mean hosts and producers keep in touch and can troubleshoot each other's technical/admin issues - nothing too original! The restructure meant that most volunteers are working with the same shows and in the same teams, and that has definitely built up stronger relationships, and given each day its own identity. We'd love the chat room to pop off more, though.
Roughly how many shows do you have on the station? What's the ratio like between male and women/nb hosts?
There are 250+ shows on stream 1 and 100+ on stream 2 - I'm not familiar with all of them, but I do know that Wednesday stream 1, which I manage, is not balanced enough, because I counted recently! The diversity of hosts is taken into account across the whole programme when show proposals are considered, so this imbalance will be gradually corrected. There's obviously no lack of talent or passion among those who are underrepresented, but we are aiming for intersectional diversity so ethnicity, race, age, experience and other things come into it, not to mention the radio content itself and what time of day or week would be appropriate.
And finally, what's your future vision of the station?
Personally, I can't wait until Threads can host events again - being situated above The Cause has been amazing for that, and we also did stuff at other wicked venues like Dalston Superstore and Grow Tottenham, among others - not to mention pop-ups in other countries, including Macedonia and France. It's really nice to see favourite show hosts IRL and meet the people who've been tuning in to the same shows as you. We'd love to open up a second studio room so that there is equipment available for the community to practise, learn and pre record while a show broadcasts next door; hopefully we'll find a way to fund this in the near future.
Threads has provided so much opportunity for people who (like me) were new to radio - producing, hosting and DJing - and I've met people involved in all sorts of interesting projects with varying levels of experience and expertise. I hope Threads' accessibility and diversity will encourage people to pursue their creative dreams, and that the radio builds a reputation as a platform for life-affirming radio content and supporter of artists and community projects. I also hope it will cultivate strong relationships with creatives outside of the UK, via our international stream and collaborative events - especially post Brexit.
For more from Threads Radio follow the links below: