Womxn in Radio: Grace Lata [Foodhall Community Radio]
In the lead up to International Women's day we will be dropping interviews with some of our favourite women who are working behind the scenes in radio, catching up about the projects they are running, their role within the industry and providing womxn with any tips on how to get involved.
Our second edition comes from the lovely Grace Lata aka Gracie T, who works behind the scenes at Sheffield based station Foodhall Community Radio.
We also put together a piece from all the womxn looking at how we can tackle the under representation of minority groups in radio. Find that HERE.
Hey Grace, firstly can you introduce yourself and what your role is at Foodhall Community Radio?
My name is Gracie, I’m a teacher and DJ living in Sheffield and I run the collectives; The Beatriarchy and Day Timers, as well as Foodhall Community Radio Station. I don’t really have a set role at the station, everyone just volunteers in any way they can!
Where did the idea to start the radio station come from and how did you get involved?
The idea for the station came from Michael Scarborough and Emily Williams, I believe, who ran Airworks - an nighttime event at Foodhall. They reached out through social media to other creatives in the Sheffield music scene who would be interested in starting a station out of Foodhall and I decided to go along to the planning meeting on a whim. There were months and months of planning meetings and it wasn’t until the first lockdown in March that we decided to just launch the station remotely.
The general aim of the station was just to give the community a platform to be creative and showcase their music on the airwaves. We have no limit on genres or content - as long as it does not go against Foodhall’s safer spaces agreement, anything goes! (https://www.foodhallproject.org/safer-spaces)
Were you intimidated by the very typically (white) male dominated industry firstly radio is, and secondly the music industry is?
Yes, very much so! With radio it can be scary being one of the only women in the room, but also being the only person of an ethnic minority background in the room. Over the past year I’ve really had to work on building my confidence to speak out and believe that my ideas are also worth people shutting up and listening to. Sometimes you have to just shout over the mansplainers and covert sexists just to be heard in this industry, which is not easy and requires building up a very thick skin! The music industry is incredibly sexist, homophobic, transphobic and racist. While it’s been great to see a lot of stations, labels and promoters trying to become more inclusive and diverse, if you don’t have someone of that underrepresented demographic in a position of power in your organisation, then you’re still not getting it right.
You are linked with the Foodhall Project charity, how do you work alongside them?
Foodhall is a fantastic multi-award winning community kitchen and public dining space. During the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic their emergency food parcel response fed over 13,000 people in the City, and volunteers gave over 7,000 hours of their time! We uphold the same ethos as Foodhall and most of our radio hosts are Sheffield locals, who have a history of being involved with Foodhall. Pre-COVID, Foodhall was one of the best venues for gigs and electronic music events, so the radio station has really upheld Foodhall’s reputation for music bringing the community together.
How important has a female/ non binary presence been in shaping Foodhall Community Radio?
The presence of femxle and non-binary individuals has been crucial in shaping the station, from the onset the group of volunteers has been very concerned about the male, cis dominated music scene in Sheffield and how we did not want this to be reflected in the station’s rosta. We have found it can be quite difficult to diversify, when the bulk of show applications were coming from straight, white, cis men but we’ve ran several outreach campaigns and used our own individual networks to directly reach out to underrepresented creatives.
Do you believe there is enough female/non binary presence on your station?
No, is the simple answer! There is still an overwhelming bias towards white, male hosts and we are continually working towards making FCR more representative of the amazing femxle talent that is out there.
Any tips you would give to women/ non binary people who are looking to get involved with radio?
Be bold, be persistent and it’s always worth taking a risk, even if you don’t feel good enough! My first experience with hosting radio was through Foodhall and it was so scary but almost a year later I feel very comfortable speaking on radio and I’ve even been interviewed on BBC Asian Network, so it’s definitely worth pushing through your insecurities!
Currently, Foodhall is just an online presence. Do you have plans to expand from an online presence to a physical presence?
That’s right - we’re still running remotely due to COVID and Foodhall moving venue. We do have a studio space in Foodhall, however we have not felt like it was safe or appropriate to start broadcasting from a physical station yet. Over the next year we hope to move into the studio!
How have you developed a sense of community through just an online space?
The core purpose of FCR was to nurture the sense of community that Foodhall cultivates through the cafe, the charity work and the art and music events and bring that energy online through radio. It has been quite challenging running the station with a small pool of volunteers, so we hope to recruit some new volunteers that are interested in getting some experience in producing and radio.
Roughly how many shows do you have on the station and what's the ratio like between male and women/nb hosts?
We currently have 48 shows and 17 of those shows are hosted by womxn or non binary individuals and only 6 are hosted by individuals of Black, Asian or other ethnic minority backgrounds. The bulk of the 17 shows hosted by womxn or NB hosts were recruited through my collective and tuneshare group for underrepresented creatives, The Beatriarchy.
How do you choose who features on your station?
For residents we have an application form and then the core volunteers vote based on the content of the show. However, we prioritise shows from underrepresented demographics and we accept guest shows from anyone.
And finally, what's your future vision of the station?
I would love to see more womxn and non-binary individuals involved in the running of FCR! In a year’s time I would hope to see at least a 50/50 split between male hosts and femxle, queer and BIPOC hosts.
A big thanks to Grace for chatting with us, you can follow & get in touch with Food Hall Community Radio via the Social's below: