Womxn In Radio: Kate Hazeldine [Melodic Distraction]
Happy International Women's Day!
Today is not only a day to celebrate women's achievements across the music scene (and in all other aspects of life!) but also a reminder that there is so much more to be done in order to reach equality and to provide platforms where women feel comfortable. Here at Halcyon we recognise that we are no where near doing this and we will continously strive to get more women and non binary people involved.
Today we continue in our celebration of inspiring womxn who are working behind the scenes in radio. This one is with the wonderful Kate who is a radio producer at Melodic Distraction. You can also catch women and non binary artists across the day. Tune in for artist focuses on Alicia Keys, Alice Coltrane, SOPHIE and Kate Bush as well as guest shows from Shifting Spheres and The Beatriarchy, two collectives based in the North West that seek to uplift and support women & non-binary participation in music.
Last month we also put together a piece from all the womxn we interviewed about radio looking at how we can tackle the under representation of minority groups in radio. Find that HERE.
Hey Kate, thanks for chatting to us! Firstly, can you introduce who you are and what your role is at Melodic Distraction?
Hello! My name’s Kate and I’m one of the radio producers at Melodic Distraction Radio. I’m also a performing artist and DJ under the alias LUNA, writing and producing electronic pop music as well as presenting monthly radio shows EQUINOX on Melodic Distraction and AREA F-5 on Steam Radio, Manchester.
Where did the idea to start the radio station come from and how did you get involved?
Melodic Distraction is the baby of co-founders Josh Aitman and James Zaremba, with Nina Franklin taking the reins as radio manager. My involvement with the station began 2 and a half years ago when Nina approached me about starting a monthly radio show. Although I’d been pursuing my own music career for a couple of years at this point, I’d never done radio before. It was a brand new level of the music game I hadn’t yet unlocked, so I was super nervous for my first show. And even more nervous when I interviewed for the vacancy that happened to be going at the time! Two years later, here I am, chatting utter nonsense down the mic and fluffing one mix at a time ((:
Melodic originally began as a series of parties, with radio being a natural progression a couple of years after. Because of the nature of the nights, the station started off dance-music-focussed, however has massively evolved since. There are shows spanning all sorts of genres, from ambient/field-recordings/industrial, through to jazz, soul, afrobeat, rnb and hip-hop. You’ve still got your techno/house/breaks-orientated shows, but there’s deffo something for everyone!
Were you intimidated by a very (white) male dominated presence in the radio and music industry?
I’ve had more run-ins with this primarily as a music artist over a radio producer, having often felt pressures to achieve more in a shorter space of time (due to age and ‘beauty’). I have been asked one too many times who “helped” me produce my tracks (actually, it was all me), and have sometimes been undermined and ignored in situations like sound-checks before a gig. Having said all this, I am noticing a slow but sure change, with programmes such as ReBalance (addressing the gender imbalance within the music industry), commissions and mentoring schemes offered to women by all-female teams such as RISE Liverpool and Brighter Sounds, and platforms like Shifting Spheres and Producer Girls, providing opportunities for women by women.
Roughly how many shows do you have on the station? What's the ratio like between male and women/nb hosts?
Yikes, so now we’re probably at around 180 show hosts now! The ratio is definitely lower than we’d like, but we’re continuously pushing for an equal balance. While that balance is slowly but surely approaching, hopefully when things like the DJ workshops for women can pick up again, we’ll be even closer.
Do you believe there is enough female/non binary presence on your station?
Striving to reach a 50/50 balance has definitely been our top priority for the past year or so. As we know, the music industry is still heavily dominated by men, so naturally our roster is not quite there yet. So, why could that be? I don’t think it’s a lack of women/non-binary artists and DJs. Could it be we need more women on the other side, to book and curate more women and non-binary focussed line-ups? This is how Nina’s DJ Workshops 4 Womxn began - there wasn’t enough women or non-binary folks on line-ups, so why not grow some? Hopefully something that’ll resume in the future!
Representation is a top priority for us, particularly if you come from a background that is underrepresented, we want to give you a platform for your voice. Secondly, we want to make sure no genre is particularly favoured - if it’s good music, we’ll listen to it!
Any tips you would give to women/ non binary people who are looking to get involved with radio?
I’d say there’s never any harm in just saying hello via a warm, friendly email. Because there’s such a sense of community within independent radio, it’s always nice to expand that community. So, someone emailing to express an interest in what you’re doing as a small team, is always a lovely thing to receive!
Above all, it’s about music, isn’t it? A universal thing that connects us all. An opportunity to reach out and build a connection on a shared passion.
I saw that you have decided to temporarily shut your studio due to a rise in corona cases. Has it been difficult not having as much access to your physical space?
It has of course been difficult, particularly having just moved to our temporary home Phase One on Seel Street. Luckily, we were well practiced after lockdown one, which saw us make all our shows remote, either through pre-records or live-streaming from home.
Home-broadcasting was new to us all, so there’s definitely been a few evenings spent tearing our hair out trying to trouble-shoot ‘which-wire-is-where’ ‘why-is-it-making-that-crunchy-sound’ ‘lad-I-can-see-yer-ma-on-screen’, but we got there eventually! And props to our hosts and team for adapting incredibly well.
How have you upkeep a sense of community through your online space?
The addition of our morning shows (Wake Up! With Melodic Distraction and MDR’s Breakfast Club) have definitely brought a stronger sense of community to our station. They introduced a heavy focus on the chat-room, allowing us to chat absolute wham to each-other about music, porridge toppings, Married At First Sight etc.etc… So we felt together, even though we weren’t.
I also started the Lockdown Live series, which invited some of our fav music artists to live-stream an intimate gig from their home to ours. T’was lovely.
Congratulations about your kickstarter as well! Any ideas of when the plans will be implemented?
Thanks! Summer, hopefully. It’s still in the early stages, but we’re all working hard and are super stoked. We’re looking forward to not just a radio station and workspace, but a community area and coffee shop where anyone can come meet, hang out and listen to tunes.
And finally, what's your future vision of the station?
Our main message is “together, wherever” and that’s something that has, for obvious reasons, become even more prominent over the past year. It’s that emphasis on community - we want to be that warm hug, whether virtually or at our new home, for people from all walks of life. A safe and comforting space to connect, chat, share… And simply enjoy the music.
A big thanks to Kate for chatting with us, you can follow & get in touch with Melodic Distraction via the Social's below: