We Can Be Heroes

16 May 2012 | 2:01 pm | Staff Writer

By being able to operate independently, community radio and PBS in particular is able to present the broadest spectrum of music and hence present real radio that’s presented by volunteer announcers who are passionate about their music

This year, Monday 14 to Sunday 27 May marks PBS 106.7FM's annual Radio Festival. The theme for this year's event is Be Our Hero – as in, be our hero and subscribe – thereby supporting those who fight valiantly for independent, community radio over the dark forces of bland commercialisation. With great radio comes great responsibility, according to the station, and those that become members and support PBS financially during Radio Festival will truly be heroes. Every time Inpress does a story on community radio, we begin with the same question: why should punters part with their hard earned to support something that seems, well, to be blunt, always just there? (Please note: this is a complete devil's advocate type question). The answers we get are as eclectic and exciting as Melbourne's independent airwaves themselves. This time, we're speaking with Junkyard host Michael Mulholland, a relative newcomer to 'Peebs' whose show is all about delving deep into various bands, genres or labels. And he doesn't let the side down, outlining a whole host of reasons.

“One: By being able to operate independently, community radio and PBS in particular is able to present the broadest spectrum of music and hence present real radio that's presented by volunteer announcers who are passionate about their music. Two: Community radio and PBS are not playlisted, like most other radio stations. The music presented is selected by the announcers, who are both knowledgeable and passionate about their music. This makes for a much better listening experience, as the listener will be able to learn more about the music been presented, as well as knowing that there is genuine interest from the presenter. Three: PBS in particular is all about the music and presents a great listening experience 24 hours a day. Four: Community radio and PBS are operated mainly by volunteers who are passionate about what they're doing. That is being able to support a station that presents the most diverse listening experience. Five: Community radio and PBS support local musicians who would otherwise not have the chance to have their music heard. PBS offers their Studio 5 for live-to-air for local musicians, as well as promoting their gigs and playing their music.”  

So, what kinds of things does Mulholland have planned for his show during Radio Festival? It seems listeners will be getting a bit of a 'best of'-type deal, as well as some bonus material.

“[I'll] play a selection of tracks that I've presented over the last 12 months on my show, Junkyard. Also I'll be featuring special guests, within the show, both this week and next week.”

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Given PBS is going with the whole superhero theme for this year's festival, Inpress can't resist asking which person or persons around the station Mulholland would liken to which superhero/es and why? In the end, though, we needn't have asked, really.

“Phil McDougall, who presents Sunglasses After Dark each week, is nicknamed The Prince Of Darkness, who is Lucifer from Marvel Comics. He always arrives dressed in black and has a certain aura and mystique about him.”

As mentioned above, Mulholland is a recent arrival at PBS, having first hit the airwaves there about two years ago. In closing, we ask what being a presenter means to him personally, and his answer goes a long way towards explaining, yet again, the reasons why community radio is so important to the larger Melbourne musical landscape.

“Being an announcer on PBS has personally been fantastic, it has given me the opportunity to meet and interview people such as Henry Rollins, Steve Ignorant, Mick Harvey and Glen Matlock. PBS has supplied me with the opportunity to share my knowledge of music, it's always great to get a caller ringing up saying that they'd never heard of the band that I'd been featuring, and now they were going to find and purchase albums, by the artist.”