Fifty-six and a half hours of radio recorded and edited in my kitchen over the course of a year. Over a hundred interviewees, a hundred and fifty songs. I’d always liked choosing songs. In the studio, I’d pick a track as a gift – something I knew that a guest loved, a song that featured in the closing credits of the film they wrote – and watch their face light up.
In May 2020, I stopped baking, gardening and painting furniture, and started making radio and podcasts. I became addicted to editing, which replaced random acts of DIY. The garden has gone to hell again but after a while, I know what a word looks like. An ‘um’ is a whale, starting off round and tailing away. I learn to cut the audio where the background is completely blank. I know exactly how long fifty-nine minutes is. I record the links last, speaking into my phone with a duvet over my head and the lockdown kitten jumping on me delightedly (she’s still doing it – she did it yesterday).
This autumn will see new podcasts – for Polari, for other projects, and eventually, my own work and more interviews. In the meantime, I can take these fifty-six and a half hours and put them out into the world as a gift, letting my guests know that someone listened to them in the silent weeks of 2020 and 2021.
LP’s Lost on You was the song of last summer, Haim’s Hallelujah drowning out the neighbours as I tried to work. Cold Song by Klaus Nomi for winter, the DJ Hell remix. Frankie Knuckles as I crossed the road for my one sanctioned walk of the day. O’Hooley and Tidow while I decked the Christmas tree, scooping the kitten out of a tangle of lights. I didn’t see my family that Christmas, but in Spring, we got together and listened to the show as it broadcast on Resonance FM, dancing around the room to Kelly Rowland, Shawn Wasabi, The Pussycat Dolls. We danced until the show was over, only stopping during the interviews, for fifty-nine minutes.
Highlights from Out in South London and other radio projects:
Out in South London: It’s a Sin – A special episode focused on the TV show from Russell T. Davies, with guests Simon Maddrell, Stewart Whoo, Luke Turner, Paul Burston and former health workers Valerie Harvey and Teresa Edmans. (https://www.mixcloud.com/Resonance/out-in-south-london-9-february-2021-its-a-sin/)
In conversation with Peter Tatchell – An interview with the campaigner about his life and work to mark the release of a new documentary on Netflix, with three tracks specially chosen by Peter, Desert Island Discs-style (https://www.mixcloud.com/Resonance/micro-clear-spot-3-june-2021-peter-tatchell/)
International Women’s Day – Rebellious Women: With musical mashups and guests including author Jane Traies, a new look at the lives of lesbians from the early to late twentieth century. (https://www.mixcloud.com/Resonance/rebellious-women/)
Brum Radio Takeover Show: My Top LGBT+ tracks, featuring MIRI, Grace Savage, Sarah Walk and Benin City among many others: https://www.mixcloud.com/BrumRadio/the-takeover-show-with-sophia-blackwell-15052021/
Out in South London Music Special: Janette Mason, with two tracks from her Wall-to-Wall Bowie project featuring David McAlmont and Sam Obernik. Interviews and original music from Nick Field and Zoe Konez. (https://www.mixcloud.com/Resonance/out-in-south-london-6-april-2021/)
Out in South London last show of the season – Deborah Espect, Filmpride; Cassie Fox, Loud Women; Shaun Kitchener, All That; and Martin O’Brien, PSA/Performance Space: (https://www.mixcloud.com/Resonance/out-in-south-london-27-july-2021/)