By John Walton
Short answer: A conversation between Tom and I.
Long answer: Radio had always been with me since I can remember.
There was no TV in South Africa until I was twenty-one. It was radio or nothing! Not that I am complaining. Many hours were spent listening to the SABC, mostly Springbok Radio before the local FM stations came on line. By then, I was already listening to medium wave station Lorenzo Marques (LM) – South Africa’s version of Radio Luxembourg.
I fondly remember the late Sunday night sessions with my sister, with the transistor close to the window and a piece of wire from the aerial to attach it to the burglar-bars for better reception – tuning into LM for the Top 20.
I had a longing to be one of the DJ’s. Sadly, this never happened and though it stayed a dream it was not to be the path I careered along.
Jump to Frome 2015…
Recently retired to Frome I saw an advert placed in the Frome Times asking for interested parties who would like to volunteer for local community radio to contact Frome FM Community Radio. I went with low expectations but thought, “What the hell, there must be something I can do. I can at least started to learn what is required, even sweeping the floor to start with.”
Phil Moakes was the guy in charge, and he was extremely supportive and welcoming. At last, I was now under starters orders. I was given training to studio manage, and soon after, a chance to do a demo show. Phil cleared me for live broadcasts. I was out the gate.
I was in radio! Now my natural desire to keep moving forward pulled me onwards.
Internet radio was calling. Mick Woods of Phoenix Radio UK accepted my show – a new audience and new friends. Two of these were Thomas Stankiewicz and his then girlfriend, now wife, Andrea Dunkell. When Mick could no longer continue with his station Tom and I shared the idea that the station should not go silent and decided to make a go of it ourselves.
In 2017 Phoenix had a month to run. We managed to get up and running within the deadline. Phoenix transmitter shut down and Mix Tape Radio International (MRRI) was LIVE. We could give any presenters who had enjoyed the platform Mick had offered, a chance to continue.
This is what we are all about…
We are a club of independent radio presenters, gathering together under one banner to inform and entertain our listeners. Using as many technologies as we can to bring us closer to you. We stand for independence and fairness. We are real people with real passion bringing you real radio. We encourage diversity in program content as well as nationality, YOUR music in YOUR language or any language you like. If music is not your bag, music reviews, movie reviews, literature-based shows, travel … come to us with your ideas and we are sure we can work with you.
We have progressed in leaps and bounds since then with both Tom and I having to master new skills as we go. It is an exciting journey and we have not reached our horizons yet.
I enjoy listening to the station. We are fortunate to have excellent presenters with a wide musical taste. Although the station was envisaged with an all genre of music, and an open language and culture policy, we seem to attract a number of Country & Western shows – not all but many. That is the dynamic growth at the moment, but who knows.
YOU could be the change!
On the language front- things are also doing well with English, German, Spanish and Afrikaans currently on air.
The core team at the controls are Andrea, Janet, Tom, Len and myself. We are currently funding and operating the station ourselves. Of course, this could not be possible without our presenters allowing us to air their shows on a ‘play but no pay’ system. My hope is to remedy this in the future.
Being part of radio still gives me a buzz. Connecting, sharing. Interviewing people has not only allowed me to bring their stories to our listeners but taught me that all of us are important and no one leads an uninteresting life.
Tom and Andrea came over to Frome for that first joint Christmas show December 25th 2017.
It is strange that such a solitary thing as sitting in the hot dark studio with whirring computers and flashing lights, isolated by your headphones, leads to making contact and friends worldwide – and who knows beyond. You invite us into your homes and hearts. We thank you and love you for it as we love radio itself.
Join the family, why don’t you? Walk right in. The door is always open.
On the web page we offer a chance to interact with MTRI, contacts, select songs for the auto playout, vote on Artist of the Month, donate links to the two charities, links to artists and presenters. Jump in and browse around…..
If you would like to help, advertise, have a show, join The Mall Project or donate, contact me, John Walton, via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can listen to an interview with John here: John the Radio Man
John has also written a piece about the number 10: What is 10?
And you can read about where John and his wife, Janet live: Where We Live