It’s been just over a week since Aye Lassie finished its debut broadcasts and it finally feels like enough time’s passed to reflect and share some thoughts about what proved to be an amazing experience.
Before February 2019, Trish Caird – my Aye Lassie partner in crime - and I had never met. I’d been told there was a woman who also worked on women’s history and had been promised an introduction. Heading in to Sunny G Radio for my weekly volunteering slot, I was expecting to practice my nascent broadcasting skills and play some music over the radio but that wouldn’t be the case. That day Heather from the station had arranged for Trish to come down and within ten minutes of meeting, she convinced us to make a multi-episode show to celebrate International Women’s Day 2019. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a freelancer, it’s to say yes as often as possible. The format (radio) was new to me and the turn around time was tight (three weeks) but Trish and I had the will and the time to give it our best shot.
We committed to three one-hour shows that explored, celebrated and shared Scottish women’s history and planned to air them on Sunny G Radio in the days leading up to and on 8 March, which was International Women’s Day. Our first task was to narrow down the scope. Scottish women’s history as a topic is big and vague and we needed some boundaries to mark out our territory. What could we meaningfully cover in just three hours? That might seem like plenty of time but it goes by faster than you think. What would be interesting and beneficial to Sunny G’s varied audience? This proved to be the hardest decision we made. For me, it was difficult because I wanted to make the best use of a 60,000 strong audience. I’ve written and presented conference papers and I’ve published journal articles so when writing them, I’ve taken into account the potential influence for both those formats. I’ve also considered their audiences but I’ve never had to consider the breadth and depth of community radio listenership. When writing articles, I put forward arguments and provided examples that are very specific to a small but highly invested audience. I already had their attention and the hard part was gaining their approval. If I used good secondary sources and presented an original argument, then I was on my way to gaining it. However, in my brief three-month tenure as a broadcasting DJ, I’ve learned radio doesn’t work like that. I had to rethink all the ways I’ve been trained to present research.
Considering the potential size of Sunny G’s audience and its variety of listeners, I wanted to make Aye Lassie’s content as applicable to as many people as possible. I decided the best way to achieve that was to keep it simple and conceptually split episodes into two parts - what happened and why it matters – because this division would give listeners a broad, general sense of a topic and hopefully keep them tuned in.
Despite having never specifically made a radio programme, I didn’t have to start from scratch. I’ve had a lot of experience recording and editing audio as well as qualitative interviewing so it made sense to put them all to good use for Aye Lassie. I am also fortunate to know enough people who have interests in women’s history and work in fields informed by those stories. Why not get them involved? Asking others about their experiences, I could showcase all the good work that other people do. That, to me, seemed like a brilliant way to share Scottish women’s history without making people listen to my voice the whole time. Considering Trish and I were working to a very tight timetable, I was beyond relieved when contributors from Wikimedia UK, the Scottish Library and Information Council, Strong Women of Clydeside and Glasgow Women’s Library all agreed to help out. We were very fortunate and it was their input that really brought the topics to life and illustrated how legacies left by some Scottish women are still around and impacting lives today.
We made the decision early on to have the episodes and some additional materials available after their first broadcasts. Radio is an aural medium and not everything translates through sound. I wanted there to be a space where we could give access to those elements of the show and where we could provide links to any people, events or media mentioned. Like it or not if something isn’t on the internet, then it doesn’t exist so our decision was less about whether we should do it and more about finding where that could happen. At the very least, we needed a webpage and Sunny G kindly allowed us to set up camp on their site.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous when Aye Lassie first aired. It’s our first shot at making a radio programme and I had no idea if anyone was listening. I crossed my fingers and hoped that we’d get some feedback. And we did! Overall, we had great responses and while we can’t be too sure who listened and when, we do know that there is an interested audience.
So I’m very pleased to say that what started as a three-part series just for International Women’s Day has been extended! We’re going to keep making shows but slow down the pace a bit. For now, we’ve settled on a monthly broadcast but as we’re still working on the best way to make and share Aye Lassie we’ll need to keep reviewing that as we go.
Trish and I owe massive thanks to Episode 1-3 contributors: Nora McKerrow, Michael Maciocia, Steve Ogden, Clare Thompson, Tara Beall, Lesley Mitchell, Dr Sara Thomas, Delphine Dallison, Caroline Gausden, Jenny Noble and Sue John for their enthusiasm and help. Also thank you to Heather, Jim and Steg from Sunny G for lending us their airwaves, Lisa Donati from Gie It Laldy for designing our social media image, Briony Cullin for the marketing advice and Kirsty Mooney for getting the website up and running. You’ve all helped make Aye Lassie’s inaugural episodes informative, exciting and relevant.
Feeling inspired? Want to contribute to an episode? We welcome suggestions for future topics and if you’ve got experience in Scottish women’s history or you think your work/hobby/obsession is influenced by the achievements of fierce Scottish ladies, then we’d love to have you as a contributor. Please get in touch by emailing me via the contact form on this website or messaging the Aye Lassie Twitter account.