Off the highway in industrial Stanmore NSW, behind heavy timber doors and through a hidden courtyard, is the Kinderling Radio studio.
Entering the two-storey loft space, you’re greeted with a red mountainous sculpture by conceptual artist Sol LeWitt. Open-plan desks are littered with pot plants. Vintage children’s books and intriguing pieces of art line the walls and shelves. On the top floor, the recording studio sits at the ready.
This is the station for music lovers who become parents. They don’t want their kids’ ears bombarded with grown-up content on the school run, but they aren’t ready to give up their tastes to listen to nursery rhymes all day either.
We asked presenter of Kinderling Conversation, Shevonne Hunt, a few questions about the space and her creative process. Here’s what she said. What’s your favourite thing about your studio?
It feels like a home away from home. Our content director, Lisa Barbagello, put a lot of her personal style into it, so it feels like a friendly, comfortable space. It really fits the way I feel about the station as a whole.
What’s your workspace like?
I sit on the mezzanine level with our Executive Producer, Sally Knight. It’s the same level as our studio. Our studio is small, but perfect – it’s like a sleek white Tardis and I love it. There’s lots of natural light, and stacks of whiteboards and pin boards on the walls for all our ideas. We’re a small production team, so we’re a busy little space. In a bigger team you would have an editorial meeting every day, but we plan a lot of things ahead of time, so our editorials are often conversations throughout the day, when we need to have them.
Insider info: the turquoise, tangerine and yellow jars in the kitchen from Temple and Webster hold the chocolate biscuits.
Can you tell us about your creative process?
I like to get my head around the stories and scripts in the morning before we go live at 12pm. After the show, we tend to do any pre-recorded interviews or research for future stories. The afternoons are also when we schedule brainstorming sessions or meetings for the bigger picture stuff.
What have been some obstacles in setting up Kinderling?
For Kinderling Conversation, our main enemy is time. We have so many great ideas and an hour of content to fill every day…that eats up a lot of production time. We’re also a new program – this gives us a lot of creative leeway, but you need time to explore new options and make new plans. A radio program isn’t just a radio program anymore, it’s social, online articles and a dynamic website. The challenge is to address all of these things while still producing a quality program.
What have been some of Kinderling highlights so far?
There have been so many! As a station, it was definitely when we were first ‘switched on’ digital radio. As a program, I have been able to explore some stories that are close to my heart as a parent, which includes doing a series on Autism spectrum disorder, and an interview about how children’s brains develop. I’ve been able to interview Andrew Fuller about his book Unlocking Your Child’s Genius – it was such an inspiring interview. Then, of course, there’s all the fun stuff…like doing book and movie reviews (and getting my daughter to review stuff as well – she’s only three so her answers are priceless).
An intriguing Peter Rostovsky art installation featuring a tiny man staring out to stormy seas stands outside the recording booth upstairs at the Kinderling Radio studio.
Who are some creatives and artists that inspire you?
Most people who are audiophiles will know of Ira Glass from This American Life. It’s an amazing podcast from NPR in the States that has a cult following. The show is inspiring because it marries entertainment and information in one great storytelling hour. But closer to home, it’s the women in radio who I’m inspired by, and there are many out there in the podcasting world doing great things. Researcher Rebecca Huntley and journalist Sarah MacDonald tackle current issues for women in an entertaining and very smart way (in their podcast Just Between Us). Natasha Mitchell from Life Matters on the ABC, Wendy Zuckerman and her podcast Science Vs. and anything Richard Fidler does. I’ve been in talk radio for around 10 years now, so I listen all the time. But those who really inspire me make me forget I’m listening to radio and I just enjoy the experience.
What’s been your most favourite project to work on and why?
I mentioned the series on Autism before. I was inspired to do it because my best friend’s son had been diagnosed with autism, and like many people I’d heard a lot about autism, but it was still a bit of a mystery to me. So I decided to do a very basic series, speaking to people who had children diagnosed on the spectrum, and what to do if your child is diagnosed. It was informative, but it also outlined what a confusing, stressful and upsetting process it can be. It made me more aware and I think more compassionate to my friend, and to others who have children with autism. It was clear that some parents whose children have ASD are judged, that their children are just ‘naughty’ or out of control. Hopefully after listening to a series like the one we did, everyone understands a little bit more, and can be more supportive of other parents going through a tough time.
Kinderling Radio’s content director, Lisa Barbagallo, can’t go past a cute plant holder. She found this swan in a store in LA a few years back. Naked low-watt bulbs hang from the high ceiling, in keeping with the industrial feel. You can find similar bulbs at Kmart from $10.
What aspirations do you have for the future?
This probably sounds cheesy, but I’d like for parents and carers to listen to our show, and to feel like we’re a companion and a support. Parenting is fun, but it certainly has its challenging moments. Even when you have great support, you can still feel very alone. The information we have on the show is all about supporting other carers, about making life easier and more fun. I’d also like the stories we do to open up other experiences to parents, to help them understand others in the same place so that we’re all a bit less judgmental. The Daniel von Sturmer TV paint installation drips all day in a rhythmic, hypnotic display of lines.
What would be your dream project?
Ultimately, my dream project would involve getting out of the office more and into some kitchens, speaking to parents and getting stories about their lives from across Australia. A grey and gold pot plant holder from Koskela in Alexandria brightens up a work corner.
What’s your background and what lead you to where you are today?
Originally I worked in advertising, as a photographic producer. I went back to uni to study journalism (part of my first degree) and completely fell in love with radio. I started volunteering at my local community radio station (2ser) and doing whatever I could to get experience. I’ve worked on features for Radio National, and produced shows like Life Matters with Natasha Mitchell and 702 Drive with Richard Glover. Radio is a very competitive industry, and it was very difficult to find stable work (even after five years of trying!). After the birth of my second child, I thought I would have to change careers completely. At a loss for what career I could try next, I posted on Facebook…I figured my friends might know what I would do well. Another friend saw that post and told me about her friend who was setting up a children’s radio station (Evan Kaldor, our Managing Director) and the rest is history. The craziest, most serendipitous thing that has happened in my life!
Kinderling Radio staff are: Evan Kaldor (Managing Director), Lisa Barbagallo (Content Director), Lorna Clarkson (Music Director), Shevonne Hunt (Presenter of Kinderling Conversation), Sally Knight (Executive Producer of Kinderling Conversation), Kylie Little (Commercial Director) and Kate Walsh (Social Media Strategist). Between them they have 10 boisterous and busy children.
Interview + Photos: Bron Bates