Get To Know Us: Sharmaine Spencer

CBAA Communications, 20th April 2021
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CRN Operations Coordinator, Sharmaine Spencer

Despite her young age, Sharmaine Spencer has done a lot in community radio. As Community Radio Network (CRN) Operations Coordinator, Sharmaine liaises with stations and program makers to facilitate the sharing of some of the sector's best news, talk, music and entertainment programs - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Outside of the office, she is actively involved in making radio herself, as the host of The Cut on sydney's Eastside Radio 89.7FM, as well as assisting with other programming on the station. Sharmaine's personal and professional passions have recently merged - Sharmaine is spearheading and producing The Five Minute Advocate, a short form weekly current affairs program available on the CRN, hosted by sector luminaries Eva Cox, Julie Macken and Lola Forester. Sharmaine is interested if you're thinking about selling your records. 

How did you first get involved in community radio?

I was driving around Ryde one day after getting booted out of uni for a semester due to not turning up. I was channel surfing on the radio and stumbled across a station playing some really wicked jazz. I did not remember exactly what it was when I got home so quickly did a google search for ‘cool jazz radio station Sydney’ and stumbled across Eastside Radio. Needless to say, after reading their website and realising you could volunteer at a radio station, I was sending them an email to get involved. I never went back to that uni course and have now been involved at the station for five and a half years and working at the CBAA for two and a half.

What does a typical day in the life of Sharmaine look like?

Wake up, inhale a coffee, spend time with my cat, and then listen to some filthy gangsta rap on the way into the office. Once in the building I get the pleasure of trolling through my favourite news websites whilst listening to some of the best radio content created in our sector for my work with the Community Radio Network. I spend lots of time jumping in and out of helping our current program makers, to working with up-and-coming producers and content makers. I also get the joy of writing our newsletters each week, getting hands on with photoshop, working with external clients, doing some voice over and production work, managing our live breakfast show… I get to wear a lot of hats in one day.

You are offered a radio show - you can have any timeslot, play whatever music you like, discuss whatever you feel is of interest - what's happening today on the Sharmaine Spencer Variety Hour Radio Show? 

Well, I already have the the radio show(s) of my dreams! I have produced and presented a weekly hip-hop show for Eastside Radio for the last five years called The Cut, which is also played across the country via the Community Radio Network. It allows me to express a side of myself that my colleagues rarely see in the office. As the Wicked Bandit, I play underground hip-hop and grimy street rap, and hope to expose people to artists they might not have heard before and get people who may not think they like hip-hop to change their tune. For the last 18 months I have been involved with another program at Eastside called Merchants of Sound, which is an all-female group of selectors and DJs throwing down anything from reggae to soul, disco to new wave, and electro to hip-hop. We are guaranteed to bring you a selection of global beats and wicked treats every Saturday night from 6-8 PM. All of us are members of the Queen Bee Collective, which is a group of female and non-binary DJs that spin exclusively on wax.

I am currently working on another radio project and when I have time, I’m assessing grants for the Community Broadcasting Foundation. So, it’s pretty safe to say that my passion for community radio extends far beyond my 9-5 gig. It’s a place where I have been able to find and express myself as well as share all the weirdly wonderful and eclectic music I love with others.

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