Have You Heard... Listen To Older Voices

amclellan, 26th October 2017

At the end of October 2017, Listen To Older Voices celebrated its 1000th continuous weekly program. 

Each story features the life of an Australian, born here or overseas, who is 65 years or older. From the earliest episodes, the show followed the 'Life and Times' format, where an older person is encouraged to recall their early life through until present time.

Commencing nationally in October of 1998, and a long-running program on the Community Radio Network, LTOV had its start with Jaycee Hall and Hannah Sky.

At that time the program was operating under the auspice of the Upper Yarra Community house located in Melbourne’s Yarra Valley, part of the Melba Community Support program. Workers visiting people who were socially and or geographically isolated realized that the older people they were speaking with had amazing stories about their upbringing and Australia through the turn of the 19th to the 20th century.

Workers would take a small portable cassette deck and record some of the stories of these older folk.

Then the local community radio station in Woori Yallock (Yarra Valley FM, 3VYV) heard that this was happening and asked if they could use the material, before the show attained national distribution.

In 2004 Rob Greaves (pictured) took on the job of program producer, interviewer and editor, a role he still holds 13 years later. We asked Rob about the program and its continuing role.

What would you say the aims of the show were originally? Have these changed all this time later?

The main aim has always been to present the concept of 'positive ageing' through interviews and to show the contribution these people have and continue to meet to their local community and the nation.

This reminds us all that age is not a barrier to citizens, to Australian’s carrying out tasks and in their own way making this country as great as it is.

How does the show go about getting its interview subjects on board?

Through Wesley Connect, through the Melba program in Healesville, word-of-mouth, and my contacts in the music world.

Do you research them beforehand, or find everything out through conversation while you're recording?

Very little research is done, sometimes I’m given snippets of information, but the skill is in drawing the stories out.

This is one of the reasons I start from the interviewees' earliest memories and then generally talk about parents and family. It settles them and anchores them in the “known”.

Do you have any particular kinds of listeners in mind when carrying out the interviews, or is there something in there for everybody?

The only criteria (as required by the conditions of funding), is that they are 65 years or older.

Looking over the 1000 episodes, would you say any ‘universal' reflections shine through the entire series?

That older people have and continue to make extraordinary contributions to this nation. 

Episode 1000 features a 71 year old Baby Boomer named Norman "Normie" Rowe AM. Although he was at one time the most popular entertainer in Australia in the 1960’s and continues a music career today, it’s really is his unswerving commitment, passion and dedication to Australian veterans of the Vietnam War that comes through his life's story.

Has carrying out the interviews each week changed any of your own perspectives around life or the nature of our society?

It has made me realise how fortunate I am, not to just be invited into people’s homes, but into their lives.

Tell us how stations would benefit from adding Listen to Older Voices to their program grids

It will provide listeners of all ages an informative, entertaining and sometimes educational program through the stories of older Australian’s who reflect on their lives and achievements. 

This is content and a program format that is largely missing from most stations - older Australians are often dismissed as if their contributions are over. This program suggests otherwise.  With the recent addition of Baby Boomers stories, being the latest generation to join the “older cohort”, it means the program has stories covering the commencement of the 20th century through to today, as witnessed by generations pre and immediately post WW2.  This should encourage even more listeners as everyone loves stories, and there is an old adage - there is nothing stranger than the truth.

For CRN subscribers:

  • Listen To Older Voices (27'50) is broadcast/distributed by CRN Tuesdays from 13:04 EST/EDT, and is available for DDN capture
  • Download and alternative delivery options available
  • For more information contact CRN staff on 02 9310 2999 or email [email protected]
Not a CRN subscriber, but want to find out more about getting content like this for your station? Read more here.

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Healthy ageing, especially for Australians aged 55 and over.

Little Fictions, is a half-hour storytelling program presented by Sydney actor, Ella Watson-Russell, and produced and orginally broadcast on Sydney's 2RPH. The show features contemporary short stories by authors from across Australia and read by actors, recorded at live performances or in studio. 

History Lab has some good stories to tell, but it's not interested in just telling you these stories, or what to think. History Lab wants to draw you in to the investigative process, and challenge you to think of when, what and why history happens.