independent community and Indigenous current affairs

What's behind The Wire?

Andrew McLellan, 16th April 2018
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Each weeknight, community radio listeners around Australia tune into The Wire for their independent current affairs.

It's a half-hour of the day's national current affairs produced for and by Australian community radio, distributed to stations via the Community Radio Network and Black Star Network

Produced by a consortium of stations with correspondents from CAAMA in Alice Springs and RTR FM in Perth, broadcast alternates over the week from 2SER Sydney, Radio Adelaide and 4EB Brisbane

We asked each day's team what goes into an edition of The Wire.

 

Monday and Tuesday: Sydney's 2SER

On Mondays and Tuesdays in Sydney, Roderick Chambers is The Wire’s Executive Producer, with technical producers Ollie Henderson and Myles Houlbrook-Walk on Mondays and Tuesdays respectively. The reporting team includes: Ollie Henderson, Henry Thai, Aaron Monopoli, Mitchell Earnshaw, Rob Osborne, Julia Carr-Catzell, Caitlin McHugh, Victor Petrovic, Caroline Wagner, Nick Parmeter, Veronika Aleshina, Danny Butler, Analiza Grazias-Flor.
Can you quickly take us through a typical day of production?

We arrive by 9am for a pitch meeting where we develop at least two story pitches across different categories. Each journalist needs to cut their own story, find a picture, write their synopsis, establish links, add or correct interviewee’s names and titles and also provide a headline. 

After hitting the phones early, we scour for talent, talking to experts to firm up the issues and form our questions before we even get to the interview stage. Those interviews need to be done by 2:30pm.

Let's just say the day disappears quickly, and by 5:04pm the intro music signals the start of the show. However we are constantly revising and adjusting things to make sure everything runs to schedule.

The show is produced live from different cities and stations over the week. However, The Wire is a national current affairs program. How do you make this work?

The Wire’s stories are viewed through a national lens but we are careful to ensure stories are relevant to regional areas, all States and Territories, Indigenous groups, and many other members of our communities.

We contact other stations if we need some local knowledge, but are thinking of all listeners in Australia. If say a story is breaking in Adelaide on a Sydney production day, we will of course cover the story. Stories that are local in nature need to show national relevance.  

What are some stories that stand out to you?

In July 2014, Lawrence Bull spoke with an teenager in Gaza who could hear bombing around her during the interview. In March 2017, Roderick Chambers interviewed a Townsville resident at the last minute before Cyclone Debbie hit. There have also been football-sized goldfish growing in our waterways, and sonic attacks on the US Embassy in Cuba.

Wednesday and Thursday: Radio Adelaide

In Adelaide, the team’s Executive Producers are Annie Hastwell on Wednesday and Sarah Martin on Thursdays. The reporting team includes: Bonnie Parker, Chris Dastoor, Jessica Supple, Luke Radford, Sophie Comber, Katherine Andrews, Leah Blankendaal, Oliver Brown, Rachel McDonald, Rebecca St Clair, Cody Tsaousis, and Henry Wilson.
How do stories and their selection come together for a typical episode?

Everyone has their story and is chasing contacts by 10.45am. If something isn’t getting anywhere by 12.30pm, we change tact, and always keep an eye out for anything breaking. We usually make sure there’s a spare story at hand to fill any holes. By 3pm, the shape of the show and the stories should be clear, so timeslots are set and we edit with each other and write our links. By 4pm, we are loaded up and just relaxing there in the studio waiting for broadcast (joke – panic reigns!)

What approach do you take to provide a different perspective to national current affairs?

We have a unique opportunity to have fresh young eyes on the affairs of the world. While production is based in three states, contributors can come from all over Australia, bringing stories to a national forum. 

I encourage our volunteers to be brave and creative and follow their own instincts in how they choose and tell stories, while getting them to understand also the nature of the beast that is news.

What stories stand out from your time with The Wire?

Our coverage of the plight of Manus Island refugees; the day the oldest-known archaeological remains, Mungo Man, were returned to their traditional land; the toxic water problem of Pandanus Park.

independent community and Indigenous current affairs

Friday: Brisbane's 4EB

On Fridays in Brisbane, Senior News Producer Steven Riggall heads the team along with long-time producer Eduardo Jordan and reporters Laura Lavelle, Lucy Heron, Danielle daley, Tayla Galvin, Shelley Cheng, Norma Hilton, Madeleine Clark, Vanessa Eagles, Daneka Hill, Katy Holland and Hoang Vo.

How does the program come together?

Together, the team plans the day’s program by searching for content that may not be included in the daily news cycle but is still topical in the minds of metropolitan or rural Australians. Stories may become a feature in coming weeks and the journalists will follow up phone calls and chase down experts for chosen topics.

What stories stand out from your time with The Wire?

Peabody Energy was the world’s largest private-sector coal producer based in the United States until it filed for bankruptcy in 2016, mainly due to its Australian expansion plan. The company then emerged from bankruptcy one year later following a deal with the US Government on environmental issues. The decline of bilingual education in remote Aboriginal schools. And the development of a manual on the law of war in space.

For CRN subscribers:
  • Broadcasts live Monday to Friday at 17:04 AEST/AEDT
  • 25'50 in duration
  • Available for DDN capture and download
  • Recommended airplay within 24 hours of broadcast
  • Repeats 00:06 AEST/AEDT weeknights on CRN-2
  • Station-tailored IDs and promo materials are available
  • For more information contact CRN staff on 02 9310 2999 or email crn@cbaa.org.au
  • Read more at thewire.org.au
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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