Volunteer efforts led to podcasting career

Meagan Perry fell in love with audio broadcasting when she was a teenager. Unfortunately, that was also when she learned about censorship.

Meagan Perry fell in love with audio broadcasting when she was a teenager.

Unfortunately, that was also when she learned about censorship.

Perry got her start in Bonnyville, Alberta, when her high school started its own radio station called Under the Stairs Radio.

“It wasn’t really a radio station at all — it was closed-circuit, which means over the intercom,” laughed Perry.

“My best friend and I had a radio show where we played a lot of alternative rock — the Cure and stuff like that.”

But everyday the vice-principal insisted on reading the lyrics to all of the songs before they were allowed on the air.

Years later, Perry is still in the audio game, but through the freedom of the internet she has cut down on a lot of that censorship.

It also helps reach a few more listeners than the high school intercom.

On June 6, Perry was named the executive producer of the Rabble Podcast Network.

The network is part of Rabble.ca a non-profit organization that provides access to alternative news and media from across Canada.

 It offers 40 podcasts on diverse topics ranging from legal issues to African news and there’s even a show solely dedicated to taking a critical look at our nation’s prisons.

There is more standard programming as well, with shows on books, film and music.

Every other week, Perry co-hosts the network’s flagship program, Rabble Radio, which offers a choice sample from the network’s other programs.

Perry’s show has also been picked up by a number of college campus radios across Canada.

As executive producer, she will now be setting a new direction for the network.

Recruiting new podcasters and looking for new materials, Perry is trying to get some voices that the network does not yet offer.

“I’d like to get more First Nations involved,” said Perry.

“We have some aboriginal broadcasters, but we don’t have anything specifically that deals with First Nation’s issues.

“Also, I’m not really married to the idea of everything being in English.”

Perry is looking into ways to incorporate African languages into one of her programs as well as new francophone broadcasters.

Creating a podcast is fairly tech friendly.

Perry records her program every other week with a mini-disc recorder and handheld microphone.

She then edits it on her computer.

Unfortunately, there isn’t big money in the field at this time.

All of the broadcasters work as volunteers and only the core administrative staff, like Perry, get any dough for their efforts.

The nonprofit network relies completely on membership donations from its listeners to keep running.

After her stint in the cubbyhole beneath the stairs at high school, Perry spent a decade working in campus/community radio offices in Edmonton and Guelph, Ontario.

She then got a gig working for CBC Radio, producing and directing for the programs As It Happens and Definitely Not The Opera.

Afterwards Perry moved to Whitehorse to work as a freelance writer.

But she missed radio.

“I love producing audio,” she said.

“It’s like television, in that it can really take you somewhere you haven’t been, but it also really depends on your imagination.

“As you’re listening you’re imagining it, so it’s not as passive as video might be.

“It’s almost a poetic medium,” she continued.

“When you hear something from a very good documentary maker it’s almost musical.”

Rabble helped fill that need to produce audio, and Perry began as a volunteer broadcaster for the network in 2005.

The seven-year-old organization has grown considerably since.

Last week, the podcast network had a banner week with 16,000 downloads per day, said Perry.

“It might be small potatoes in the internet world, but it’s pretty big for us.”

Along with an absence of regulating bodies and censors, Podcasts offer other freedoms.

“There is a certain versatility. It doesn’t have to be recorded pristinely, perfectly,” said Perry.

“People are listening to the content.”

Actually, Perry’s most downloaded podcast also had the poorest audio quality.

She recorded it on the road during a drive from Whitehorse to Dawson.

“I recorded it with my computer in the car and I thought, ‘This is terrible, but let’s try it and see how it sounds,’” she said.

“It didn’t sound great, but it didn’t sound that bad.”

“You could hear what I was saying and you could kind of hear the road and it was kind of exciting in a way.”

Perry’s co-host, who records his section of the podcast separately from Hamilton, Ontario, incorporated the sounds that were going on outside of his apartment, she said.

“I talked about being in the car and he talked about being in Hamilton and it worked out wonderfully.”-

To check out the Rabble Podcast Network go to www.rabble.ca/rpn.