Radio Lillooet selects students to produce documentaries

“Old Planet, Young People” is an appropriate name for Radio Lillooet’s new documentary series.

Written and produced by students Fraser Adolph and Leif Douglass, the series of eight documentary programs focuses on local environmental issues and related opportunities.

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Funding for the Radio Lillooet (CHLS) project comes from a Community Radio Fund of Canada summer project called Youth on the Air.

When Radio Lillooet station manager Jeff O’Kelly received a notice in March inviting no-profit community radio stations to apply for Youth on Air funding, he dutifully sent in his first-ever grant application.

“You’re allowed to apply for up to $10,000 in funding and I expected we might get half of that,” said O’Kelly. After consulting with the Lillooet Camelsfoot TV and Radio Association, O;Kelly touched base with the Lillooet Naturalist Society..

“Member of Lillooet Naturalists thought there’s so  much work in environmental fields going on in Lillooet, that youth had to be involved,” O’Kelly explains. “I came up with the idea of hiring two interns to produce four half-hour documentaries on the subject of environmental work in Lillooet with a possible focus on young people working on environmental work. To my bewilderment, we got back word you received the full $10,000 and they didn’t want any changes in the project.”

O’Kelly soon hired Adolph and Douglass. Both had worked at Split Rock Environmental; Douglass was a participant in the Rivershed Society’s Sustainable Leadership Program’s trip down the Fraser River; and O’Kelly knew Adolph as “one of the best bird spotters around” because of Adolph’s earlier work on bird surveys with biologist Ken Wright.

“There can be swifts flying way up in the sky and Fraser’s got a good eye for spotting htem,” he explains.

Adolph and Douglass started work in July and finish up at the end of this month. They will be involved in all phases of producing the radio documentaries – research, interviewing, writing and digital sound  editing. O’Kelly says they will have the final decision on the creative content of the programs they produce.

Douglass has already selected two topics – one on bees and one on the socio-economic aspects of organic farming. He will be interviewing a bee researcher who’s working locally as well as Bob Meredith, longtime owner of Cariboo Apiaries, which produces Golden Cariboo Honey.

“We associate bees with stings and honey, but there’s a lot more to them than that,” says Douglass, citing the world’s disappearing bee population.

Adolph has interviewed Vivian Birch-Jones about Lillooet’s bats, Jacquie Rasmussen on invasive species, Sue Senger about the local bear population and John Redan about his work as an environmental monitor studying the diet of local bears. For Redan, that means studying bear scat and planting seeds that have germinated in bears’ digestive tracts, meaning those seeds come with their own attached nutrients.

“There’s no shortage of topics. There’s so much going on here in terms of the environment,” said O’Kelly. “Vivian has done a lot of work promoting projects here, getting scientists and researchers to come into this area. Originally, Lillooet was thought of as a place between Vancouver and the grasslands or Vancouver and the Okanagan. Now they’re looking at Lillooet through new eyes and saying there are coastal zones, forest and desert in the area.”

The shows are expected to air this fall on CHLS (100.5 FM) and will also be posted on the Radio Lillooet website. Progress reports and sound clips will also be posted this summer on the web page.

O’Kelly says Douglass and Adolph are starting to realize the creative possibilities and the technical opportunities involved in radio programming.

“Taking out the ums and ahs, making the person they’re interviewing sound much more articulate,  adding music and sound effects like the sounds of bats,” he continued. “Radio documentary is such an incredible medium in terms of how much it involves the listener;s imagination. Radio listeners are drawn into playing an active party, much more than someone watching TV.”

Leif Douglass added, “We’d like to thank everybody who’s been so co-operative. It takes courage to be interviewed.”

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