For more than two years, a group of nearly 30 volunteers has been celebrating the cultural diversity of Gainesville by broadcasting its voices throughout the area.
TEAM ARTS of North Georgia, a network of teaching artists looking to blend community-based instruction with school curriculums, has teamed with Brenau University to create a weekly public radio broadcast — Celebrations: Arts Alive.
The show, which airs every Saturday from 8-9 a.m., tackles a theme each week, including Kwanzaa, Hispanic Heritage Month and Native American storytelling.
“I think it’s important for Gainesville to hear about the diverse community we have and to hear all the different voices,” said Marianne Scott, the producer of the show. “We’re really a wonderful multicultural mix here in Gainesville and a lot of time people don’t know that. So, we bring them in, put them on the air and let people hear what a cool community we are.”
And, as an initiative of TEAM ARTS, the broadcasting group recruits the help of local schools.
Depending on the theme, Scott and her team, made up of writers, readers and associate producers, ask for the help of local students, ranging from elementary school to college students.
Those students record segments, including poetry, essays and stories, either at their school or on Brenau’s campus in its radio studio. Those segments are professionally implemented into the one-hour-long show each week.
“The school part is really cool because it’s important for the kids to understand how media is produced and how much time it takes to make just a little bit,” said Scott. “It’s media literacy.”
For example, Jay Alexander, the show’s audio editor, worked with faculty at Chestatee Academy of Inquiry and Talent Development to help create segments for the show’s Dia de los Muertos piece.
“It’s fun to get the kids involved,” said Alexander.
But putting together a weekly radio show, for free, is harder than one might expect, Scott said.
The group estimates each one-hour show takes about 100 man-hours of work to produce. Between the research, writing, editing, rehearsals and casting, the ever-changing crew puts in some serious volunteer hours.
“It’s not just an hour every week that we do this,” said Scott. “It’s not just a casual talk show — it’s produced professionally.
“We do it with no budget and low tech, almost.”
But the result, and the experience, is worth it, said those who are a part of the show.
“There’s always something new,” said Carrie McKinney, a Gainesville State College student who is a regular voice on the show. “We’re always learning interesting and random things you never really thought of, but I think it’s important for the community to absorb it, if possible.”
Each episode is recorded onto a CD as well as uploaded as a podcast, allowing those involved to hold onto a piece of their work, along with giving the community another chance at hearing the show.
The podcasts can be found at www.celebrations.podomatic.com.