Tania Court, Tune!FM UNE Life, student driven radio station

Interview with Tania Court from Tune!FM

It’s a bit of an understatement to say that the work that happens at our student-powered radio, Tune!FM, is nothing short of amazing! But how much do you really know about their student volunteer program, and what job-ready skills they can offer you for future employment?

We recently had a chat with Tune!FM’s manager Tania Court about the University’s iconic radio station and some of the stellar work they do in providing UNE students valuable work experience, creating all-inclusive playlists, and how they managed to keep the tunes rolling during the March lockdown.

What do you enjoy the most about your work?

I would have to say the favourite part of my job has to be working with students and watching their skill sets and confidence develop.

It has to be said that there is no standard day at Tune. There are so many different things we do each day, including;

  • checking news sources
  • announcing
  • getting new music into the system
  • running playlists, etc.

Every day is different depending on who is in the studio – which makes it exciting coming into work each day! 😊

Tune!FM is a Huge advocate for Be a Better Human campaign, how does the station keep this in the back of its mind at all times?

We are, it’s really important – we ensure that our song selection is all-inclusive.

This means the songs that go into our playlists are put through the BaBH “sniff test”.  So, what we’re mainly on the lookout for are songs that have lyrics that normalise forms of non-consensual sex.

We have over 25,000 songs in our digital music library alone which makes it a huge job to sort through them all. But we are getting there – and you can help too – if you hear a song slip through on a rare occasion just let us know!  It’s a work in process, but one we’re really happy to be working on!

To explain this a little further, this doesn’t mean we have zero songs about sex on our playlists… because let’s be honest… if we removed every song about sex, we’d have a pretty small and boring music library.  Consensual sex is a normal and healthy part of life.  So, for us, it’s about choosing not to play songs that encourage or normalise rape culture. In other words, Jamie Foxx’s Blame It On The Alcohol is out but Rihanna’s S&M is in.

What other ways does the work you do at Tune support the BaBH initiative for our students?

We (in a regular year) hold a lot of student-focused events where we try to incorporate the pillars of BaBH into them. But really for us, it’s about the everyday student discussions – on and off-air.  We’re all about shifting the conversation long term and changing the status quo. We want people to know that normalising rape culture is a big ‘no-no’.  The more you can normalise conversation’s around consent, empathy and respect, the more we can help end the stereotypes when it comes to who can be a victim of sexual assault. And, the more we talk about it, the easier for people to become Active Bystanders.

When Rihanna said “please don’t stop the music” we really felt that during the NSW lockdown in March 2020… How did your team adapt to keep the music rolling during that period?

Honestly, our Radio Broadcast Assistant (RBA) program saved the day.

Our RBA program is a student’s-as-staff program where students can be hired (usually after volunteering or doing a Work3oo with us) to do some of the behind-the-scenes work and announcing that helps supports our student volunteers. Normally they would do announcing when volunteers can’t come in to do their shifts and make sure we’re covered overnight etc, but during the shutdown, they stepped up and did ALL the announcing.  It was a big ask and they did the most amazing job.

How does Tune offer students a chance to develop their workplace skills through your volunteer program?

Communication is a key job skill in all career areas.  Our volunteer program helps students build that skill, but we tailor it in a way that works for their future career.  What students report on and announce changes depending on what their future career aspirations are.  That way when they graduate, they’ll have experience in talking professionally about specific issues that are applicable to their career.

The volunteer program also provides proof of your reliability as an employee.  It’s the first question I get on all the reference calls I do…“does this person show up and do their job?” Tune gives students the opportunity to prove that they’re a solid employee in a professional environment.  And to be honest… radio experience is an amazing thing to have on your resume.  It really catches the eye of potential employers and sets you apart from other applicants.

What are some of the skills essential volunteers could learn?

What I think are the most important skillsets a person can have in their arsenal is resilience and how to work through issues when things go wrong. So, let’s put it into the perspective of your studies… What do you do when you don’t get the mark you expect?  What about if tech fails when you’re trying to submit an assignment or do a quiz? Or what happens when you’ve just failed one of the core units of your degree?  Do you just give up? Or, are you capable of figuring out what you need to do to fix the situation?

Similarly, at Tune when you’re live to air, or working with complex radio systems that work through a complex university network, you learn to deal with issues as they come up and if you can’t fix the issue then you learn to take what you have and turn it into another form of content that can work.

Problem-solving is a huge part of life, and so mastering how you react to problems when they pop up is a huge skill to have!

Your team covered the bushfires for the RFS, can you tell me a little bit about that?

Yes, we did! This is actually something we’ve been doing for years, but it became pretty apparent to our listeners during the 2019/20 Summer Bushfires.

We monitor and announce a range of warnings and advice. You name it, from storms, floods, bushfires, air quality – we will announce it.  Our Studio A computer is probably the most frequent user of the university’s COVID alert page.

This year is Tune’s 50-year Anniversary – we know you were going to go all out celebrating – how have these plans changed?

Haha, no our 50th celebrations did not look anything like what we planned! Instead, we’ve been doing shows and musical spotlights on air to highlight each year in the station’s history and we’re working on a webpage that takes people through our (and UNE’s history).  Plus, we’re still hoping to do a big reunion dinner with alumni when everything settles down.  Maybe next year or even the year after depending on how the COVID-recovery timeline goes.

But what we’ve really done is put the energy and time that would have gone into the 50th celebrations into growing our systems to expand our volunteer program out to online students – which we are really excited about! We’ve been wanting to do it for years, but the tech hasn’t been where we needed it to be.  It’s been a HUGE project that’s currently in testing – so watch this space for future announcements.  I think it’s a project the original Radio UNE (Tune!FM’s first name) students would approve of.  Giving more students the ability to be part of student radio at UNE?  Yeah, that’s something they’d take on.

Music is obviously a big part of your world; do you have a playlist for us?

We’re all about playlists.  If you’re interested in knowing how music has changed while Tune’s been around? We’ve made a playlist with the number 1 songs from the last 50 years, some of which would not make it onto our radio playlists today 😊

Thank you so much for the chat Tania for the chat, it’s been awesome learning more about the opportunities that you and Tune!FM are providing to our students getting their work-ready skills in check!

For any of our readers wondering how they can ‘tune’ into the station, there are a variety of ways you can do this from anywhere in the world including:

  • If you are tuning in from Armidale, they’re on 106.9FM.
  • Or, you can stream them on the internet here.
  • They are also on mobile streaming apps – TuneIn, iHeartRadio. And you can even try asking your smart speakers to play TuneFM – “Hey Google, play TuneFM on TuneIn”

And for anyone interested in the volunteer program at Tune, you can pop by the station on campus, or contact them through their webpage here.