Sunday, 30 December 2012

We're very excited to announce the competition judges

Steve Bowbrick, Tamar Millen, Caroline Mitchell and Mark Vernon are all offering their expert ears.

Less than 3 weeks to go for submitting your 1 minute radio documentaries, but we reckon anyone who wants to could make one in an afternoon. We'd rather have lots and lots of slightly rough audio than just a few very polished ones.

Steve Bowbrick has been making a living from the Internet for twenty years, participated in the boom (and the crash) and survived to join the BBC as head of digital for Radio 3, the corporation’s arts and culture radio station. He’s been a radio nut for decades, curates audio at, blogs at and tweets at @bowbrick.

Tamar Millen is an advocate of the power of collaborative approaches to community, media and arts. Having worked in DIY media since the late 1990s, where the roles of artist, producer and consumer are increasingly blurred she believes close collaboration between the arts and community media will increase the quality and quantity of arts broadcasting and also address ways in which arts organisations respond to emergent broadcasting platforms and audiences.
Currently Tamar is Arts Co-ordinator for the Community Media Association based in Sheffield UK you can follow her on Twitter @tamarmillen

Caroline Mitchell has been active in community radio for the past 30 years and in 1992 co-founded Fem FM, the first women's station in the UK. She is part time senior lecturer in radio at the University of Sunderland and an researcher/consultant/trainer/evaluator in community media working in UK and Spain. At Sunderland she launched the UK’s first Masters course in Radio Production and Management.  She is a fan of all things experimental on the radio and enjoys listening to radio features and documentaries that ‘push the boundaries’.

Mark Vernon is a sound artist and radio producer based in Glasgow, Scotland. He was a founding member of art radio collective, 'Radio Tuesday' and has produced programmes and features for stations including WFMU, RADIA, Resonance FM, CKUT, VPRO and the BBC. His radio productions range from documentaries and radio plays to more experimental audio collage and soundscape pieces.

Just tell us the title, how to contact you and if you are over or under 18.
The deadline is 5pm on Friday, 18th January.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

1 minute radio docs

Interest in the competition growing, with the call out on the Community Media Association arts page now
And the first submission is in, all the way from Lisbon. Keep them coming!

Email us all any questions you have, to

What is a documentary anyway? Let's stretch the boundaries a bit. I think so long as it tells of real human experience, the way we shape the audio is open to experimentation. How about a poem? Or 1 minute of captured, raw sound? So often these initial recordings turn out to be as rich as a well edited piece, as cars drift by, people chat, a plane passes overhead.

When you submit your piece, could you let us know if it's for the under or over 18s category, and make sure we have the right contact details for you.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

First Spark 2013 at Soundart Radio 102.5fm

The First Spark Radio Festival began in 2009 when we relaunched Soundart Radio under our new Community Radio Licence for South Devon after a couple of years as a student station for Dartington College of Arts.
We were interested in celebrating our rural location and the delights and challenges of producing radio art here. We wanted to engage with and question the multiple faiths of our local community and the sense of nostalgia for a farming heritage.
First Spark is part of a programme of work at the station around the sometimes-forgotten fire festivals of Beltane, Lammas, Samhain and Imbolc, as we seek to find new ways to celebrate these turning points of the year.

It seemed that Imbolc, which falls on 2nd February and is known as Candlemas in the Christian calendar, was particularly ripe for this. Imbolc marks the midway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, and is a time of the very earliest signs of Spring, small buds peeping up through the snow, or maybe just howling winter storms. It is the least appropriate time for any kind of cultural gathering and our events typically have a low turn out, though plenty of radio listeners.

So First Spark is the earliest sign of spring, but to us this also means the beginnings of new ideas, or a spark of electricity at the heart of a performance. New music, new ideas in radio, transmission art and electronic arts all seem to sit comfortably at Imbolc, and the theme grows richer and more interesting each year.
We generally make time for a live on air discussion. So far we have had Why Transmit? and Why Improvise? with artists responding to these questions in their own manner, and a room of people discussing the issue for a couple of hours. 2012's improvisation theme was also explored through live music and dance.

For 2013 we find ourselves in a post Leveson society, quietly reasserting Soundart Radio's original intention to not be 'the media'. We are not a team of trained journalists, we are a bunch of damaged and creative people, finding our own ways to tell the stories of our own lives. So First Spark 2013 has the subheading 'Alternatives to Journalism' as we explore many ways to tell the stories that cross our path or affect us from far away. There will be a one day event, various playlists, time set aside for a 24 hour radio installation if the right thing comes along, a discussion (called something like Why Report?) and, the bit we're most excited about, a competition for 1 minute radio documentaries.

Your radio documentary can be on any theme and told in any format, so long as it is audio only. It should be within a hair's breadth of 1 minute, and have a great title. It must be entirely your own work, though could be a reworking of something you have made before. You can enter as a team or as an individual. No other information (eg pictures, explanatory text) will be taken into account by the judges. The deadline is 5pm on Friday 18th January.

We'd really like to play them all on Soundart Radio during the first week of February, though anything that is in breech of our guidelines will not be broadcast. The winners (one over 18 yrs, one under) will be announced at the First Spark event on 2nd February 2013. More details on this to follow soon.

Happy recording! Do email us any questions to

Post your audio submissions here: