A long time ago in a place not that far away a poor unsuspecting musician got sucked into the wonderful vortex of Aus community radio. In fact it was 21 years ago in Belgrave, and now Phil Young is celebrating 20 years and 1000 shows of his program
‘Folk On The Fringe’ on Mountain District Radio, 3MDR.
It all started when a promotional visit to Gordon McVicar on his show ‘Currently Playing Folk’ turned into an invitation to co-host the program. A year later on the final 1996 show Gordon passed the baton and the 3hr Thursday night show was transformed into ‘Folk On The Fringe’, ‘a place where music is a passion, not a product’. Soon it moved to the 7 to 9pm slot on Wednesdays where it’s stayed for 20 years this December 30th. The same can’t be said of 3MDR though, with a move to the Emerald Mechanics institute around the turn of the century. Time and budget constraints meant it was all hands to the deck and Phil weighed in with the rest, designing the new studios and watching the real workers construct them. Many lasting friendships were forged in the fires of this shared purpose over an amazingly short 3 weeks.
The show originally had live-to-air performances every fortnight, mixed on the fly by Phil in the on-air studio. This was not some grand scheme to promote local artists, but rather an initial lack of CDs in his personal collection. While over time this changed, a weekly gig helping out with the sound at 1C1 in North Melbourne attracted many talented musicians and created a steady stream of people keen to play live-to-air. As the show developed though it became more focussed on international artists and a love of Canadian music grew that still weaves a thread through the playlist.
The late nineties brought what was probably the first experiment on 3mdr at running a show completely from a laptop. While technically it all worked fine, Phil felt the required focus on the technology detracted from the spontaneity and so the laptop was retired. In fact 99% of music on the show is still played from physical CDs with booklet in hand for a wider view of the artist’s vision.
About 2009 Ron King was enticed into the fold and trained up to backup Phil on the show when needed; one more victim of the vortex. His mellifluous tones have added some semblance of respectability to the program in the form of ‘Ron’s Rant’. While it’s not a ‘rave on about anything and everything’ kind of rant it has more of a musical reference, with four tracks that he chooses and chats about when Phil gives him a chance to speak. No it’s not just about music, though that is the basic idea. The phrase ‘but I digress…’ is not uncommon and this leads the listener into many corners of thought, not necessarily relevant but rarely mundane.
‘Folk On he Fringe’ has outlasted many shows and joins a select list of fine programs on 3MDR with the staying power for a 20 year stint or more. If you’re interested in folk and acoustic music or any genre around the fringes, check it out on 97.1fm or on line, live or archived, at www.3mdr.com.
Dec 30th, from 7pm the 1000th show just might include a story or two that you haven’t heard, or maybe just more and better music. ‘Til then, as the weekly outro says,”Don’t do anything I wouldn’t, but if you do, take pictures”.
You can hear more of Ron on his show ‘An Acoustic Companion’ from 11am to 1pm on Saturdays. On 3MDR of course.