In conversation with Ramona from WFM96

Is “radio” new to you because I don’t directly see that on the website

Making radio is completely new to me. Still, despite the fact that I have been active in the Zeeland media world for 25 years and nationally on Internet media. For years I have presented programs on regional TV stations, but with a business character or feel-good programs. Pre-recorded and live. But I’ve always had more with live. I think that’s brilliant: the palpable “pressure” that things must be going well, because it’s live. That gives a huge thrill. Even in my work as a presenter or day chairperson, that feeling in your performance on stage is HUGE for me. So when I was asked to make radio there was only 1 thing imaginable for me: I just want to make live radio!

How did you get so hooked on radio?

For my education – some 25 years ago now – I made the choice to do an internship at then City Radio Maximaal and Maximaal TV. That’s how I first entered the “radio world. Well getting in touch in that world… At most I was allowed to voice something because they were looking for a female voice. That kind of thing I was allowed to do for “the gentlemen radio deejays’. After all, I was an intern. When I was offered a job at the broadcasting company, I became involved in devising and executing TV programs for Maximal TV and automatically entered the world of video production. But what those deejays were all doing in those studios continued to intrigue and fascinate me.

Can you talk a little more about your career in radio?

In March 2020, the pandemic caused by the Corona virus broke out. All my bookings for 1.5 years were wiped from my calendar or put on-hold in 3 days. As a self employee, I depend on my work as a presenter, day chairperson and presentation coach and instantly make yourself enormously worried: my whole business was collapsing. After six months of moping around and recovering from the shock, I saw movement in the market and a need that I jumped on: audio production. The world shifted to communicating online. Creating e-learnings with experience. No reading boring instructional texts, but a “digital coach” who uses her voice or through a video to help you get started in the e-learning. Then I started investing in equipment as well as knowledge. In my house, I built a studio in the attic. A space where I can record talking head video productions as well as voiceovers and podcasts with professional audio equipment. I liked that voicing and “playing” with my voice and audio right away and triggered me in my creativity. WFM96 radio deejay Patrick Gabriëlse, who has been making radio on and for Walcheren for at least 25 years, had been asking me for several years, “Do you feel like making radio sometime? I think you could do that very well.” But always I answered no time after time, I was too busy with my business. Six months ago, I said “yes. The studio with all that audio equipment beckoned to me: we could do so much more together. I needed guidance, a radio stage: a playground where I could try out ideas. But can also flat out “go on my mouth,” learn from that, fine tune and try again. Learning, big time learning everything. From scatch. Patrick Gabriëlse became my first coach. He took me into the WFM studio in Vlissingen and showed me in a nutshell what some of the knobs and faders are for and go! The first time, I spent 2 hours just cranking through records and jingles. Not a word said in the ether. I had to get a feel for it; after all, I had 0 experience with radio technology. “For next time, prepare 3 pieces of announcements for a record”; so coach Patrick instructed. I of course performed that neatly as befits a good radio apprentice. The following week, the slide of the microphone opened right after the hour opener and Patrick said, “Go ahead, say hello to the listeners and tell something funny. You’re just going to talk for 2 hours every now and then.” That this was not the deal didn’t matter much to him; Patrick took me out of my comfort zone and knew I could handle it. Stiff with excitement, I stood there in front of the microphone. The next day I had muscle pain in places in my body that I didn’t even know I had muscles there.

How do you like being a woman in a (yet mostly) male world?

Making radio in a mostly male-dominated world is something I do well. Always, by nature I often choose the industries where men are mostly in the lead: star chefs, defense, infrastructure or administrative level. I find that I command respect from my radio colleagues that in immersing myself in the technology, their style of presentation, but definitely steer my own course. I put a lot of time and energy into learning how to make radio. This can only be done by keeping an open mind and not pretending that I already know everything. That’s not going to work. I simply need their help. So investing your own time and your own resources. But also staying yourself and sometimes making fun of that man’s world is typically an action for a woman: “sprucing up” the studio with handy knick-knacks for the sleek studio furnishings. Every week I christen myself for a radio item as the Studio Stylist. From beer cap shooter, singing catus to a self-stirring mug; I try everything live. Anything to make my colleagues’ lives a lot easier AND the studio more fun. This produces hilarious scenes on the radio, especially the spin-off is genius. That same week, the live deejays look for the item of the week in their program and then mostly crack it down hard. That chemistry back and forth is the fun of radioing separately with each other. It creates a bond with each other, and for the listener, that chemistry is palpable. You notice then it is 1 WFM club there, they are having a good time together.

What tip do you have for women who find the radio industry interesting and want to get started?

My tip for women who want to make radio and also take a serious step in it would be the same to men. See for yourself in terms of style and music format which radio station you are most attracted to. Make the bold move and take a walk with that station. There is so much you could do: technician, live radio deejay, audio designer, voice track deejay. Choose what you like best, what you can put yourself into. Is that radio deejay, find an audio designer who understands the sound, style and feel you want to bring to the listener with your items, jingles and power intros. Working with an audio designer is essential if you want to move quickly toward a professional-sounding radio program. Especially if you don’t have the know-how in making remixes. When the professional design is there it “forces” you as a starting radio deejay to level up to that level. A second tip is precisely to subtly deploy that you are a woman, if, by the way, that fits who you are. By that I don’t mean to say that you should only play women’s music. But approaching topics from a female perspective, giving a boost to women empowerment for once, or recounting the daily struggles with your adolescent child can be so relatable to a listener. This gives them a connection with you.

What target audience does WFM serve?

WFM96 focuses on Walcheren on the target group of 30 to 60 years of age. But we have already noticed, that because of our varied music mix, the music is also appreciated outside this target group.

How do you like being a radio woman at WFM, for example, can you count on a lot of support from your colleagues?

Creating program on your own is a special thing. In the ether, you end up doing it alone. By myself the preparation, by myself the technique, by myself presenting on air and in doing so I am really alone in the studio. But around me there is support and I feel and notice this too. First of all, there was immediate confidence from the station manager and the board in me as a media professional, even though I had not yet touched a radio button. Then you get the “latitude” in 2 live hours that I was allowed to creatively fill in myself with the preconditions taking into account the chosen music format and the rules of conduct in the airwaves. But that freedom allowed me to make magic on the radio, creatively get everything out of it. In that creativity is collaborated. Sparring out loud with Patrick (my 1st coach), but also with the station manager. In addition, the colleagues who show interest, really like it that you’re joining and also make it known that they think it’s cool that you’re a woman. This really makes you think: at least our station has a female deejay and one who does all the technical stuff herself. Apart from that support by colleagues, I am empowered by the support and coaching of my audio designer Lex “The Dutch Guy. As an experienced radio deejay, I absorb all his knowledge and tips and immediately apply them to the broadcast the following week. Having someone like that in the background strengthens me tremendously in my role as a deejay and the chosen program format.

What are your personal goals as a radio woman for the future?

No idea, because always when I reach a goal I push it again. Thus, I always remain hungry for even more to do and know. I want to get stronger at producing my own audio design. Finding interaction with the listener even more, using my experience and qualities as a TV presenter. By that I mean live radio with camera as in a live stream. Radio deejays make radio and as a viewer you watch along. I am not afraid of the camera and actually look at the viewer every now and then during my narration. This is not done by radio deejays very much, if at all. You can also really show and demonstrate objects, while stimulating the listener who is just listening at the time to stimulate his/her/their imagination to visualize what is happening. I want to be innovative in a different way of making radio, be even more on that visual experience through the use of livestreams and stimulate my creativity, bringing entertainment to both the listener and the viewer. In addition, I want to master technique much better. So that I become as good as my male colleagues 😉
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