On Monday 23 October, the longest running uninterrupted interview program in the history of community radio, Listen to Older Voices, will go to air with its 1,000th episode. For 19 years, the program, which is part of Uniting Wesley’s Melba Club, has provided a public platform for the stories, views and opinions of older citizens across Melbourne.
This incredible milestone for Listen to Older Voices represents a significant achievement in Australian community radio, as well as for the thousands of listeners and interviewees who have supported the program over the years. Listen to Older Voices first went to air in 1988 as part of the Melba Community Support Program, which later became a program of Uniting Wesley.
The Melba Club is one of the many social support programs run by Uniting Wesley, all of which support independence and help to reduce isolation among older people in our community, through social connections and group activities.
The show’s long-time presenter and producer, Rob Greaves, says that he is incredibly proud of all that Listen to Older Voices has been able to achieve over its history.
“This country is where it is today because of what everyday older Australians have done in their lives, and Listen to Older Voices provides a channel through which those stories can be told. It is a powerful tool for promoting positive ageing,” said Rob.
With a focus on interviewing people over 65, the program has enjoyed incredible success over the years, and was awarded runner-up in the National Radio news, interviews and public affairs media award, presented annually by Older People Speak Out. Rob holds many special memories from his time at the program, but said that Jack Charles stands out as one of the most fascinating and important people he has interviewed.
“Everybody has a story and everybody’s story needs to be told. But Jack’s was particularly important because it was a story of someone who overcame significant challenges, and used that experience to tackle a range of issues affecting his fellow indigenous people. His story resonated with a lot of listeners from culturally diverse backgrounds,” he said.
While the Melba Club provides social opportunities for older people living in the Yarra Valley area, the Listen to Older Voices program travels much further. Armed with his portable recording equipment, Rob roams across Melbourne to seek out the amazing stories that exist among the wise generation.
“I’ve battled multiple cuckoo clocks over the years, the chime of which can reap havoc during a live recording,” he recalls.
“During a particularly memorable interview, I was talking to an elderly gentleman when his voice cut out in my headphones. I stopped the interview, but couldn’t work out what had gone wrong with my equipment. We soon realised his dog had chewed through my headphone cable!”
The 1,000th episode is set to be a blast, with celebrations kicking off with an interview with one of Australia’s most legendary entertainers, Normie Rowe AM.
To tune in to the special anniversary episode, turn your radio dial to the Yarra Valley community radio station, YV FM 99.1 or via the podcast on the Toorak Times website.