Monday, 13 January 2014

First Spark Radio Festival 2014
Various venues in South Devon UK
On Soundart Radio 102.5fm or at

We made it through Christmas and New Year's Eve and we can't wait for Spring now. We want to get outside - not too much though - stretch our legs and try something new.
Welcome to Soundart Radio's First Spark Festival 2014... every year we do a bunch of different things, to celebrate this awkward, in-betweeny time of year, the forgotten fesival of Imbolc that marks the midway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.
It is our firmly held belief that such an obscure and difficult festival should be heralded with difficult and obscure music, art and radio works...

This year the focus is on live events - come along, listen, watch and take part. We have excelled ourselves and overcome our natural desire to curl up indoors, by planning three very different live events. Come along to a bit of one, to all of one, to all three for an ear-changing weekend of music, noise and experimental radio... both silly and serious at once.

Friday 31st January 
Totnes Nonclassical at the Barrel House

Together with our friends at Totnes Music Now, we bring the well-loved, London orignated Nonclassical night to the Barrel House, Totnes. This is the first of many -- or at least four a year.
New music live, electroacoustic works and DJ sets.
This will be recorded for broadcast on Sunday evening

Saturday 1st February 
Creative radio day, for people over 50

A day of trying out new skills, having fun, being creative and making some work for broadcast. 
Free workshops all day from poet Lucy Lepchani and sound recordist Tony Whitehead. Supported by Artswave Devon pop-up events.
Dartington, Studio 4 (find us in 'Space' on the lower drive)
Pop in for a session or two or stay all day. 
The workshops:

Sound Recording, with Tony Whitehead
Tony Whitehead is a sound recordist and owner of Very Quiet Records. 
He will be bringing a variety of specialist sound equipment for capturing sounds of birds, water and more, and will lead walks around the gardens. A chance to try out some interesting equipment and make recordings for broadcast.
Sessions at 10 am, midday and 2pm

Poetry with Lucy Lepchani
Lucy writes for performance, publication and short fiction. She will support participants to create new individual and group poems around the 'First Spark' festival themes. At the end of each session we will record the poems to create a new radio programme, where listeners will hear them woven through with the sounds from the recording workshops.
Sessions at 11am, 1pm, 3pm.

All sessions are free of charge and take place at Studio 4, Dartington Space.

Sunday 2nd February
Marbling - live stream from the House of Marbles, Bovey Tracey

We were intrigued by the sounds of Snookie the huge and beautiful marble run created by Alex Schmidt at the House of Marbles, and felt that it deserved it's own radio show.  We will be streaming live from around 10am, then in the afternoon an ensemble of string and recorder players will join the voice of the marble run in a new composition by Sam Richards. Come along to the House of Marbles to witness the performance live, or tune in throughout the day... rattle, rattle, ding, whoosh, clonk.

Sunday evening - tune in to hear highlights of the weekend, including Friday night's performances and work produced during Saturday's workshops.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Winners Announced

So, the winning documentary in the under 18s category is...
The World of Internet Radio, by Emma Norman

Here's what the judges had to say about her piece:

Brilliant piece well researched, clear engaging beautiful use of other audio/radio. Winner for me!
A lovely, warm, professional 'World Service' tone, clever use of audio captured online to give it pace and real, campaigning subject matter. You could play this one out practically anywhere right now. Loved it.
An interesting production brought to life by the incorporation of the snippets of radio from around the world. A well planned, well thought out and concise script with an upbeat and enthusiastic delivery that holds the listener's interest.

Emma produces a fortnightly show at Soundart Radio on Saturday mornings. She has also been involved with her school radio station, at Coombeshead College, Newton Abbot for several years.

And in the over 18s... we have a tie.
The World's Longest Score - Juan Villalba
The judges said:
Dreamy. Left me wanting to know more. Sound design is really lovely - different tones/qualities/levels separates sources nicely. Excellent production - dynamic, thought provoking, fantastic use of music and effects. I liked the background voices in foreign languages, it builds really nicely to the break in the middle. I really enjoyed this -simple idea but you really used the sounds and music to tell the story.

Juan Villalba is a journalist from Mendoza, Argentina.  He says:
Three years ago, the world knew the √Āngeles Duran story. A Spanish woman said she was the owner of the Sun.
I talked to her in a radio program. She told me she had another idea: a musical score with phone sounds. Actually, she never did. I talked to her again and she explained her idea.  She is the female voice in Spanish in the piece, recorded on the phone in my home studio. The female voice in French is a friend of mine, a French teacher, Lola. And the male voice is mine.
Starting from this idea, I thought of combining the sounds of cell phones with conventional instruments, as the piano or violin. I am fascinated by the sounds of new technologies.

Would we Survive? - Helmi Wolff

The judges said:

Ooh. Tantalising. Packs a lot in to 60". Gorgeous voice tells half the story on its own, before you even get to the events. Additional sounds just right - could easily have been overdone. Very emotional stuff.
It is great as piece of oral history and it is given atmosphere and brought to life through the understated use of sound effects.
Fantastic historical record. Very active piece
I was with her in the bunker-a script packed with detail, emotion and memory
Helmi Wolff is a Somerset based artist, who is part of the Ignite Somerset project at The Engine Room, Bridgwater.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

We're announcing the winners this evening... here are the top 5. First the Under 18s category:

Rocking Robins - Bidwell Brook School, Dartington
Childhood Obesity; It's a Pet's Life; Life of a Snail - all by the Grove School, Totnes
The World of Internet Radio - Emma Norman

and the over 18s:

World's longest musical score - Juan Villalba
Would we survive - Helmi Wolff
1 to the power 21 - Di Cunningham
Fishing the seas dry -  We don't know who you are! Please get in touch!
Time Lapse Peepers - Rob Rosenthal

Ther were 68 entries overall, and lots of stunning, surprising and moving audio amongst them. Others we specially noted were:

A moth by any other name - Helen Swan
No Chinese Opera Today - Monica Ruud
Less a bolt of lightning than the lightning of Bolt - Paul Stones
Marcus and the Christmas snake - Janine Klara
Standing on a Moving Train - Kim Fox
Kosma Tales - Kosma Tales
Picachito- Bontxar

All pieces broadcast tomorrow, Sunday 3rd, from 4pm

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

How to enter

Those rules and guidelines in full:
  • The deadline is 5pm on Friday, 18th January
  • 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 (let's say between 55 and 65 seconds)
  • Give it a great title as no other information (eg pictures, explanatory text) will be taken into account by the judges.
  • It must be entirely your own work, though could be an edit of something you have made before. Don't use music unless it was composed for the piece and credited properly.
  • You can enter as a team or as an individual.
  • You can enter as many times as you like, but don't try to tell a story in a series of episodes! Each minute should stand alone.
  • Submit your work at
  •  Just tell us the title, an email address and if you are over or under 18.  
    Poems, songs, field recordings and surprises all welcome, so long as they convey a true story.
    Happy recording!

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.