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Meet the comedy duo behind Radio Local – NNF’s new radio show

PUBLISHED: 15:19 07 May 2020 | UPDATED: 18:15 07 May 2020

Radio Local will go live on nnfestival.org.uk every day at 3pm from May 8-24. Picture: Christa Holka/NNF

Radio Local will go live on nnfestival.org.uk every day at 3pm from May 8-24. Picture: Christa Holka/NNF

Christa Holka, 2018

In lieu of this year’s Norfolk and Norwich Festival, comedy duo Hunt and Darton will take to the airwaves each day from May 8-24 for Radio Local.

Radio Local will go live on nnfestival.org.uk every day at 3pm from May 8-23. Picture: Christa Holka/NNFRadio Local will go live on nnfestival.org.uk every day at 3pm from May 8-23. Picture: Christa Holka/NNF

Sadly, due to Covid-19, there’s no Norfolk and Norwich Festival this year – but thanks to comedy duo Hunt and Darton, the show must, in some way, go on.

The pair were originally due to broadcast a live, 24-hour radio show from the city centre but will now host a daily 3pm show, on Norwich’s Future Radio and online, for the duration of the festival, which would have run from May 8-24. We caught up with them to find out more.

Tell us a bit about Hunt and Darton’s Radio Local digital show:

We have reimagined Radio Local as a digital project – of course we have, radio is a superpower right now!

From the charmingly mundane to the extraordinary and borderline ridiculous, Radio Local is a celebration of local radio and community. Broadcasting over regional and community radio we are building a show with local people over the phone, via Zoom workshops and through online local networks about the weird and wonderful places they live in and, more aptly now, how they are living.

Radio Local responds to people and place, witnessing this unprecedented time and celebrating people’s boredom. This is hyper-local broadcast to the world.

Artists behind The Clunker, pictured here in Norwich, will also be guests on the show. Picture: Norfolk and Norwich FestivalArtists behind The Clunker, pictured here in Norwich, will also be guests on the show. Picture: Norfolk and Norwich Festival

You originally toured Radio Local as a live show, what’s different about the new version?

Think banter about subjects such as survival tactics for isolation and boredom busters. The food review will be us sending key workers a take-away to critique and all our live reports will be from the over 70s – we can’t wait for audio tours of your homes.

As with the best regional and community radio, we remain local to the place we reside. We will be joined by local legends who will be sharing the tracks of their life, the dating show will consist of a series of virtual meetings between two strangers in the hope of finding love.

We will be setting intergenerational family challenges for our feature ‘you can choose your friends, not your family’ such as a DIY obstacle course, toilet paper stacking, or make a piece of ‘Conceptual Art’ collaboratively out of a toothpaste tube, and a Scavenger Hunt, plus competitions for all to join in with at home.

Jingle making will get more exciting as everyone is invited to make a jingle with anything around the house – voices, pans, kids’ instruments, packets of food, door slammin’ – all recorded on voice memos and uploaded to our Radio Local soundcloud.

We’ve already clapped together, exercised en masse, listened to the choirs and had disastrous family meets online – and we want more.

What drew you to local radio as a topic?

Oliver Pashley will be one of the guests on Radio Local. Picture: Raphael NealOliver Pashley will be one of the guests on Radio Local. Picture: Raphael Neal

We toured the UK with our pop-up cafe and interactive art installation, Hunt & Darton Cafe, for five years between 2014-2018. During this time we popped up on the high streets of many local UK towns, weaving ourselves into the fabric of the place, getting to know the locals, making new friends, taking on local politics and providing a space in which people meet and play.

It’s from this experience that we became interested in elevating and celebrating local voice.

We wanted to shine a spotlight on the untold, unseen, unheard as well as the mundane, domestic, local, eccentricities of human life. We wanted to celebrate community and the power of communities.

We love radio. There’s time and space here like no other medium. It has people at its heart and it elevates both the quiet and the bold. It takes you across a spectrum of emotion, jumping from hard stories to co-hosting antics or from humble gardening shows to war-torn countries, from opera to grime and sometimes even without changing the station.

It holds music up and shares it with the world on a scale and with a passion that is unbeatable. It breaks through our oversaturated lives offering a space of contemplation and rigour.

Last October, Ofcom, which is in charge of the UK’s radio (including the BBC), made a change to the rules that govern commercial local radio output. Previously, these so-called “localness guidelines” insisted that any commercial local radio station had to feature at least seven hours of locally-made output between 6am and 7pm, and this had to include the breakfast show.

After October, such a station only had to feature three hours of local output, and the breakfast show did not have to be included.

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Local radio is being centralised and local stories central to the lives of local people, but that do not matter to London or the world, are being cut. This leaves communities with another cultural and informational deficit.

Does local radio have a future?

We love local radio and think it needs saving and elevating. We hope Radio Local goes some way in filling the growing gap between local voice and global information. TV has not killed the radio star – it’s just its annoying, loud, older brother.

Can you tell us about some of the guest artists you’re collaborating with?

We commission other artists to make serialised content and join us as guests (remotely of course!).

We are looking forward to hearing programmes about the amateur stand-up comedy scene in Norfolk, the Organ Festival in Diss, audio postcards from Great Yarmouth, sounds from Golden Lane Estate in lockdown and poetry made from the children of King’s Lynn about their favourite hangouts.

Stopgag will be guests on Radio Local to talk about their new film, Artificial Things. Picture: Stopgap/Norfolk and Norwich FestivalStopgag will be guests on Radio Local to talk about their new film, Artificial Things. Picture: Stopgap/Norfolk and Norwich Festival

Artists include the Radio 4 regular Scottee, social broadcaster Lucia Scazzocchio, the award-winning cabaret duo Bourgeois and Maurice, anthropological theatre maker Vic Melody and surreal double act Odd Comic.

There is also a plethora of creative responses in this time of crisis and we want to signpost the great digital work from the festivals we were meant to be part of at the time they would have happened.

How will the artist commissions work and how have you chosen them?

We have invited peers and signposted artists experienced in making socially-engaged work and audio works to explore Great Yarmouth, Diss and King’s Lynn and create six five-minute programmes of pre-record about what they found out.

We have identified specific demographics we would like each commission to meet, including kids in King’s Lynn and the over 70s in Diss.

In Culture Mile we have commissioned Scottee to explore the Golden Lane Estate – he will be connecting with residents via Zoom and committing to daily ‘check-ins’ over the course of a week, discussing any changes to health and wellbeing in the current pandemic with the people he meets.

Victoria Melody will be celebrating the passions of everyday people in a show titled ‘The Enthusiasts’ asking people to talk for four minutes about an interest close to their hearts – be it pigeon fancying, moustaches, playing the guitar, model boat making or cooking artichokes.

Bourgeois and Maurice will take up the role of guest presenter where we highlight some of the best talent in the industry. They will be sharing songs from their back catalogue and bantering about the apocalyptic time we find ourselves in.

What’s been your experience of working with the people of Norfolk?

They’re friendly, cool, generous, open-minded and loyal – and big Norfolk and Norwich Festival fans, too!

Which artists from the original programme are you looking forward to speaking to?

Reuben Kaye, Frozen Light and Casus Circus.

Lots of the artists and acts from the original Norfolk and Norwich Festival line-up will be taking to the airwaves as part of Radio Local. Tune in at nnfestival.org.uk to hear from: Reuben Kaye, Grace Petrie, Britten Sinfonia, Oliver Pashley, Frozen Light,Gravity & Other Myths, Without Walls, Alex McAleer, Casus, Veronica Secule (BUGS), Tim Sandys, The Clunker and Stopgap, who will be talking about their film, Artificial Things.


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