Jamaias DaCosta aka “Jams” is a musical artist, writer and activist journalist, and is mixed identified of Jamaican (Colombian, African, South Asian, Portuguese and Jewish), Kanienkehaka (Mohawk), Irish and Cree background.
Jamaias is Host and Producer of The Vibe Collective and Executive Producer of Indigenous Waves Radio, both on CIUT 89.5FM.
BCP: Why radio?
JD: Radio, in particular community radio, has an incredible history, and has often played a vital role as the voice of the people. It is an amazingly accessible medium, and many important sub cultures and movements have emerged from radio.
BCP: You are the behind the scenes person. What do you do that listeners don’t see and hear?
JD: Network, research – lots of research, plan shows, book and coordinate guests, edit interviews, direct interviews, mentor hosts and contributing producers, promote through various social media networks, other various administration.
BCP: You’ve worked at FLOW, and have your own radio show The Vibe Collective. How different is Indigenous Waves? What have you brought from your previous experience to Indigenous Waves?
JD: Flow is commercial radio, which is a completely different medium than community radio. Commercial radio is dictated and directed solely by ratings and sales, which leaves little room for creativity, and can affect the kind of stories that can be told. With community radio, rather than being accountable to clients, you are accountable to the community. You can tell important stories that don’t get told in the mainstream.
The Vibe Collective is a conversation meant to engage listeners, particularly youth and young adults from the Toronto community with issues of decolonization, cultural revitalization, social, education and environmental justice. Indigenous Waves does the same thing however our audience extends both beyond Toronto and youth and young adults because we are one of a few different media outlets specifically representing Indigenous voices from Turtle Island.
What I have learned is that, despite the naysayers of radio who call it a dying medium, listeners appreciate and support this type of dialogue. There are not nearly as many options for finding these types of stories and conversations within the mainstream, so we also have a responsibility to the community to deliver what they can’t get unless they go searching on the internet for great blogs like yours or some of the other daily news websites like Indian Country Today, Democracy Now and Rabble, that are doing good work. We fill a void in the airwaves.
BCP: What are you goals for Indigenous Waves in 2012?
JD: To continue to develop and expand the programming to include as many voices and stories that represent the hundreds of diverse Indigenous communities from Turtle Island. We want to include some more language content and we are looking for segment contributors as well.
BCP: Can you provide a recommended radio show listening list?
JD: CIUT has some great programs, like Democracy Now which airs out of Pacifica Radio in the states, Alternative Radio, also out of the states, but then locally there’s The More The Merrier, Higher Ground, Dos Mundos, Morning Ride, Reggae Riddims, Stylistik, Stolen Moments, Masterplan, Clave, Resistance on the Sound Dial. CKLN used to have some amazing programs, some are still going out of Regent like Saturday Morning Live, and then I listen to a lot of podcasts like Solid State Deluxe which is from a community station in Honolulu and Mumia Abu Jamal’s podcast series.
BCP: Is your writing of spoken word helpful to you in radio?
JD: I suppose you could say the fact that I am comfortable in front of a microphone comes from being a performer by nature, which my family will tell you I am. I like to work in many mediums, maybe it has to do with being mixed, it’s a theme in my life to mix things up. Radio, spoken word, singing, rapping, writing are all mediums I am interested in and work with to tell stories.
BCP: What advice do you have for other people wanting to get into radio?
JD: As cliché as this sounds, whatever you do in life, it should be something you love. So that when you put extra into it you don’t resent the work. Radio has funny hours, and because it’s 24 hours, 7 days a week it doesn’t stop for holidays or guests who don’t show up, so it takes a certain kind of adaptability. Radio people are some of the most eccentric people you can meet, so you also have to be open to other people’s eccentricities. The best door into radio is community radio, it’s accessible, there are always opportunities for volunteers and it’s a hands on, real world experience.
Lindy Kinoshameg is an Ojibway from the Wikwemikong First Nation, currently in his 3rd year of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto. He is also a self taught artist, specializing in portrait sketches in pencil and arcylic paint, his work is heavily rooted in his culture and has been showcased several times. Lindy loves being involved with the Toronto Aboriginal community through volunteering with the Association for Native Development in the Performing and Visual Arts, mentoring aboriginal and non-aboriginal youth in the city, and co-hosting Indigenous Waves Radio.
BCP: How did you get into radio?
LK: I was apart of a small group from the First Nations House at the University of Toronto who were asked to take part in a meeting with the Station Manager at CIUT to find out the level of interest in starting a aboriginal radio program. This was an amazing opportunity, I am up for trying new things and helping out on a radio program was a very interesting idea. I have been listening to radio for most of my life, enjoying various programming and the thrill of being a radio personality, preparing music, information, and just having fun with guests.
BCP: What do you like about radio?
LK: I love listening to radio, good radio that is! My favorite radio programs have a host that can keep the listeners attention, provides relevant information on topics being discussed, objective, and just entertaining. I like knowing people I know are listening, both from Toronto and from as far as back home. Maybe most of all I like hearing from any of our listeners that they enjoyed the show, the music, and the content. A big part of radio is having relevant guests that people want to hear about, so far I’ve gotten to chat with Keith Secola, Ted Nolan, Ryan McMahon, a number of award winning artists, and local people that I’ve had fun interviewing.
BCP: Do you have any plans for Indigenous Waves Radio 2012?
LK: I love reaching out to fans and providing more areas for dialogue, in my last few shows I had provided a Ustream into the studio during the show, I’m on facebook to chat with any fans online, I provide info on upcoming shows, and anytime I’m at a local event in Toronto I’m always promoting the show, looking for guests, new ideas, and music. What I’d like to see Indigenous Waves start is finding prizes for listeners to call in, getting listeners to call in with questions or comments on guests, and even having listeners watch the show from outside the studio!
BCP: What has been your most fun interview? What has been your worst interview?
LK: I’ve had a couple really good interviews! And I have to give huge credit to my girlfriend Leslie McCue, the Partnership Facilitator at ANDPVA. She has helped me come in contact with a lot of really cool artists. One that stands out for myself is a prerecorded interview I had done with Stevie Salas, doing all the editing myself and just chatting and joking around with Stevie; this man is a total rock star. He plays stadium shows, has rock stars like Mick Jagger and T.I. on his speed dial! Most people have no idea who he is, but he is amazing and I’ve enjoyed playing his music on many of my shows.
I havn’t really had a ‘worst’ interview, they’ve all been pretty sweet. But if I had to choose, there was a point when I was feeling a little under the weather, wasn’t myself, and just felt like I did not give 100% of myself to the show. That was not a good feeling, and if I can’t do that, then I don’t want to let down anyone listening to the show because I believe Indigenous Waves could be a great show.
BCP: Your Producer, Jamais DaCosta, says you are a natural and wishes you’d study journalism. Would you consider doing radio professionally?
LK: I love doing radio, I would continue to do it on a volunteer basis. However, I have put a lot of time and energy into my current program and goals, I do have a lot of people who believe in me, and don’t want to let anyone down. I would love to continue being in radio beyond my time at the University of Toronto if I could, perhaps down the road I can pursuit radio after I begin my other career. With that said, I wouldn’t mind if Jamais wanted to pay me for doing the show! I am a student after all.
BCP: You are a visual artist. Has you being an artists helped you with radio?
LK: Indirectly, I think yes. I’ve had interviews with other visual artists, even musical artists I understand there is a process and craftsmanship to putting a product out there that has your heart and soul on it. I suppose we do it on Indigenous Waves every week, put all our efforts into putting a great show together for the world to listen to. As an artist, I believe I am trying to tell a story with my pencil or brush on a canvas, and as a radio show host we can be seen as storytellers through the airwaves.
BCP: What advice do you have for other people out there interested in getting into radio?
LK: I think the biggest thing is to just do it, volunteer on a show if you can, learn more about roles you can be involved in. There is a lot more spots for people to help out on a radio show than most people think, researchers, chase producers, technicians, social media promoters, producers, co-hosts, but you can’t have my job! You may be nervous at first but it passes, you may hate hearing your own voice (I did), but you get over it, or you may just be a natural at it.
She received an M.F.A. from the University of Windsor (2007) in Integrated Media, a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography (2004) and a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies (1999) from the University of Manitoba.
Susan is the co-host of Indigenous Waves Radio.
BCP: Why radio?
SB: Radio is one of the most democratic mediums in terms of its availability to the people. It has proven itself to be a very durable medium and with the onset of digital media has become only more available to the public. I like that people can listen to radio in their car, at home, at work. It is also relatively cheap to produce and to participate in.
I think when you use radio as a medium, you have to be directly accountable for your words; it doesn’t have the anonymity of the internet which, at times, seems to encourage the most aggressive and malicious speech. The immediacy of live radio means you have to very conscious of what you put out there.
BCP: You are the co-host for Indigenous Waves Radio. What do you do that listeners don’t see and hear?
SB: There is a lot of preparation beforehand in terms of research and being engaged with the interview subject. We spend a good amount of time researching our guests, current issues, historical contexts, and many other things in order to give our listeners a dynamic story. Thankfully, as a team we are all pretty engaged culturally and intellectually with Indigenous perspectives and are passionate about disseminating that information.
BCP: What makes a good interview? How do you handle difficult guests, if you have had any?
SB: I think a good interview is one where you can connect with your guest either intellectually or spiritually; the connection is paramount because without that the interview will be too formal and you may not be able to tell a good story. A good interview will have a conversational flow where the guest feels comfortable and engaged by your questions.
Thankfully, we haven’t really had any difficult guests. We have covered subjects that are seen as controversial and in those instances, guests can be very reserved. All you can do as a host is to remember the importance of being perceptive and empathic anytime you’re doing an interview.
BCP: What have you brought from your previous experiences as an artist, and teacher, to Indigenous Waves?
SB: I think one becomes an artist because you have an innate curiosity about the world around you and a desire to communicate your ideas to others. Artists are very connected to the ‘how?’ and ‘why?’ of life and I think I apply those things to the radio show.
As someone who taught visual art at the post-secondary level for three years, I think I am very comfortable in communicating with people, in critical thinking, and in being immersed in research.
BCP: What are you goals for Indigenous Waves Radio in 2012?
SB: To continue to bring stories to our listeners that educate, decolonize, and portray the diversity of the original peoples of this land now called North America. Our goal is to tell stories from an Indigenous perspective and to tell the full range of those stories from the most positive successes to the most unjust. That, unfortunately, is our reality as Indigenous people living under a colonial system.
In more practical terms, I would like more listeners in 2012 and to continue to grow, connect, and network with our listeners. Community radio is a bit of an uphill battle but we appreciate everyone who listens and offers their feedback!
BCP: You are an artist. Has your art been helpful to you in radio?
SB: I think so. I also believe that many, perhaps the majority, of Indigenous artists work in an interdisciplinary way, moving easily between visual art, film, writing, music, etc. It’s difficult for me to demarcate between radio and art other than in practical terms because both come from a desire to communicate stories.
BCP: What advice do you have for people interested in hosting a radio show?
SB: Just do it! Radio is a unique medium, rich with potential in terms of its ability to reach people. Connect with people at your campus or community radio station. If you have a voice, use it.
Tune into Black Coffee Poet on Friday March 2, 2012 for a video of BCP on Indigenous Waves talking about the 800+ Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada.