Bahia Watson (The Handmaid’s Tale, Star Trek) is launching a radio station. Watson designed programmesound.fm as a democratic space for diverse storytellers to have creative freedom to share what they want, unedited. For listeners, it’s about finding connection.
Watson’s love for the medium runs deep, but this project was a response to pandemic life. “Tune into a constellation of stories that beam through the void to let us know we are not alone,” says the actor. Sounds comforting … an antidote to the frenetic energy and noise of social media.
Developed in collaboration with Outside The March Theatre, Watson has already pulled together a stellar roster of storytellers including Kai Potts, Lili Robinson, Carmen Braden, Jonathan Shaboo, Napatsi Folger, Liza Paul, and Colin Doyle. The internet radio station asks listeners “to trust us, to tune in and take the ride of discovery with us, wherever the wavelength takes you.” We’re excited to dial into this new frequency.
In advance of the big debut (July 25), we reached out to Watson to find out a little more about her bold new project.
What inspired you to launch an online radio station?
I’ve always had a dreamy thing for radio, that kind of ‘in the background intimacy’ was interesting to me. I grew up in Treaty 1 Territory with CBC radio constantly on in my house; our clocks were always off and they always announced the hour on-air, which my mom relied on. As for this particular dream of a radio station dedicated to storytelling, it was inspired by the way the pandemic has affected the theatre community. I wanted to create something that could expand and diversify that community and also challenge the industry.
With the uprisings last summer, and often short-lived conversations that followed, I was interested in a digital space to share information on a national level, and how that might encourage our evolution as storytellers and people.
What’s the vision of programsound.fm?
I’m not exactly sure. There are many shapes it can take as far as how the platform engages with communities and presents to the world as it grows. For now, I’d like to maintain some flexibility. It could host a run of a show, a small audio festival, a conference, or secret late-night cabarets. I want programsound.fm to be a bit of a playground for a while, where storytellers can experiment, express themselves, and be heard.
Why did you choose radio as a medium?
I’m a theatre girl, and I started to think of radio as a cousin to theatre. It has intimate, local and live elements that align with the spirit of theatre. The way it requires the audience’s imagination to complete the story, that participatory element … it’s accessible and affordable, and a great break from looking at screens; an opportunity to practice listening. Opposed to podcasts – you don’t have to choose! There’s no decision making, you just tune it.
Anything else you want to share with us right now about this project…maybe how people can get involved?
This Sunday, starting 12pm eastern time, we will be streaming 12 hours full of stories, sounds and storytellers – and I’ll be there as your guide. What better way to spend a Sunday! Check out programsound.fm to see our team and our lineup of storytellers; and follow us on twitter (@programsoundFM) and instagram (@programsound.fm) — we’ll be doing some giveaways and all that fun stuff so please — tune in!