Coming out of the closet and into the pink

Ricardo Dunn

Every Thursday from 8:30 to 9:30pm, the airwaves of Western Cape’s Bush radio 89.5 fm are tickled pink with an hour of gay programming.

Africa’s only “queer” radio programme is a serious exercise in “camp” dialogue and commitment to positive images of gay people.

In the Pink, a programme produced by and for gay people, was first aired in August last year. Although the eight pioneers who started the project have little or no experience in radio, they have successfully kept the initiative running for six months.

After realising that it would be difficult to attract funding for the idea, In the Pink decided to pull on its own resources.

“We basically use whatever resources we can lay our hands on,” said co-producer, Patrick Solomon.

To save money on production and running costs, the team uses technical equipment at Bush radio — a community radio station.

Another cost-saver is its music, a combination of African rhythms, retro and hip hop, taken from a range of in-house CDs collected by the programme’s team.

“We also chip in to buy cassettes to record the weekly programme,” Solomon said.

“Bush radio didn’t have any hang-ups about us coming on board. The station is committed to giving a voice to those who previously didn’t have a voice.” he added.

Listening to In the Pink, the programme schedule is an ambitious lucky dip of international and local news, interviews with gay activists and local celebrities, book and film reviews, readings from the latest gay and lesbian fiction, poetry, discussions on gay and lesbian health issues and the odd clip of hot gossip.

Although the hour-long programme runs without any adverts or catchy jingles, the witty banter between presenters more than makes up for the lack of resources.

Even with little resources, the In the Pink team have already begun training young people interested in radio.

“The programme is not just about talking shop (gay politics) but also about helping those who are just coming out of the closet” said Solomon.

Although, the programme has not done a formal survey to gauge its listenership, phone-in segments have been very popular. “We even managed to combat the fundamentalists by having a group of “gay” christians on air,” said Solomon.

The strength of this under-resourced venture is the practicality of the people behind-the scene, who do not take themselves too seriously.

Right now there aren’t any plans to launch a 24-hour gay and lesbian radio station but programme producer Anne Sullivan, at the time of going to press, was abroad speaking to producers of gay and radio programmes in London and New York, hoping to bring back ideas for the show.

In the Pink is also planning to approach gay clubs and organisations to donate money so that it will be able to tighten and polish up the programme line-up.

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