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On the right wavelength with Adelaide’s under 40s

Award-winning news and current affairs show Wavelength returns for its 10th season on Fresh 92.7, ‘sparking the convos about Adelaide you should be having’.

Feb 22, 2024, updated Feb 22, 2024
Photo: Matisse Chambers/InDaily

Photo: Matisse Chambers/InDaily

The media consumption habits of today’s under 40s make it harder for mainstream media – particularly broadcast television and newspapers – to connect young adults to their news and current events offerings.

However, local community radio station Fresh 92.7 is doing just that. Its fortnightly Wavelength is now heading into its 10th season.

In terms of format, the hour-long show will unleash a dynamic mix of feature stories, vox pops, TikToks, Instagram polls, on-air callers and more – adhering to communication theorist Marshall McLuhan’s belief that ‘the medium is the message’.

Wavelength co-executive producer and co-host Grace Smith said the program explores issues that resonate with and are likely to have a greater impact on young adults.

“Ones capturing youth topics, like Indigenous rights, sexual health, climate change and the arts in South Australia,” said Smith, who is passionate about tackling environmental issues on the show and on the ground.

At 25 and 23-years-old respectively, Smith and Cassandra Johns have been working together for two years.

Political journalist Johns got her start at Fresh 92.7 as an intern, while Smith trained for on-air work with the Australian Radio School.

She said their differing skills made for a better product.

“We fill in the gaps to do the executive producer role quite perfectly together.”

Wavelength’s Grace Smith. Photo: Matisse Chambers/InDaily

They head up a team of eight volunteers who are also juggling work or university and bring a diversity in ethnicity, sexuality, background and perspectives.

The team meets fortnightly to pitch story ideas, taking their cues from the news of the day, the zeitgeist, a need for more information about less understood topics, and things that catch their attention.

“You know – if I find this interesting, surely other people around me do too?” Smith said.

“When it comes to politics, we find what’s relevant in the media, the current trending topics, and interview – not necessarily opposing views – but individuals who have expertise in that area.

“We let them speak for themselves instead of us projecting any [political] bias or standards.”

Fresh 92.7 has a drive-time audience of 127,000 making the station and Wavelength an essential conduit to people under 40.

Smith said they had been approached by politicians to appear on the show.

Premier Peter Malinauskas joined Johns on-air early in his premiership to discuss the changes he wanted to achieve for the state, including the issue of ramping.

Last year, Wavelength won for Excellence in News & Current Affairs Programming at the CBBA Community Radio Awards for its story ‘Data Breaches, Voice of Parliament & the Lord Mayor’.

For Smith, another highlight was her interview with science communicator Dr Karl (Kruszelnicki).

“He’s such a notable figure, especially in climate change and at the time we were speaking about going into a state of climate emergency and what that means and if the term is relevant,” she said.

The youthfulness of Smith, Johns and team possibly works in their favour, encouraging guests to let down their media guard to deliver more than a superficial sound bite.

“There have been a few times where I definitely had not expected a particular answer,” she said, adding her interview with Greens MLC Tammy Franks about sex workers was “really surprising”.

Other notable interviews have included Poh Ling Yeow and Sarah Hanson-Young.

Wavelength’s Cassandra Johns. Photo: Matisse Chambers/InDaily

For Johns – whose outside interests include Pilates, wine nights with friends and gigs at the Cranker – there is a satisfaction that comes with producing the show.

Wavelength is aimed at the youth of South Australia and every story is created with that in mind,” she said.

“We interview the most incredible and interesting people who have educated me and motivated me to bring the highest quality to this show.

“From the beginning of my time at Wavelength, I have always known there was something special here, the team brings so much energy and passion to everything – it’s inspiring.”

Outside of the show, Smith is a keen music festival and gig goer, and random hobbyist (currently dance classes), but hates watching movies.

“Unless I’m with someone who’s forcing me to sit down and put one on. I tend to revisit the Jackass movies, so my taste is not to be trusted.”

Wavelength’s reputation and hard work over the 10 years, she said, had allowed the team to interview “some really incredible people” and deliver a news and current affairs alternative that resonated with Adelaide’s young people.

“The promotional line for Wavelength is ‘sparking the convos about Adelaide you should be having’,” she said.

“I think that captures our work really nicely.”

Listen to Wavelength, Mondays (fortnightly) 6–7pm on Fresh 92.7, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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